Increasingly frequent breakthroughs into the overseas market have been rewarded with Ecco Finishing Supplies winning a prestigious export award just two years after last winning it.
Exports now account for almost 50% of sales at the Middlesbrough company, a five-fold increase in just four years.
The overseas success has been driven by the development of Ecco’s ES430 PFP machine, market-leading passive fire protection equipment that now represents 20% of the firm’s total £5m turnover.
All but one of the 22 hi-tech PFP machines sold by Ecco over the past 12 months have gone overseas, with Russia, the Phillipines, Abu Dhabi, Qatar and Canada among the far-flung destinations.
Winners of Team of the Year in the North-East Export Awards – an award the company also won in 2013 – Ecco is also celebrating a new customer in Kazakhstan, with orders for PFP machines, fire-proofing, blasting and painting equipment set to top £500,000 before the end of the year.
Keith Miller, who plans to make managerial changes to Ecco after giving daughter Lucy a key role on exports, said: “It’s so important to get recognition like this for the whole Ecco Finishing team.
“People keep saying to me ‘You’re doing really well, Keith’. But it’s not just about me. It’s a team game.
“From getting the order, the paperwork, the packaging and packing and all the financials, it takes so many people to make an export happen.
“So to be in the running to winning a prestigious award like this for the second time in three years is recognition for all the staff.
“I’m the captain and I might be sailing the boat, but none of us can do it without the support of the team around us.”
Closer to home, Ecco’s Teesside customers include Wilton Group, Tees Valley Coatings, Hertel, Cape and the Wood Group.
All of this comes at a time when Miller has also set up a Dubai-based joint venture company, Ecco SPT Equipment, with the aim of supplying a range of products throughout the Middle East including Kuwait, Iran and Iraq.
After investing $150,000 is stock, Miller and business partner Sandeep K Lohia have taken on two staff with two more to follow in the near future.