Increasing interest from China in a pioneering fire protection machine could help family-run Middlesbrough firm ESCS achieve a 50% boost to its current £500,000 turnover.
ESCS have sent their self-designed ES300 TL system for demonstrations with a major oil and gas company based in the Chinese city of Qingdao.
Talks are now underway regarding the potential for the Chinese firm to order 10 of the innovative machines in a deal worth £250,000.
Manufacturers of specialist corrosion control and spray application equipment, ESCS already boasts major oil and gas operators in Australia, Singapore, Indonesia and Azerbaijan among its customers but managing director Shaun McDonald believes the unique ES300 TL could revolutionise the fire protection industry.
The specialist machines spray thick coatings of intumescent epoxy materials to protect steel structures from the threat of fire on oil and gas refineries, petrochemical plants, fabrication yards and oil rigs.
From its new premises on South Tees Freight Park, ESCS already manufactures and exports the ES430, a larger applicator of passive fire protection, but produced the smaller, faster version on request from its Chinese customer.
Devised by McDonald himself, ESCS invested £27,000 into the research, design and planning of the machine, with manufacturing support from Middlesbrough firms, Teesside Precision Engineering and Donoghue Engineering.
Following initial trials at Azko Nobel in Felling, McDonald now believes the new machine will prove a huge hit across the industry.
He said: “I knew it would do a job, as it will reduce the set-up time and application process on smaller jobs by at least two thirds, but it far surpassed even my own high expectations during the testing.
“This is a real innovation because it will save so much time. There is nothing like this on the market so I think these machines will fly off the shelf once people out there know about it.
“We’re now talking about a potential export order for 10 machines worth £250,000 with a single customer, but China is a big potential growth area for us.
Having added two full-time staff to its increase its team to seven over the past 18 months, ESCS is now looking to recruit an apprentice.
“If demand for the ES300 is as big as I expect it to be then the whole business will grow quickly,” said McDonald, who has worked in the mechanical and electrical engineering industries for nearly 30 years.
“We’re a family-run business – my wife, son and niece all work here – but we have ambitions to grow the business, create more jobs, and venture out into that big wide world out there.”
The four-year-old firm – who work closely with Middlesbrough’s LV Shipping and the Department of Trade and Industry on their experts – has already secured distribution deals in Singapore, Malaysia and China and has interest from Brazil, USA, Canada, India and the Middle East.
But they remain firmly committed to a future on Teesside, with McDonald adding: “This is my area – I love creating jobs here and passing work on locally wherever I can.
“I believe in investing here on Teesside. There is a higher standard of engineering and skills here and the service is second to none.”
• Pictured (above): Managing director Shaun McDonald (front centre) flanked by ESCS staff, Cheryl (left) and Jade McDonald, and (back, from left): Robert Norris, Lee McDonald and Tony Walker.