A precision injection moulding company that is fast becoming one of Teesside’s success stories has started work on a warehouse extension to help meet the growing demand for its services.
Icon Plastics is building the 7,500 sq ft warehouse extension on its two acre site at Eaglescliffe and the construction comes hard on the heels of £500,000 of investment in new machinery and equipment made during the past 12 months.
The company specialises in plastic injection moulded components and assemblies to customers in sectors from automotive, agricultural, health and construction to defence and electronics, often winning contracts against stiff national competition.
Icon Plastics purchased its own premises about three years ago with the help of a £200,000 investment from UK Steel Enterprise, the Tata Steel business support subsidiary, and has since gone from strength to strength.
Managing director Gareth Thomas, who bought the company in 2008, said: “Without UKSE’s investment and support the business would not have grown and been as successful as it has.
“Since we received that finance we have increased our workforce from 25 to 60, have almost doubled our injection moulding machine capacity from 16 machines to 28 and are operating 24-hour shifts five days a week.
“Having struggled with premises it was a huge relief to get into our own factory and the two acre site has given us room for expansion including the new warehouse which will make a big difference to us.”
The company also attributes its success to investment in the most efficient manufacturing equipment, including robotics, and to bringing in plastics sector specialists and investing heavily in training for all employees to ensure it has the necessary skills.
“Our market is mainly in the UK with a small percentage of export though we see potential areas for growth in a number of countries,” said Gareth Thomas. “We have made significant moves into the telecoms sector recently which has opened up another new area for us.”
The investment from UK Steel Enterprise was made up of a £100,000 loan and a £100,000 grant from a UKSE scheme backed by the government’s Regional Growth Fund. Without the new premises the company could have been forced to downsize and outsource some manufacturing abroad.
Sarah Thorpe, UK Steel Enterprise’s area manager, said: “Our remit is to support businesses with the potential to grow and create jobs in steel areas and Icon Plastics is a definite success story for Teesside.
“Our investment has helped to keep it firmly rooted in the area and it has rewarded our confidence with a fast-growing customer base and workforce.”