Tees-based hydraulics firm Industrial & Marine Hydraulics (IMH) is set for expansion as it bounces back from a period of uncertainty to build on a series of impressive contract wins.
The long-established firm’s ambitious new leadership team aim to make the family business the North East’s supplier of choice for hydraulic engineering solutions.
But one thing they insist will always remain is a steadfast commitment to the values that saw them come through the darkest hour in the firm’s history.
Chairman Paul Griffiths, the man who started IMH from his own home nearly 35 years ago is passing on the baton to a vibrant new management team.
Paul is taking a backseat, safe in the knowledge that his son James is now at the helm alongside general manager Ian Duffew and other members of a newly formed senior management team.
Over more than three decades IMH steadily built a reputation for excellence in the field of hydraulics, working on a number of prestigious projects without ever shouting from the rooftops about either its extensive capabilities or impressive successes.
Then came the double whammy of the oil and gas sector’s economic downturn combined with the impact on suppliers and customers when Teesside’s iconic steel industry continued to struggle.
“It was an incredibly tough period,” reflects Paul. “We hit the buffers, but we had an emotional investment in this business and it was too good to let go. As well as this, we felt responsible for our loyal employees who we refused to let down.
“Ultimately, our values got us through. Perhaps the most important of those is integrity – we’ve always delivered on our promises, treating our customers and suppliers with absolute respect.
“That’s why they were fantastic with us when we needed their support. With their help, we came through a very difficult trading period and learned that we also have very understanding employees who voluntarily took a cut in their working hours. We will never forget that they did that for us.”
For Ian and the senior management team, it’s now all about leading IMH in to a brighter future, and the business is set for take-off.
He explains: “We’re probably one of Teesside’s best kept engineering secrets – but this is changing as clients begin to realise our capabilities.
“We’ve set up a platform to grow and expand our business portfolio. We’ve always had good infrastructure, power generation and marine projects, but we’re now moving into transport – including the automotive and rail industries – while the metals industry is picking up again too.”
The past 12 months has seen IMH bidding on – and securing – far bigger projects than they’ve ever previously taken on.
Noteworthy contract wins include an offshore renewables solution in Aberdeen, a flood defence system in Devon and several significant nuclear projects.
But this is just the start.
• A search to find a bigger, more efficient Teesside base where the firm can develop its centre of excellence.
• A recruitment drive that will see the current IMH workforce of 24 increase by as much as 50%.
• The set-up of a second engineering base in a new location.
• Securing major contracts that will see turnover more than double.
“We’re excited about the future,” says James. “We’re not the biggest, nor are we aiming to be, but we do want to be the best.”
Ian adds: “We have large company capabilities with small company agility. We pride ourselves on being flexible and responsive.
“We’re investing in sales and marketing, we’re investing in our people, and we’re giving a reliable, long-established local firm a new commercial focus that will allow us to continuously reinvest in a business we love to fire us to another level. The potential is huge!”