TMD Friction in Hartlepool has outlined ambitious plans to grow during 2021 after securing over £2m of investment from the TMD Friction Group.
The global automotive manufacturer, which has one of two UK production facilities in Hartlepool, has been making parts for the passenger car aftermarket since 1974 and now employs 449 people in the North East.
TMD Friction, which manufactures brake pads for 95 per cent of the models of Europe’s aftermarket, including emergency services vehicles and many of the major distribution small trucks and vans, moved to its current base on Oakesway Trading Estate in 1998.
And despite the challenging economic climate due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, TMD Friction is building on a successful end to 2020 and first quarter of 2021 by continuing to scale up production to meet global demand and expects to be making around 120,000 parts per week throughout 2021.
The growth has been supported by investment in new employees and new machinery, including £450,000 on a new paint line and £250,000 on state-of-the-art air compressors.
Further investment has been made to make the plant Covid-safe, to upskill staff in all areas of the business, improve health and safety performance and in better software and technology to boost internal communications processes.
TMD Friction CEO David Baines said: “The Hartlepool site has grown massively in the past 12 months, despite the global coronavirus pandemic, and we now have the broadest capabilities in the group at Hartlepool. In fact, the chances are if you are changing the brake pads on your car, they will have been made in Hartlepool.
“To build on that, and really establish this facility as a global centre of excellence, the group has committed significant investment which will support the continued scale up of production.
“Alongside that, we are investing in our existing workforce and bringing new talent into the business which will help us achieve the ambitious plans we’ve put in place for the current financial year.”
The past 12 months have seen 52 new products introduced at Hartlepool and two new flagship customers added to TMD Friction’s portfolio of automotive manufacturers.
The company’s other UK sites in Elvington, Warrington and Cleckheaton have also benefited from investment to support operations at Hartlepool.
Tom Russell, UK operations manager, added: “The growth at the Hartlepool plant over the past 12 months – probably the hardest 12 months we’ve ever faced – is down to the dedication and commitment of our workforce.
“As a team we’ve shown real resilience and as a result only six days of production time were lost during the pandemic – six days where we closed the plant and worked round the clock to get the production areas Covid-safe.
“Since then, production has been significantly upscaled and we’re now making more of the product range here at Hartlepool than anywhere else in the world.
“That’s something we’re incredibly proud of and credit has to go to our staff who have worked tirelessly to ensure we’re consistently meeting production targets.”