A West Yorkshire engineering firm has doubled its workforce and is expanding into overseas markets after an investment from Finance Yorkshire.
Established a decade ago, Keats Engineering Ltd designs, manufactures, installs, services and operates materials handling machinery, and has a particular expertise in coal processing equipment.
The firm, based in Normanton, has recently doubled its workforce to 20 and returned from a major project in the Ukraine, which was part financed by a £75,000 Business Loan from Finance Yorkshire.
Operations director Guy Nottingham said:
“There is a lot of coal in eastern Europe and therefore a lot of mines and tips. We were looking to partner with a Canadian company which owned two mines and a tip out there but we needed to find out how expensive it would be for us to set up a coal washing plant and how much the tip would yield.
“It turned out there was more coal on the tip than in the two underground mines combined so it was going to be a very worthwhile project to get involved in.
“However, we needed to fund a £1.5 million wash plant and did not have the finance for all the necessary equipment. We could manufacture some of it ourselves but needed to buy in some components like centrifuges and motors.
“The Finance Yorkshire funding helped us purchase those items to fund the Ukraine project – we would’ve struggled without it.
“We’ve taken on ten additional staff in the last six months, too, recruiting some of the best tip management, coal processing and chemical engineers in our industry.
“Finance Yorkshire were excellent to deal with and offered us a really good, professional service throughout.
“This project was the first time we’ve manufactured and operated in partnership and we’re now looking to get involved in similar projects where we install and operate the coal washing plant on the company’s site and then take a share of the profits.
“Looking ahead, we want to continue to expand into new worldwide markets. There are several other opportunities for us to continue to explore in the Ukraine and we are also looking at projects in Australia and the US.”
Finance Yorkshire investment manager Grahame Lunt said:
“The investment gave Keats the additional working capital the company needed to take on and complete the successful project in the Ukraine, as well as expand the team by creating more jobs in the region.”
Finance Yorkshire provides seedcorn, loan and equity linked investments, ranging from £15,000 to £2m to help a range of small and medium sized businesses to meet their funding requirements for growth and development.
The project is supported financially by the European Union. It has attracted £30million investment from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of Europe’s support for the region’s economic development through the Yorkshire and Humber ERDF Programme, £15million from Yorkshire Forward’s Single Programme, and £45million match funding from the European Investment Bank.