AN automotive parts-maker is hoping to grow its £5m turnover by 20% in 2013 after strengthening its relationship with a key German manufacturing giant.
South Tyneside-based Ford Component Manufacturing has switched production of high-volume parts from its plant in Hebburn to a 30,000sq-ft site at New York Industrial Estate, North Tyneside.
For the past 15 years the firm has worked closely with German family-owned Freudenberg Group, which makes seals used in the automotive industry.
The move to larger premises will see components for Freudenberg Technical Products (FTP) made durable and anti-corrosive using zinc phosphating treatments. A feature of the new plant is an existing phosphate treatment line where precision pressed parts are given a final chemical finish and seal. The move will mean Ford produces 95% of all press work needed by FTP.
Geoff Ford, chairman of Ford Component Manufacturing and Ford Aerospace, said: “FTP is worth more than £1m a year to Ford Component. We’ve taken on the lease of two of FTP’s three factories at the New York Industrial Estate, and we’re fortunate that all the phosphating equipment is already in place.
“Not only will it strengthen our already close links with Freudenberg, but it will give us the opportunity to expand our operations further afield.
“We do supply a lot in Europe but we have a seen a fall off in demand. At the moment, we’re targeting markets where they are projecting growth. We have agents in China, India, Brazil and South Africa, while we still try to increase our market share in Europe.
“Although the UK will remain a key market for us, it is projecting growth of 1% whereas India and China are predicted to grow by 8 and 9% in 2013. We will never abandon our home market but I can see us making considerable strides with new companies in new countries.
“I think the North East can help lead the UK out of recession through both manufacturing and exporting. We’re the only net exporting region in the UK and we should be building on that.”
Initially 25 staff will work at the new site, producing an estimated two million parts per week. It will continue to produce lower volume work out of its Hebburn site. The move will create up to 15 new jobs, building on Ford’s 160-strong workforce.
Around 80% of parts made at Hebburn are supplied to Freudenberg. The success of the relationship means almost every European car has a Freudenberg seal. While Ford Aerospace specialises in the precision machining and pressing of components and assemblies for the aerospace industry, its sister company Ford Component Manufacturing in Hebburn works in sectors including automotive, rail and energy.
Mayor for North Tyneside, Linda Arkley, said: “This is a borough which puts businesses first, and we are committed to providing first-class support to Ford Component Manufacturing as they establish their new facility, including help with recruitment and accessing funding.”