EARTH-moving kit maker Miller International believes it can nearly double its turnover back up to pre-recession levels in the next three years after winning a series of export deals.
The company, which employs more than 200 people in Cramlington, has amassed a book of order prospects worth £78m and expects to be able to turn 30% of them into orders in the next 18 months.
The company was a high-profile victim of the recession. It saw its sales plunge from £40m in 2007 to £8m in 2009, which left it having to halve its 240-strong workforce the following year. “It was devastating. In the downturn we cut back virtually every area of the business,” said chairman Keith Miller.
“But we did not cut back product development. We have always invested in ensuring we have quality products.”
The company fought back, increasing sales to £13m in 2010 to more than £17m in 2011 and topped £25m last year.
“The core demand hasn’t gone away. There is still a demand for housing, infrastructure, logistics. People are just less certain about what they are doing. It is still a difficult market out there but we really need companies to have confidence,” said Miller.
His company exports around 60% of its products and is looking overseas to increase its market share back up to at least 70% from just over 50% where it currently stands.
The company, which is based in Gibraltar, has offices around the world and believes it can increase its sales by at least 7% in the coming years. Its biggest market is in the US, followed by the UK, Europe, India and a number of other countries including Russia and Australia.
But that all may change in the next five years as the company moves in to the massive and growing Chinese market. Miller has had a presence in the country for around 13 years when it first launched a joint venture to get its quick-coupling product made over there. Since then the joint venture, which sees Miller provide the intellectual property and its northern Chinese partner provide the workforce, grow to employ 1,100 people.
And now Miller expects to make its first sales in the country and believes it has a big run on the competition because of its established Chinese links.
“We have spent a lot of time and money and effort over there and we feel we can make an impact. You only need a very small percentage of the market over there to sell hundreds of thousands of buckets. We are quite hopeful,” he said.
The 35-year-old company is owned entirely by Keith, his sister Jacqui and their brother Gary.
It began as a mobile welding and repair service for quarries, mines and opencast sites and now serves customers including Caterpillar, Volvo, JCB, Komatsu and Hitachi and their dealer networks.