Antrim company wins breakthrough deal in US

Drain Master, the Antrim-based specialist in drainage services, has won its first deal in the US with help from Invest Northern Ireland. The company is supplying its innovative drain repair kits to a major client in Denver, Colorado.

The contract, the company’s first business outside the British Isles, follows the participation of Charlotte Adair, a Drain Master founding Director, on a recent Invest NI trade mission which was supported by staff at the Northern Ireland Technology and Development Centre in Denver.

The contract for Drain Master’s Localised Repair Kit (LRK), was announced by Mrs Adair, who formed the business in 1999 with husband Alan, and welcomed by Tracy Meharg, Invest NI Managing Director of Innovation and Capability Development. The LRK product provides a fast and reliable means to repair drainage pipes without the disruption of having to excavate pipelines.

Mrs Adair says: “Taking part in the trade mission to Denver led to a contact with a senior executive of a major utility in the city. As it happened, he had been searching for a product that would enable drains to be fixed with the minimum of surface disruption. Our kit has been designed to meet this specific requirement. What it does very well is to enable pipe breaks to be pinpointed easily using CCTV and then to be fixed quickly. There’s no need to close and dig up a road for example. This feature also has obvious health and safety benefits.

“The Denver contact bought a trial kit and we provided initial on-the-ground training to his employees. The trial proved to be such a success that he quickly ordered a number of kits. Further orders have followed from Colorado. The trade mission was tremendously important because it showed us that we had developed a product with immense export potential, probably the best on the market, and that we could compete successfully in one of the world’s most demanding markets.

“Invest NI has helped us enormously by providing expert guidance and very practical support in both Denver and in Northern Ireland including the immensely useful Preparing to Export programme,” she adds.

In addition to support for the trade mission, Drain Master has also been assisted by Invest NI’s North Eastern Regional Office in Ballymena.

Tracy Meharg says: “The US contact is a very substantial boost for Drain Master and has encouraged the company to look at how it can maximise the potentially huge business potential of its LRK product in the US and other international markets.

“The drainage problems it is helping to solve in Colorado are not, after all, unique to the US.  The challenge now being addressed the company is how to identify and exploit opportunities throughout the US and other markets. Our export programme is ideal for ambitious companies such as Drain Master which are keen to gain the knowledge and skills for accelerated growth in their target markets.

“Drain Master is an excellent example of an enterprising smaller business which has now moved into successful exporting through the development of a highly innovative product.”