Invest Northern Ireland Chairman Prof Fabian Monds recently visited Fleming Agri-Products at Newbuildings, Londonderry where he was briefed about the company’s commitment to employee development and its success in markets outside Northern Ireland.

Prof Monds congratulated the company on winning three awards at the recent National Training Awards. The company gained regional and national awards and also won a special award for ‘effective training to develop a small business’ at a ceremony in the Guildhall, London, on Tuesday.

A family-run business formed in 1860, Fleming Agri-Products manufactures a range of agricultural machinery products including bale lifting, transporting and stacking machinery. Other machinery includes land rollers, grass toppers, yardscrapers and cultivation equipment.

Said Prof Monds: “This is a very progressive small business which has benefited substantially in productivity, sales and profits from its commitment to training and customer focused services.

“It has taken advantage of support provided through Invest NI’s Company Development Programme to focus on innovation. By moving closer to its clients and focusing on innovation the company has trebled its product range and introduced processes that have increased efficiency. Among new products developed are hydraulic folding land rollers/ levellers, small parkland equipment and an expanding range of grass topping machinery.

“The improvements in productivity and customer services and the expanded product range have underpinned an aggressive marketing campaign that has resulted in new business for the company in Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland. In addition, the company has used Invest NI trade services to explore in markets such as the Netherlands, Australia and New Zealand.

“Manufacturing companies in traditional sectors make a significant contribution to the Northern Ireland economy in terms of exports and employment. Invest NI will continue to assist these companies to grow by initiatives which help them to compete more effectively through innovation and enterprise,” said Prof Monds.

The company currently sells around 80 per cent of its machinery to customers in Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland.

Prof Monds was welcomed by George Fleming, Managing Director of Fleming Agri-Products, and met other members of management team and staff during the visit.

Mr Fleming said: “We were delighted to have received such recognition in the National Training Awards. It’s a marvellous boost for everyone at the company and a great endorsement of the dedication and quality of the entire team.

“We’ve restructured, refocused and created a much more professional business with help from Invest NI. As a result, we’ve become more much competitive and have grown steadily in our existing markets. Experience and expertise gained will also help us as we seek to exploit new opportunities that we’ve identified in the Benelux region,” he added.