Invest NI helps Fermanagh firm sail to better performance

Lisnaskea company Ernecraft has achieved export sales success following a £80,000 investment backed by Invest Northern Ireland.

The company designs and manufactures motor boats for the recreational maritime market. R&D support from Invest NI is helping Ernecraft to improve its boat manufacturing process through the use of innovative Glass Reinforced Plastic (GRP) technology.

The manufacturing process is now based on the assembly of specially designed GRP-moulded components rather than building from scratch, enabling a huge decrease in the completion time per boat from several months to several weeks.

Ernecraft recently unveiled the latest version of its flagship Isis 920 model, manufactured using the new GRP technique, at the prestigious London Boat Show. This resulted in a number of quickly secured sales to external customers as well as enquiries from Great Britain, Republic of Ireland and mainland Europe.

Colin Beattie, Managing Director of Ernecraft, is pleased with the improvements made as a result of the investment: “We received a lot of positive customer feedback on the Isis 920 and it became clear that, with the leisure boat market growing, there was an opportunity to further increase our sales if we could speed up production.

“With Invest NI’s help, we began using GRP components and significantly streamlined our manufacturing process. The GRP mouldings are much more easily assembled and also provide an even higher quality finish to the interior of the boat than we could previously achieve.

“Following our participation in the London Boat Show, demand for the Isis 920 is now such that the reduced production time has been crucial in fulfilling orders quickly.”

Mr Beattie added: “Invest NI also helped us to develop our marketing, sales and distribution capabilities across Europe and, following the overseas interest we have attracted, we now hope to fully exploit the export potential of the Isis 920.”

John Cooke, Invest NI’s Director of Innovation, Research and Technology, said: “Ernecraft has recognised the significant benefits that can result from taking a new approach to established manufacturing processes. By harnessing the latest innovative GRP technology, the company has increased both the number and quality of the boats it can produce. Ernecraft is now well placed to increase its market share and compete internationally.”

Invest NI provided research and development funding for this project through its Product and Process Development programme, which is part funded by the European Competitiveness Programme 2007 – 2013 under the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).