Fleming Agri-Products has won its first business in Australia for an innovative trailer developed with help from Invest Northern Ireland.
The company, based at New Buildings in Co Londonderry, has shipped a container load of a new design of general purpose trailers to a customer in Melbourne. The tractor trailers were developed by the company with R&D support from Invest NI.
The small tractor trailers are geared at a niche market demand for a multi-purpose trailer that can be used by farmers, building contractors, waste disposal businesses, and in maintenance operations on golf courses and parkland.
The export breakthrough in Australia was announced by George Fleming, Managing Director of Fleming Agri-Products, and welcomed by Des Gartland, Manager of Invest NI’s North West Regional Office. The company also recently secured overseas sales this year for machinery from new clients in Norway, Malta, Holland and Saudi Arabia.
Mr Fleming, commenting on the Australian business, said: “The order gives us a springboard to a huge market which we believe offers us significant scope for growth. We developed the new trailer to meet a market opportunity that we had identified for such a flexible and compact product. Invest NI’s Product and Process Development scheme was immensely beneficial in that it provided funding and practical support for the development and manufacture of the trailer.
“The initial approach from Australia came through our website from a machinery dealer who had previously used our equipment when he was based in Scotland.
“The new trailer has been developed in line with our strategic focus on adding value to our machinery and services. We recognise that growth, even in today’s difficult business climate, can best be achieved by investing in the development and marketing of products which meet market demands. Our business is built on the closest possible contact with existing and potential customers in both domestic and international markets.
“Our focus is on ensuring we have the products, operational flexibility, and customer services that will ensure our competitiveness in both domestic and international markets. The Australian deal is an important boost for the business as we seek to grow sales outside Northern Ireland to around 80 per cent of total turnover by the end of 2010,” added Mr Fleming.
Mr Gartland said: “This is a very encouraging development for a company which has long been focused on new product development, particularly for markets outside Northern Ireland.
“The company demonstrated the strength of its commitment to grow through exports and the entrepreneurial approach which underpins the business by responding quickly to a tentative approach from Australia. It quickly turned this internet-based approach into a significant contract which could lead to repeat business from this huge marketplace.
“The company has worked closely with us across a range of programmes covering trade activities, R&D, and business improvement. Its growth strategy has also been influenced by recommendations made from our Business Healthcheck service.
“Fleming Agri’s focus on competitiveness and on expanding its markets is an example to other companies seeking the best route to growth in today’s economic conditions,” he added.
Fleming Agri-Products is a fourth generation family company – the business has been in operation for almost 150 years – which now manufactures high quality agri machinery products such as bale handlers, grass toppers, cultivation equipment, tipping trailers and muck spreaders.
Earlier this year, the company announced a £1.5 million expansion of its existing facilities and the introduction of new product & materials handling machinery as well as a new paint processing facility.
By the end of 2010 employment is projected to grow to 75 from the current level of 66.