More jobs in pipeline as Plymouth firm turns over £15m
CITY manufacturer Pipex px has just had its best ever year of business – turning over a recession-busting £15million.
Now the award-winning Roborough-based company has plans for a further five years of expansion including more jobs in the pipeline.
The news follows assertions, reported in The Herald yesterday, from chiefs at fellow big business Princess Yachts that its 2,200 jobs were safe.
At Pipex px, bosses say they are recruiting now, investing heavily, and pushing into new markets and products. It has just purchased the lease to the plant next door and is turning it into a factory to produce handrails made from a composite of glass and resin or polyester.
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Pipex px, which was formed in 1975 and came to Plymouth in a £2million phased move from 2006, has patented the design and expects to sell heavily to the off-shore drilling rig industry, among other uses.
Bill Murphy, joint chief executive, said: "We've had our best year. Our financial year finished in September and we have continued to grow through the recession.
"We have a £15million turnover and are profitable. We employ 140 people and are recruiting, and four new apprentices start this year. There's always something new and exciting."
The company has several other innovative ideas including construction of a 18-metre composite footbridge to be installed over a railway in Dawlish.
It is already involved in designing, manufacturing, supplying and installing composite and thermoplastic products, including pipes, for industries including oil and gas, nuclear, renewables, pharmaceuticals, construction and more, with up to 20 per cent exported including a £1million project in Korea last year.
The firm now has five "factories" on its Plymouth site, one for producing thermoplastics, one for structural composites, another for composite pipes, and assembling and testing facility, and now an advanced manufacturing and compression moulding unit.
This year Pipex px has also invested £150,000 in a lathe, £300,000 in a new IT system and is creating a new marketing suite. It is developing its new factory in a unit bought from a company that relocated. That will be the base for production of its patented Multi Angle Rapid Railing System (MARRS) handrails and will include a paint shop, heavy presses, fridge storage and compression moulding gear. "It's part of our growth plans for next year," said Mr Murphy. "In fact, we have growth plans for the next five years. We plan to maintain the apprenticeship scheme and will also need new skills in all departments."
Mr Murphy explained that composites are lightweight and don't corrode, non-conductive but are strong.
It gives them the edge over steel, concrete and wood, and allows, for instance, a bridge to be installed overnight. And the cost of composites, which are oil based, has remained relatively stable compared to the widely fluctuating steel market. But it is the firm's ability to develop new products which is fuelling its growth. "We are prepared to take on innovative big projects," said Mr Murphy.
Since coming to Plymouth the firm has continued to expand and earlier this year Princess Anne opened its £300,000 Innovation Centre, designed and built to develop staff training ethics and innovation skills.
Last year it bought Scottish competitor SCS and is now making protective coverings for oil drilling platforms.
The company was originally set up by Alan Smith, and is still privately owned and family run.