AESSEAL continue global expansion

Published 26th November 2012 at 9:56am

ROTHERHAM-based AESSEAL plc, the world’s fourth-largest designer and manufacturer of mechanical seals, is investing $5m (£3.1m) in expanding its US operation and has also purchased land and buildings on a site neighbouring its UK headquarters.

The company is creating a high-specification extension to house 9-axis machining centres in its Rockford, Tennessee, HQ.

Until now all such complex machining has been concentrated at its UK HQ, the Global Technology Centre in Rotherham.

The development, to house state-of-the-art metal cutting and shaping machines, is part of significant growth plans – only a few weeks ago, AESSEAL launched its own £1.25m UK apprenticeship programme, and there is more to come.

The company produces seals for industrial sectors ranging from oil and gas to food, water, minerals and mining.  It has been operating in Tennessee for about 20 years and has a total US workforce of about 120 people.  The expansion will lead to the creation of approximately 10 new positions immediately in the US.

AESSEAL continues to grow strongly and in the past 12 months has had the highest job creation in its 30-year history in the UK. Group managing director Chris Rea said: “The decision to invest in the US is not a replacement of, but a complement to, our existing UK manufacturing facilities, which we also intend to expand. In fact, we have recently purchased the adjoining site to our UK headquarters, which will allow us to double our current Rotherham-based workforce at whatever pace our customers allow our business to develop.”

The company says the decision to produce in the US is based partly on issues with cancelled airfreight brought about by ash clouds, security concerns that have caused re-routing of airfreight traffic and the necessity of having at least one other strategic location on another continent, from which it can supply the rest of the world in any future emergency.

Chief executive Jonathan Wilkinson said: “The US is also our largest market and this facility will provide our growing US customer base with another opportunity for emergency (up to 48-hour) supply. Not only will there be no loss of UK jobs, but the company sincerely believes that it will lead to faster overall company growth, globally.”

The US project – which follows a six-month feasibility study – is being led by manufacturing manager Andrew Driver, who is currently a US resident, although he started his career with AESSEAL in the UK more than 25 years ago as a machine shop operator.

This latest US growth project, which has been welcomed by local Tennessee business and civic leaders, follows a $4.4m (£2.7m) investment in expansion in Tennessee in 2008. AESSEAL currently has 230 locations globally and supplies customers in 104 countries.