The first manufacturer to commit to Birmingham’s Advanced Manufacturing Hub at Aston Hall Road, after building a brand new 120,000 sq ft (11,150 sqm) factory, will officially open its facility today.
HydraForce Ltd is an international manufacturer of high performance electrohydraulic controls, which turns over in excess of £50 million. It completed and moved into the building last year, following £1.8 million of investment from the Government’s Regional Growth Fund.
The new facility is the largest single investment the company has ever made, and signals its continued confidence in Birmingham as a European manufacturing and skills hub.
The building will be officially opened by John Pepe, Chairman of the Board at HydraForce Inc, the Birmingham manufacturer’s parent company based in the USA in front of employees, customers and representatives from the local community and City Council.
The new facility adds an additional 75,000 sq ft (7,000 sqm) of manufacturing capacity, enabling the company to boost production of its electrohydraulic cartridge valves and other products for the European market. The three-story building has production and testing areas on the ground floor, engineering and sales offices, and training areas on the first and second floors.
HydraForce, which celebrates 28 years in Birmingham this year, is the first tenant of the city’s Advanced Manufacturing Hub, one of six economic zones identified by the City Council to drive Birmingham’s future growth ambitions. Having been the first manufacturer to commit to the brownfield site, HydraForce is delighted that its early confidence is being shared. Two neighbouring developments are currently under way, including a speculative development of a £8.5 million, 94,000 sq ft manufacturing facility by Trebor Developments and funded by Aviva.
HydraForce, a privately-owned company, operates five manufacturing facilities across the world. HydraForce’s other sites are its corporate headquarters, innovation centre, and precision machining centre in North America and a manifold assembly plant in Asia. HydraForce’s previous manufacturing facility in Birmingham, at St. Stephens Street, has been sold.
Peter Macdonald, HydraForce’s managing director, said: “Our new Birmingham facility is helping us improve our speed to market throughout Europe, and into Turkey and India. More than 80% of the product we build in Birmingham is exported. This is a really good news story for British manufacturing.”
Leader of Birmingham City Council Cllr John Clancy said: “The Advanced Manufacturing Hub vision is now becoming reality and it’s exciting to see the HydraForce facility officially open for business. HydraForce is a big Birmingham success story creating high quality jobs and enhancing our city’s growing reputation for advanced manufacturing.”
HydraForce’s skilled and motivated workforce is one key reason for the business’s resilience and growth, added Peter Macdonald. “Our employee’s knowledge and expertise is invaluable to our continuous growth and many of them have grown up with the company. The Advanced Manufacturing Hub at Aston Hall Road is logistically well placed, just off the Aston Express Way, and we were delighted that every employee, which number in excess of 350 in the UK, made the move with us.”
Following expansion, the company is expecting to increase job opportunities. “Attracting the right people with the right skills at the right time is an on-going challenge for every engineering manufacturer, but our well-established apprenticeship programme and strong links with higher education make us an attractive career choice for many,” said Peter. Employment at HydraForce in Birmingham is expected to increase to 500 people by 2020.
HydraForce president, Jim Brizzolara, added: “We are delighted to witness this new stage of growth for HydraForce in Europe. This new location at the Advanced Manufacturing Hub will help us bring new electrohydraulic technology to the European market faster than ever before. It improves our global efficiency and give us a solid base for continued growth in Europe.”
HydraForce, which celebrates 28 years in Birmingham this year, was first established in Chicago, USA in 1985 and HydraForce’s Europe HQ was set up in the UK just three years’ later. Since then the company has successfully ridden two difficult recessions and the business has grown significantly.
HydraForce designs and manufactures high performance hydraulic fluid power cartridge valves, custom manifolds and electro-hydraulic controls. It has created thousands of custom control solutions for a variety of off-highway industries, encompassing farming, construction, marine, material handling, mining and forestry. All five facilities follow the same ISO 9001 standards to ensure global consistency in product quality. Since its founding, HydraForce continues to be a privately held company as it has grown to over 1000 employees, global manufacturing locations in North America, Europe and Asia, and a network of over 120 stocking distributors who can offer local support across the globe.
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