An Arbroath heavy engineering firm is expanding its workforce after securing a $7 million contract with global steel conglomerate ArcelorMittal.
Kirkton Industrial Estate-based John M Henderson said the deal to manufacture and supply two charging cars machines which feed coal into industrial coke ovens as part of the steel-making process would provide 18 months of work for the factory.
The new contract, awarded following a competitive tender process involving five companies from around the globe, builds on an existing relationship between the two firms which saw Henderson’s recently complete a similar project for the steel giant in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Once operational, the new 130-tonne charging cars are expected to increase efficiency and reduce emissions at ArcelorMittal’s Tubarao integrated steel plant in Vitoria, Brazil.
Executive chairman Alistair Lauchlan said the company was now in recruitment mode to add to its 97-strong local workforce.
He said Henderson’s would be seeking five new full-timestaff and there would be further work available in fabrication, welding and in the firm’s machine shop. He also said the company was committed to increasing its in-house apprenticeships.
“Winning this order secures the business for the rest of the year,” Mr Lauchlan said.
“There is about four or five months of work for our design office, and we have taken the decision to build the machines here in Arbroath rather than on previous projects where we have built overseas.
“We discussed building them in China. It was going to be marginally lower cost, but we decided there was too much risk and it was better to have full control over the project here.
“ArcelorMittal are by far the biggest steel-makers in the world and we have supplied equipment to plants they now own in the past.
“The Bosnia contract was a first direct order with the company, and we are now building on that success.
“To come first in a (tender) competition which included two companies from Germany and one from China was pretty pleasing for us.”
Aside from the steel industry, Henderson’s has strong links with the North Sea oil and gas industry and also the mechanical handling sector.
The firm achieved revenues of £6.6m in the year to June, and Mr Lauchlan said he expected that figure to rise in the current financial year as the ArcelorMittal deal boosted its order book.
“That figure has been pretty steady but we would expect to be doing better (this year),” he said.
“We have a few projects ongoing but this has come at a good time for us.”
Henderson’s can trace its roots to Aberdeen in 1866, and its factory was given over to supporting the war effort during the Second World War.
The firm first became involved in the manufacture of coke ovens for the National Coal Board and British Steel in the early 1950s, and the machines soon became the company’s principal product line.
The company also supplied cranes used in the construction of the original Forth Road Bridge in 1959.