A Laurelvale manufacturing firm has exported a series of its specialist machines – adding up to several £millions – all over the world.
Rapid International manufacture massive bespoke concrete mixing machines (or mobile batching plant). And recently their products have been shipped all over the globe for major contracts.
These include a 61,000-seater stadium in north London, a gold mine in Tanzania, road projects in New York and Houston, a hydro dam in Mexico, a £multi-million housing projects throughout England, and diverse contracts in countries like Australia, Sweden, Saudi, Germany and Latvia – about 30 countries in all.
The company, which was founded in 1969 by the late Bertie Pickering and Jim Lappin, employs around 55 personnel. And it is a matter of great pride that they did not lay off a single employee during the deep recession.
Said export sales manager John Pickering, “In fact, the recession helped us in the long run. Up until then, our main sales were to the home market. But the downturn made us focus on exports, and now that the building trade is moving out of recession, we are stronger than ever.”
Their pride and joy right now is providing one of their massive machines for the 61,000 seater football stadium currently being developed by a Premiership club in north London. For business reasons, they are not allowed to name the client, “but most football fans can guess”.
The project also encompasses new homes, a supermarket, a primary school, a public square, a new university technical college and new administration for the soccer club. A firm called CRH Tarmac are the on-site concrete contractors for the scheme. They are delighted with the standard of the Rapid machinery.
Newly re-elected Newry and Armagh MLA Danny Kennedy – whose constituency includes Laurelvale – toured the factory on Friday to see for himself the products of “one of the best-kept secrets of manufacturing success in County Armagh.”
He said, “I am deeply impressed by what I have seen – the making of quality products which are respected within contracting trade throughout the world. Rapid are truly an international company, a local firm established by local people and going stronger than ever after almost 50 years. I heartily congratulate everyone involved with the company.”