Jobs remain 'safe' as US firm snaps up Ballymoney firm
Equipment giant Terex in Co Tyrone has its sights on expansion after snapping up family-run Co Antrim firm JMF for an undisclosed sum.
And it's believed the acquisition by the US multi-national could be followed by further activity in the equipment sector.
JMF employs around 172 people in Ballymoney and has been in business for 25 years since it was founded by the Murray family.
The business specialises in metal fabrication, powder coating and the manufacture of road haulage trailers. The jobs are to be retained by the company's new owners and the Co Antrim site will be renamed 'Terex Ballymoney'.
Terex, which employs nearly 16,000 people worldwide, said it had bought the smaller company in anticipation of expansion in its Terex Washing Systems (TWS) and Terex Environmental Equipment divisions.
A spokesman for the company said: "TWS is focused on mineral washing processes and the environmental business is focused on solid waste recycling equipment, as well as biomass processing machinery which we will launch in the coming months from our Dungannon facility."
The memo circulated among Terex staff said that JMF had been a supplier of fabrication for many years, and had extensive experience with Terex products and its customers.
The memo said: "Our acquisition of this business gives us an opportunity to continue to support existing customers, as well as an opportunity to support our tracked mobile crushing and screening businesses and help in our ambitious growth plans for our TWS and TEE lines."
The memo continued that the company would "like to take this opportunity to welcome some 170 new team members to Terex at our new Terex Ballymoney site". The Ballymoney team and site will be a sub-site of the Dungannon facility. Terex also owns Finlays in Omagh and Powerscreen in Dungannon. Speaking after a meeting with representatives from Terex, DUP North Antrim MLA Mervyn Storey said he had no concerns about the future of the jobs of those employed in JMF in Ballymoney.
In its last filed accounts for the year ending October 31, 2013, JMF made post-tax profit of just over £32,000 - but the directors' report added that trading during the year "had been difficult".
Turnover had fallen from £16.8m to £12.5m while pre-tax profits were £254,016, down from £295,885. However, it had returned to its pre-recession level of employees. In the year to December 31, 2013, Terex had pre-tax profits of around £42.6m.
Last year US firm Astec bought Telestack in Omagh, Co Tyrone for £22m. It's understood Astec could be looking at further acquisitions in Northern Ireland.