Belfast Telegraph

Engineering firm rolls out 90 jobs in £5m investment

By Margaret Canning

An advanced engineering company, which started out in a hen house before growing into a major firm with clients including Bombardier and Wrightbus, has announced nearly 90 new jobs in a £5m investment.

McAuley Precision and McAuley Fabrication in Ballymoney manufactures components for the transport, aerospace, and oil and gas industries, and now hopes to gain more clients in aerospace.

The company, which was set up by Jonathan McAuley in 1997, currently employs 158 people. Its latest expansion is backed by £620,000 in funding from Invest NI.

Mr McAuley started the company in a hen house at his home in Ballymoney.

Mr McAuley said: "We are aiming for growth in both the aerospace and transportation sectors.

"We are currently working with Bombardier on the Supply Chain 21 (SC21) programme, manufacturing many different components for Bombardier.

"We currently have around 350 components on our order book for aerospace."

He said the company's focus on aerospace and transportation was a strategy it developed last year. "It's a relatively new move for us but we have made good inroads."

Mr McAuley said the firm had previously carried out a large amount of work for the oil and gas industry until a slump in oil prices led to a slowdown in the sector.

He added: "In some ways we have a lot of the skill set to take us into aerospace but it takes a lot of investment and this announcement will certainly help us to break into the sector."

Mr McAuley said it hoped to gain new UK aerospace clients in the near future. And in the transportation sector, the company has made parts for Irish Rail as well as Wrightbus. The firm started out with two machines worth around £1,800, and now has turnover of nearly £10m.

And Mr McAuley said employing apprentices was important to him. "I served my time as a machinist in AVX in Coleraine so I am a great advocate of apprenticeships." The company's investment was announced by Invest NI chief executive Alastair Hamilton on a visit to the firm's premises.

Mr Hamilton said: "McAuley Precision and McAuley Fabrication are established indigenous engineering firms and this announcement is positive news for the Ballymoney area and local manufacturing industry. The significant investment in new technology, marketing and people marks a step change in the development of these businesses.

"Their growth plans are aimed at enhancing McAuley's position to successfully target high-value engineering sectors and in particular the rapidly growing global aerospace sector.

"The 87 new jobs to be recruited over the next four years will generate an additional £2.1m annually in additional salaries and create valuable advanced manufacturing employment opportunities in the Causeway Coast and Glens region."

He said Invest NI had worked closely with both McAuley firms in recent years. "The £620,000 offer of support towards this investment will help the companies to both grow their customer base and help strengthen the Northern Ireland Aerospace supply chain cluster."

McAuley Precision focuses on precision machining and tubular work for the transport, oil and gas and aerospace sectors. And McAuley Fabrication focuses on sheet metal fabrication work, including punching, folding and welding for the transportation sector.

Leslie Orr, manager of trade body ADS Northern Ireland, welcomed the firm's investment. He said it was a strong example of success in the sector - which industry and government aim to double in size to £2bn per year by 2024.

Belfast Telegraph