Belfast Telegraph

New safety law boosts Schrader Electronics

By Symon Ross

Northern Ireland manufacturer Schrader Electronics has created 30 new jobs and revealed plans to double in size within four years thanks to incoming European legislation.

The Antrim-based company, which makes remote tyre pressure monitoring systems (TPMS), is currently recruiting technical staff to help prepare for growth in Europe.

The expansion is expected because safety legislation similar to that which requires TPMS in cars sold in the US will be implemented by the European Commission between 2012 and 2014.

Schrader managing director told Business Telegraph: “The law in America will be adopted in Europe. That has given us a three to four year time frame in which we could double the business both in revenue and employment. These new jobs are all about |getting ourselves geared up for |this fantastic growth opportunity.”

He added: “A mandated product is the best thing you can have when you’re already a market leader. We have got to hold on to our market share by having the best products and customer relationships in Europe — these new jobs improve our technical offer and customer service capabilities.”

From around 30 people in 1998, the company employed just short of 1000 people at the start of last year and had a 50% market share in its sector. Its products are shipped globally to countries including Korea, China and Japan, but most end up in cars sold in the US. As well as increasing safety, it is estimated that correct tyre pressure can save on average 2-3% on fuel — a key factor in the EC regulations being introduced. After enjoying continuous growth the slump in demand for cars during the recession had a knock on effect on Schrader. But following a boost from the US cash-for-clunkers scheme, Mr McClelland believes the worst is over.

“The first six months of 2009 were very tough, but we took a decision to keep everybody on board. We had a no redundancy policy and we cut our costs through a hiring freeze and a pay freeze. But we came back strongly in the second half of the year and we’ve even seen a further |upturn in the first month of 2010.” | The bulk of new manufacturing jobs will be created from 2012, but Mr McClelland said Schrader will continue its graduate recruitment scheme and will take on 10-12 graduates this year. While not all of the future jobs will be at its two factories in Northern Ireland, Mr McClelland said its operations here would definitely benefit. “We will have to somehow double our manufacturing capacity and we have options to expand current facilities or set up new facilities. That will most likely include expansion in Northern Ireland.”

The projected growth comes as |welcome news following announcements last week by Hughes Christensen and Avaya, the buyer of a former unit of Nortel, that they are exiting Northern Ireland with the combined loss of 350 jobs.

While Schrader is a fully owned subsidiary of engineering giant Tomkins, Mr McClelland said it is committed to the province.

“We really are an Northern Ireland company with a Northern Ireland management team and we’re not going anywhere,” he said.

Belfast Telegraph