Belfast Telegraph

Thornton Roofing and Dowds building for future with 100 new jobs

By John Mulgrew

Two Co Antrim family-run firms in construction and manufacturing have announced they are creating 100 new jobs.

That includes roofing and cladding firm Thornton Roofing, which is creating 50 new jobs as part of an £8m expansion as it benefits from the lift in the building trade.

The company, which operates throughout Ireland from its Toomebridge headquarters, has landed a series of big contracts over the last few months.

These include one for work on the new Waterfront Hall extension, along with one for Altnagelvin Hospital in Londonderry.

And Ballymoney firm Dowds Group is adding another 46 jobs to its workforce, paying an average of £21,300.

The firm, which designs and builds mechanical and electrical products for industry, has received almost £200,000 from Invest NI to create 32 of the new posts.

James Dowds, managing director, said the company has also committed around £1m to expanding its business in Great Britain and the Republic.

"The introduction of new staff gives us greater capacity and enhanced confidence to deliver on our strategy of long-term growth," he said.

"We have secured contracts which will see our turnover increase by 35% for 2016 and we will continue our investment in new talent to build a stronger company and further develop our customer base."

And as well as creating 50 new jobs, Thornton is taking on more than a dozen apprentice joiners. It also celebrates 50 years in business in 2016.

Stephen Thornton, managing director, said his company hoped to benefit from a recovery of the UK's construction sector.

"While we do work in the Republic and Britain, from time to time, our core business over the last five decades has been drawn from Northern Ireland, latterly in the form of projects at the Waterfront Hall in Belfast, Altnagelvin Hospital, the Museum of Free Derry and the Seamus Heaney Centre in Bellaghy," he said.

"A key element in our growth programme, however, will be securing of contracts in England and Scotland. Having experienced consistent growth in recent years, we believe we are poised to enjoy the benefits of our growing reputation for roofing, cladding, small works, maintenance and architectural metal-works."

Mr Thornton said he's now confident he can almost double staff numbers over the next five years.

"We envisage the recruitment and training of bright young apprentices as critical to achieving further growth with employment levels being increased from 60 to 110 by 2021," he said.

"As part of the growth programme Thornton plans to expand its office accommodation and manufacturing facilities at Toomebridge with the addition of a new 1,000 sq m building."

Congratulating Dowds Group on its expansion, Enterprise Minister Jonathan Bell said: "The new positions will contribute over £980,000 annually in salaries to the Northern Ireland economy and signals encouraging growth in the construction sector."

Belfast Telegraph