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Whale pumps £2m into new facility

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Alastair Hamilton, Invest NI, and Patrick Hurst of Bangor based Munster Simms (Whale), at the official opening of the company's new £2m Technology and Polymer centre

Alastair Hamilton, Invest NI, and Patrick Hurst of Bangor based Munster Simms (Whale), at the official opening of the company's new £2m Technology and Polymer centre

Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye

Alastair Hamilton, Invest NI, and Patrick Hurst of Bangor based Munster Simms (Whale), at the official opening of the company's new £2m Technology and Polymer centre

The opening of a new £2m facility for pump firm Munster Simms has capped its "most significant year" since the 1940s, said its managing director.

Bangor-based Munster Simms - also known as Whale - supplies marine, recreational vehicle, caravan and domestic shower drainage industries around the world with pump systems.

The company, which employs around 150 people, exports into more than 48 countries around the world, with sales offices in England, North America, and most recently Sweden and France, and a customer service team based in both Northern Ireland and North America.

Boss Patrick Hurst spoke after the unveiling of the company's new technology and polymer centre, which doubles its facilities in Northern Ireland and which it hopes will help it double export business over the next three years.

"We hope to add between 15 and 20 new staff next year thanks to the new facility," he said.

"We're also hoping to stay on the acquisition trail and are always looking for new opportunities to expand. The new facility will allow us to develop new software and test new products. We're always under pressure and face competition from lower cost markets so getting from the ideas stage to the product on sale as quickly as possible is key in remaining competitive.

"Despite the economic downturn, Whale has grown 55% in the past four years, with turnover this year reaching £15m.

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"During the same time, innovation and research and development have been the primary focus for the company with 17 worldwide patents being filed.

"The business is completely export orientated with almost 100% of all products manufactured in Bangor being sold to the UK, Europe, US and beyond."

Earlier this year the firm acquired Seaward Products, a gas cooker and marine water heater manufacturer in Los Angeles.

Invest NI has offered Munster Simms £750,000 to support the development of the new centre, with Bank of Ireland UK also backing the investment.

Alastair Hamilton, chief executive of Invest NI, said that the company is thriving in the face of a global economic downturn.

"This company has grown significantly in the past five years to become a world leader in key global markets but has remained true to its local roots by retaining all aspects of the business in Northern Ireland including research, design, manufacturing, marketing, testing, and most recently software development," he said.

"I am proud to say that Invest NI has worked closely with Munster Simms for many years on a number of key research and development, skills and job creation projects."

The company was brought back into local ownership five years ago after nearly two decades of ownership by a range of shareholders.

Recent successes include being named in the Best Companies Accreditation and Sunday Times 100 Best Small Companies to Work For, for the third consecutive year running and increasing their position by 19 places in 2012.


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