A Co Down businessman whose firm has won four contracts on the massive Crossrail project has encouraged Northern Ireland companies to bid for business on the scheme.
Environmental Fabrications has fitted gantry cranes, access platforms and handrails to sites in east London and Kent to help transport concrete segments that will be used to line the new rail tunnels underneath London.
The company employs around 20 people in Dromore, the majority of whom have worked on the contract.
Joe Donaldson, managing director of Environmental Fabrications – which has been based in the town for around 10 years – said the company has now opened an office in the east of England to accommodate growth provided by the Crossrail work.
"We looked at the different aspects of business and realised that if we were going to be sustainable we had to look further afield for work and we looked where big spend was taking place and the biggest spend was taking place on Crossrail," he said.
"We looked at the process and the procedure of pricing for work and through Invest Northern Ireland we found the CompeteFor web portal, which took us through pre-qualification questionnaires.
"After completing that we received the opportunity to bid for work, and within that process we were able to see what sorts of jobs best suited our business and our capabilities and we asked for work in those areas.
"During the process we set up an office outside London and installed a development manager who started to chase for work and go through the qualification process.
"We started the process in February 2012 and we were on site by June 2012. There was also intelligence gathered during the process which meant we were able to win other work in Basildon and we are also working on Reading University.
"There are other companies that we wished to do business with and the Crossrail project and the process through which we won the work enabled us to achieve those links.
"I cannot speak for other companies but I have a great team here and in all honesty if we had not chosen to bid for work outside of Northern Ireland we would have been forced to shut the gates."
Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster said that the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment and Invest Northern Ireland are working to encourage and assist more firms to get a slice of one of the most significant infrastructure projects ever undertaken in the UK.
"We have a wealth of experience and skills here that are hugely beneficial when competing on the global stage," she said.