AJ Power’s golden generation
When pinpointing companies to look out for in the near future, a number of factors must be taken into account, among them being its growth to date, employee competences, experience of senior management, and the potential growth of the sector the company operates in; AJ Power ticks all the relevant boxes.
Specialising in the manufacturing of diesel generating sets, it has increased year-on-year sales at a staggering rate since it was established in 2004, and can credibly claim to be the fastest growing company in Northern Ireland.
The Craigavon-based company manufactures over 1500 generators a year in its state-of-the-art production plant which houses its 50 plus employees. The units, which range from 10kVA to 3300kVA, are typically found in locations without a connection to a power source or where an emergency or back-up supply is required. With around 95 per cent of the business being export, AJ Power serves clients from countries from across the globe in a variety of industries. Regular customers include mobile communication operators, hospitals, banks and hospitals.
Set up by managing director, Ashley Pigott, and financial director, James Mcllveen, AJ Power had sales of £485,000 in its first year of trading. Fastforward three years to 2007, and that figure has increased to £10.7m, which equates to growth of 181 per cent a year. It is an achievement that has not gone unnoticed; The Sunday Times Virgin Fast Track 100 rated it as the fourth fastest growing company in UK based on sales figures over the last three years. The accolade was made even more impressive as it was Northern Ireland’s only representative in the entire list.
If projections are to be believed, such recognition is unlikely to stop anytime soon. Predicted sales for 2008 stand at £18m in, a growth of 70 per cent. “Getting on the Fast Track list again might be difficult because as a company gets bigger, vast increases in figures become more difficult. However I believe our projections are realistic, the market conditions are very healthy as the amount of energy that is consumed is growing year on year. Wherever there is the demand for energy there are opportunities,” Ashley comments.
His point is illustrated by a number of orders, amounting to £3m, that AJ Power has recently received. In keeping with the company’s impressive global footprint, its products have been installed in a number of international news agencies, for UN peacekeeping activities in Chad, Africa, and at the Irish Embassy in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. While the scale of the export operations are impressive, Ashley is adamant that there is scope for further improvement. “We are currently active in over 50 countries but that leaves over 100 countries where we are not. A lot of companies enjoy early success but become stagnant. We will not allow that to happen – there is still lots for us to do,” he says.
Whilst it is true that the company is still a work in progress, the prosperity and expansion that has epitomised its infancy would suggest that a rich future is in the offing. Ashley is unequivocal in his belief that his small, but talented, staff has been the crucial factor in its rapid rise in the electrical generation sector. When asked what he considers to be the main strength of AJ Power, he says: “It has to be the people. Seventy per cent of our recruits we have working here have either first class, or 2.1 bachelors degrees. The quality of the engineers and the R&D department set us apart.”
He is equally as proud of the quality of the products, from which, a reputation for excellence in innovative power generation solutions has been forged. It has bolstered Ashley’s belief that operating in what was once the heartland of the manufacturing industry is still preferable to perceived cheaper alternatives in Asia and the Eastern bloc. “The predicted downfall of manufacturing in Western Europe is more than premature – established companies will simply not stop their activities here and move everything to China.
“Cheap labour costs and an undervalued currency are highlighted as an advantage in the Far East, but the major companies have low labour costs wherever they are operating. The industry works in cycles and I believe this particular one is nearly finished – there are already a number of examples of factories and plants shutting in China and moving out to Vietnam. We are staying put and will reap the benefits of doing so, as will many like us,” he states.
In an age where many are happy to simply outsource their operations to an outpost with the lowest operating costs, the story of AJ Power is a refreshing one. Its products are of genuine quality and are sought after worldwide. This strong product portfolio is underpinned by a vastly experienced board of directors and team of employees with undoubted credentials – a combination that ensures that nothing is put to chance. The relative newcomer from Northern Ireland is generating not just electricity, but also a platform to become the main player in this most competitive of industries.
Products: Diesel generator units
Sites: Craigavon, Northern Ireland