A West Cumbrian company is planning to continue its 70 year story by expanding into new markets.

McMenon Engineering Services already manufactures flow and temperature measurement instrumentation for customers in more than 60 countries in sectors including oil and gas, defence and automotive.

Its 10,000 square metre site on Workington’s Salterbeck Trading Estate is home to a world-class fabrication facility, top quality CNC machines, small and large calibration rigs and a top quality welding team.

Chief executive Anand Puthran says, given the company’s capabilities, an expansion into nuclear and renewables is less a question of ‘Why?’ than ‘Why not?’.

Three years ago Anand bought the business from multinational ABB, which had operated it for nearly 20 years.

Before this it had been owned by American company Fischer and Porter Since the late 1940s.

“During this period there has been so much focus on product manufacture and they have developed the capabilities on this site to make top quality global application products,” says Anand.

“When you have the capability to manufacture these products to such a high level of certification and quality, why not use that capability towards working in the nuclear sector?”

The proximity of Sellafield and the local nuclear industry obviously played a part in this thinking, although Anand says in time he would hope to work with other global clients as well.

A key move to push the idea over the line came when McMenon agreed to partner up with nuclear engineering specialist TIS Cumbria Ltd, also in Workington, which already has 25 years’ experience in the sector.

Anand says what the companies can offer to the nuclear sector may include some flow meter and temperature measurement equipment, but will mainly focus on design engineering of other products.

“Ultimately it is designing a solution,” says Anand.

“This is why the collaboration with TIS is so important, they have the skill set to work with us on those jobs.

“But if there are jobs that are going to come where we have to make significant investment to increase our personnel and skill set or invest in machinery and capabilities then we are up for that.”

Anand says the business has already been working on product diversification over the last three years and capability diversification was a natural next step.

“However, it’s not just nuclear, why not other sectors?” he says.

“Another area we are quite keen on is the renewable sector, particularly the offshore wind sector.”

He says the similarities between the oil and gas supply chain and offshore wind farm construction means there is an opportunity to enter the renewables market.

“We are trying to gain knowledge in terms of how we can fit into this supply chain,” he says.

“I believe there are synergies to be explored out here.”

This could come in a number of areas, such as putting its considerable expertise in welding to use in the sector or applying its knowledge of deepwater subsea flow meters.

“We could have a lot more people working on the site so we have the capacity and the capability and the ambition to do these things,” he says.

The company’s renewable ambitions are driven partly by the inevitable global shift away from fossil fuels, but also by Anand’s long-term desire to enter the sector.

“As much as it is about the world going in that direction, the idea to be in the renewable industry and to contribute in a positive way to the environment has always been in my mind,” he says.

“The people we have here are brilliant and the confidence we have to provide top quality solutions gives me the confidence to take any challenge, because people here know what they are talking about.

“Wherever I go, the fact that we are a British manufacturer is a huge advantage for us.

“We have the opportunity to tap into that.

“The fact we work with clients all around the world definitely has the potential to create some opportunities and when they do, if it’s within our capabilities, we will always be open to them.”

McMenon has been able to remain open throughout the Covid crisis and began putting in place Covid-19 safety measures in January.

Anand says the main impact was on the way it interacted with its clients, pushing things online rather than face-to-face.

“I for one haven’t travelled for 12 months, the furthest I have been is Manchester and I am usually a globetrotter and so are our sales team,” he says.

“That in itself has had an impact because we are an engineer to order business and we go and talk to people and create opportunities.”

However, he says it has not had a major impact on revenues and there have been no job losses.

The business also invested in stock in reaction to the uncertainty around Brexit.

“Our clients in some cases were expecting us to give them assurance that the flow of products wouldn’t be impacted,” he says.

“We had to invest significantly to make sure we had stock for some of our fast moving products.

He says Brexit has encouraged firms to think more about how they can develop solutions themselves or within the UK rather than collaborating with European firms.

“With British manufacturing maybe that is an angle that all of us should be working, how to bring back those glory days and talk highly about UK manufacturing and advanced manufacturing,” he says.

“I am one who tends to see the white wall rather than the black dot.

“There is no looking back. It’s a decision made.”