People, Places, Business

Port Talbot based company open the flood gates to meet worldwide demand

MM Engineering hasn’t just put down roots in Port Talbot; it is as securely anchored to the area as the flood and defence equipment it manufactures.

Set up in 2016 by brothers Chris and Martin McDermid and fellow owner-director James Morton, MM Engineering has rapidly made a name for itself in the flood and blast defence industry.

Initially focussing on the design of flood defences for major projects and security blast doors, the move three months ago to new premises at Seaway Parade Industrial Estate in Baglan has enabled to company to expand into manufacturing.

Using UK steel, MM designs and builds bespoke floodgates, doors and windows for a range of utility and engineering clients, as well as blast doors capable of withstanding the blast from explosions equivalent to the force of 100kg of TNT detonating at a distance of 25 metres.

Explains MM’s director business management, Chris McDermid, “We wanted to have control over the manufacture and quality of our products too, so instead of sub-contracting the process we decided to set up our own facility and build our own team.”

Chris believes assembling the specialist fabricating team has been made easier by being located in Neath Port Talbot - an area with rich industrial history and the right fabricating engineering skills.

“We feel strongly that working in NPT suits our business really well. Our business culture fits into this area, and you can feel that you’re in a place of industry with the right skill set. When we advertised we were very fortunate that we had such experienced applicants and that we could choose.”

The company employs ten staff at its new 6,000sq ft unit but is looking to potentially double that number within three years.

Proximity to the M4 has also played a part in MM’s success, helping the company service contracts across the UK and abroad too.

“We currently have projects in Scotland, Yorkshire, Norwich, Jersey, Asia and the Middle East; so having these transport links is critical - and the location of this industrial estate is fantastic.”

The move from a purely design-based business to a design and build enterprise has required investing £80,000 in specialist equipment. Help with capital expenditure to set up the manufacturing unit has been forthcoming from NPTCBC – which was also instrumental in finding the right premises.

Says Chris, “Right from the early stage of planning we said we wanted to stay in this area and we have faith in the support from NPTCBC’s Regeneration and Economic Development team taking us forward.

“The support we have had has been tremendous, they have been in regular contact, and it is proper personal support, you feel like you have someone on your side. It is really important to the NPT team as they want businesses to grow here, and we want to stay here and help the local economy. I’d absolutely recommend Neath Port Talbot as a business location.”

Indeed, Chris and Martin - who both moved from Essex to Wales after university - are so enamoured with their location that the company’s corporate image features the surrounding area.

“The fabrication world is very competitive, and we believe in projecting the right image to staff and customers,” he says.

With this in mind, the office area features a rather unusual meeting table made on the premises by MME’s staff. The wooden top represents the local forestry, and the distinctive metal 'M' shaped legs are the link with industry.

“We’ve tried to capture the essence of Port Talbot; it is something we have thought about as we feel a real affinity with the area.”