Cold weather keeps manufacturer moving

SPECIALIST MANUFACTURER Econ Engineering was named SME of the Year at the Variety Yorkshire Business Awards, after seeing double-digit growth in three consecutive years.

(L-R) Econ's Andrew and Jonathan Lupton, Yorkshire Bank chairman Richard Gregory

Econ Engineering, a family-owned business led by directors Andrew and Jonathan Lupton, produces salt spreaders and road maintenance vehicles.

The business, based in Ripon, is responsible for around 70 per cent of Britain’s winter gritting fleet and also exports to Bosnia, Poland and the Falkland Islands.

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Accepting the award, sales director Andrew Lupton said the business had made significant investment in research and development (R&D) to establish itself as a niche manufacturer.

He said: “Twenty years ago we were more agriculturally-based and we realised that wasn’t going to make it pay. We then looked heavily into R&D - we wanted to move the margins higher, we wanted to get into more of a niche market and add some value.”

Mr Lupton agreed with comments made by Thornhill Community Academy headteacher and Educating Yorkshire star Johnny Mitchell that business must work to ensure young people leave school with the skills companies need.

He said: “We do training where the pupils are interested but I certainly echo that there could be a lot more synergies between the education system and the requirements of British business.”

Econ’s future success will be dependent on the ability to maintain barriers to entry for foreign rivals and continuing to grow margins, Mr Lupton added.