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Cornish engineering firm seals the deal with a pasty

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: September 04, 2014

Ewart and Debbie Cox

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A global business trading from a Cornish farm has found the charm of the Westcountry has boosted business.

Assentech, a niche engineering company specialising in process safety, giant storage tanks and fluid transfer equipment is on track for a £942,000 sales turnover this year.

The business at Mount Pleasant Farm at Gorran, St Austell has secured a valuable contract with BP UK and brokered the deal over a hot pasty.

Managing director Ewart Cox, who operates the business with his wife Debbie and three other members of staff said: “People find it interesting and we get referred to as the Cornish company.

“I was initially concerned that some would hesitate to use us due to the cost and time required to travel to facilities in London and the north of the UK but on the contrary they find it novel to be dealing with a Cornish company and enjoy telling us of their own experiences of the county as youngsters or with their own young families.

“We have quite a few visitors and always feed them a pasty over meetings and put them up in amazing local hotels. Our most recent visitor was a regional manager from a blue chip supplier who negotiated our distribution agreement during the day then went seal watching by kayak in the evening. We got the contract.”

Ewart, originally from Gloucestershire, spent many years travelling the world working for multi-national businesses in

the process safety industry.

The couple set up Assentech in 2009 and decided to follow the dream of living in Cornwall where Debbie grew up.

Since then, the consultancy, supply and service business has supplied household names such as

Johnson Matthey, BP, Esso, 3M, Cadbury’s, Thames Water and Heinz Foods.

And it has ambitious plans for further expansion with the

recruitment of a junior administrator and an engineering graduate to work in business development.

It also plans to open an academy in 2015 for storage tank venting and tank farm safety training as part of the Continual Professional Development programme for engineers.

The firm is also signed up to Government-backed schemes including Unlocking Cornish Potential and GrowthAccelerator to meet ambitious growth plans to reach sales of more than £4 million per annum by 2020.

Mr Cox said that around 15% of business will come from projects for BP UK Ltd, a similar volume of business will come from UK customers such as Thames Water in London and William Grant & Sons in Scotland.

New products sales in the UK account for the biggest part of the business with a large uptake in export sales in Saudi Arabia.

A high growth area is on-site maintenance and calibration services of breather vents, flame arresters and loading arms. Mr Cox said: “We are stepping in to assist customers who no longer have their own maintenance teams or work with them to provide certification and leakage testing to comply with emissions legislation.”

Mr Cox said that being part of the Cornwall business community is key.

He said: “We always use local suppliers and businesses when we can. You cannot beat good working relationships with the people around you.”

He said that Cornwall’s strong industrial heritage is often forgotten.

He said: “It has produced world famous engineers such as Richard Trevithick, Jonathan Hornblower and Arthur Woolf so it’s not so unusual to have a company thriving in Cornwall that specialises in engineered products.”

Assentech designs and manufactures loading gantries and loading arm accessories and imports tank storage safety equipment, fluid transfer arms and geodesic domes from the USA, Netherlands, Germany and Korea.

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