North-East neighbours join forces in battle of the potholes

Saturday, 10 December, 2011

United Kingdom

Gavin Blogg
Gavin Blogg

Business Development Manager

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A major investment by a Newcastle company specialising in the manufacture of military equipment is set to allow Sunderland-based road repair specialist Velocity to go to war with potholes this winter.

Velocity is set to accelerate its journey into the overseas market after becoming a partner company of Pearson Engineering, a supplier of countermine equipment to the US Army.

Directors at both companies believe the agreement for Pearson to take a 50% stake will allow Velocity to fulfil its potential as a world-leading supplier of low-carbon, high-quality pothole repair technology.

Already successful and expanding in the UK, Velocity was struggling to meet the increasing demand from overseas but the company will now tap into Pearson’s extensive engineering and production capabilities.

Production of the Sunderland company’s specialist machines has already moved from its base in the town’s Hendon district into one of Pearson’s big sheds in the Walker area of Newcastle, although other operations remain in Sunderland.

The Tyneside sheds are more accustomed to the manufacture of specialised countermine and combat equipment for armoured fighting vehicles that see action in war-zones such as Afghanistan and Iraq.

But now they are also being utilised for the development and manufacture of the Velocity ‘patching’ machines, with overseas orders waiting to be fulfilled.

An order for seven of the vehicles from South Africa and another two from the Gulf was a welcome but hugely demanding challenge until Pearson’s intervention.

“Our Sunderland factory was creaking at the seams,” admitted Velocity managing director Richard Jackson. “Demand has been growing for our vehicles, to such an extent that it was close to outstripping our capacity to produce them.

“Pearson Engineering’s investment has opened up a vast array of resources, not just in manufacturing but in research and development, together with such areas of expertise as the design and software for programmable logic controllers (PLCs). Pearson will help us take velocity patching technology to a new level.

“We want to employ new PLCs to improve our road patching process and vehicles, to make everything more effective and efficient, to cut emissions, effect economies of fuel and reduce our carbon footprint.”

John Reece, chairman of Pearson’s parent company, Reece Ventures Ltd, added: “Velocity is a great company with a high quality product. Together we can broaden the Velocity offer and build on the company’s success both here and overseas. An objective for us is to bring more wealth and employment to the North-east.”

And the investment promises to be great news for Britain’s road-users and local authorities too. Potholes are the scourge of motorists every winter, with more suspension-jarring, bike-toppling potholes in the North-East than anywhere else in England.

Velocity offer local authorities a fast and economic alternative to traditional repair methods, which involve a gang of up to five people kitted out with a lorry-load of asphalt clearing and filling the holes.

Velocity’s machines are self-contained vehicles, carrying all the necessary equipment and materials to repair road defects, with only two skilled staff required to operate them. The use of high-speed patching techniques mean the vehicles are capable of carrying out up to 150 long-lasting pothole repairs each day at a fraction of the cost of conventional methods.

It’s a winning combination that has already attracted business from local authorities throughout England, Scotland and Wales including Northumberland and Durham County Councils in the North-East.

Now, with the investment from Pearson Engineering, Velocity are confident of winning more business both from home and abroad.