A Ballynahinch company is on track to triple production of its specialist houseboats after investing in purpose-built production space.
Bluefield Houseboats said it will now be able to produce 36 boats a year from just 12 currently after acquiring a 6,000-square-foot factory development on land outside the County Down town. The move, backed by Ulster Bank, has also seen the company create three new jobs and launch plans to further expand the workforce in the future.
Launched only in 2016, the company said it aims to increase production to 100 houseboats a year by creating an additional 13,000 square feet of space on the same site.
The houseboats themselves are largely aimed at the commercial market, but the company said it sees an opportunity to create boats for residential use, as well as support marinas to capitalize on tourism potential.
Chief operating officer Colin Nelson said the goal of the investment, of an undisclosed sum, was to minimize waste and maximize productivity.
“It was about implementing the principles of best manufacturing practices to sustain growth. We already have a very strong proposition and a high-demand product that we believe will only continue to grow as population size and density intensify combined with land availability.”
Technical director Justin Reid said that focusing on production efficiency has been key.
“By streamlining the production process, we are able to eliminate double material handling and increase our output, building up to eight individual houseboats under one roof at any one time compared to just three before.”
Ulster Bank provided the investment for the venture, which Ulster Bank Business Development Manager Derick Wilson says will have a transformative impact.
“Prior to this investment, Bluefield Houseboats had already established a strong reputation for its premium product suite. With the benefit of a purpose-built, modern manufacturing base, the company is now equipped to attract further investment and maximize its export potential in a market with tremendous growth opportunity.”