East Yorks firm plans expansion after fire recovery
AN AGRICULTURAL manufacturer is set to expand and bring new jobs to East Yorkshire, despite suffering a devastating fire last year.
Sumo has been manufacturing machines for the agricultural industry for 21 years and is planning to expand its 100,000sq ft factory.
It has planning permission for a new work space of just over 32,000sq ft to keep up with more manufacturing.
The cultivation machinery company, which employs just over 60 staff, hopes to start the build this year.
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Marketing and events co-ordinator Rachael Walshaw said this will provide about 16 new jobs.
She said: "The new warehouse is to keep up with demand."
Despite a prosperous workload and buoyant future, the company suffered a major blow last year, when it suffered a huge fire in its warehouse.
The blaze destroyed Sumo's four paint booths, leaving the company relying on local businesses, such as Drakes, Brit Com and Agriweld, to help them get their orders ready.
Rachael said: "We had a full order book and it was really difficult to get the machines out.
"We had to rearrange a lot of things, as we couldn't paint any machines, but we have now got our paint booths rebuilt and up and running again."
Sumo was launched in 1991 by Shaun Wealleans, by buying a transit van, repairing tractors and machinery on farms.
As it progressed, Sumo, which was Shaun's nickname at college, expanded and is now based in Melbourne, near Pocklington.
The company saw a turnover of £8m last year and has more than 2,500 machines working in the field. As it develops, it now wants to move into manufacturing more drills.
It recently launched its DTS drill. This product has been trialed and tested and the new factory will provide the space to make a lot more of this product.
This addition complements its existing range of drills but the company's biggest-selling machine is its Trio, which, according to Rachael, is the product that made the company's name.
As the name would suggest, this machine does three jobs in one.
Rachael said: "There are plenty of machines like this one, but for large farms.
"Ours is suitable for a small-scale farm.
The Trio now accounts for about 50 per cent of Sumo's turnover.
The company, which won an East Riding Council Chairman's award last year, also now exports to a number of countries, with 20 per cent of products being exported.
The first country it tapped into was New Zealand, before moving into France, Uganda and Germany, among other places.
Sumo sources components and services locally but with its foot firmly in the exporting market.
It has also formed ties with a company in Canada, which is manufacturing some machines for Sumo.
Rachael said: "When the Trio came along, the business really took off.
"It has been our biggest-selling product and was how we launched into exporting."
As well as the fire causing a blow, last year was also a difficult time for farmers, due to the bad weather.
But according to Rachael, it has not affected Sumo.
She said: "Farmers may not have been keen to buy new equipment but we are still doing extremely well.
"If farmers are not doing well, they are less inclined to open their cheque books and buy new equipment, but the Trio can save a lot of money and time.
"We are very, very busy. We don't have anything in stock – everything is made to order.
"There is room for the company to keep growing and expanding."