An award-winning company set up by the Welsh inventor of the electronic breathalyser is set to beat the £1m turnover mark for the first time this year fuelled almost entirely by export sales.
PPM Technology manufactures toxic gas monitors and indoor air quality sensors. The Caernarfon-based firm has seen turnover rise consistently over recent years, from £660,000 in 2014 to £850,000 at the end of the last financial year in August.
And so far in the five months since September, turnover has already reached £550,000, putting the company well on course to breach the £1m mark this year.
With around 85% of its sales being achieved in overseas markets, it’s no surprise that export sales are the key focus of the business.
PPM was originally set up by Dr Tom Parry Jones, whose Lion Laboratories developed the world’s first electronic breathalyser, in the early 1990s.
After a management buyout in 1999, the company – renamed PPM Technology – changed focus to exploit a newly emerging market for its products in Asia.
Previously PPM had mostly sold its formaldehyde monitors to the hospital market in the UK, EU and USA. But new legislation designed to combat Sick Building Syndrome – a condition linked to poor indoor air quality which can lead to people suffering from headaches, nausea, fatigue, dizziness and eye, nose and throat irritation – meant a new market for PPM’s products emerged in Japan.
First the product had to be adapted to meet the stringent legislative requirements and to cope with the hot and humid conditions in Japan. This meant the monitors had to be made more sensitive – a process that took three to four years.
Once the development had been completed, new markets were quickly opened up, not just in Japan but also in China, South Korea, Taiwan, Malaysia and Hong Kong. The success was reflected in turnover figures, which rose from £150,000 at the time of the management buyout in 1999, to £515,000 in 2004.
Sales have since continued to rise, breaking new records year on year. Key to the company’s export growth, PPM has received a range of support from Welsh Government export specialists including participating in trade missions and attendance at key exhibitions, as well as general export advice.
John Brinley Jones, managing director at PPM Technology said: “We have seen great export success over the years and exports have played a crucial role in growing the company. UK sales are steady, but to achieve growth we must find new export markets, especially in the Far East.”
Although the company originally specialised in formaldehyde monitors, it now produces indoor air quality instruments which can also test for a variety of other atmospheric pollutants including carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, ozone, nitrogen dioxide and volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
PPM Technology operates out of a single facility on the Cibyn Industrial Estate, Caernarfon, where it employs 12 staff. The company won ‘Exporter of the Year’ at the Daily Post Business Awards in 2016 and the company’s managing director John Brinley Jones was named Gwynedd Businessman of the Year in the same year.
With a continual eye on development and innovation Mr Jones said the company is working on bringing out a new indoor air quality monitor.
“We’re always improving our range. We work closely with distributors with knowledge of the market and the appropriate legislation,” he said.
And he paid tribute to the help from Welsh Government in opening up new opportunities overseas.
“The trade missions are fantastic. I’ve been travelling the world for years, and there’s nothing worse than travelling to a country you haven’t been by yourself. When you’re with an organised trade mission you meet so many people and companies, everything’s done for you. They have been invaluable.”