• Text Colour:
  • C
  • C
  • C
  • C
  • Text Size: A A A

Hood Engineering sets sights on new markets thanks to business programme

05 July 2021

Newtownstewart business Hood Engineering is encouraging other local companies to check out the support available through Derry City and Strabane District Council after seeing a growth in business thanks to bespoke mentoring and advice delivered through the Business Boost Programme.

The programme is part funded by Invest Northern Ireland and the European Regional Development Fund under the Investment for Growth & Jobs Northern Ireland [2014-2020] Programme.

Anthony Hood is the owner of Hood Engineering, which manufactures agri-machinery for the export markets. The main products are the Trailers, Q Hitch and Bale Shears which are typically supplied to agri-retail and direct to farms. The business was established in 2000, and it has since grown steadily in size from Anthony and his son, Jack to include a team of three people. Through the Business Boost programme the company's focus was set very clearly set on exporting and as a result they have been successful in an application to InterTradeIreland's Elevate project.

"The Business Boost Programme gave me the incentive to work on this project, to target potential retail outlets in Ireland and developing brand awareness," explains Anthony.

"In the initial meetings with my Full Circle advisor Patricia, we worked on personifying the potential targets that we should be approaching, what content I should be using to get in front of the decision makers, and what sales messages I need to get sales across the line.

"We also worked on a social media plan and how to get our content in front of the right people through Facebook. Without any digital knowledge I thought this would not be a good use of my time but with Patricia motivating me, I discovered that I could use online tools and do the whole job myself.

"It really was great to see the funding that is available for businesses hoping to begin exporting or indeed grow the export side of their business. We were able to work our way through what to do and then actually sit in front of decision makers with the products. We had eight meetings as part of the project and we had the opportunity to establish some long-term connections."

The Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District, Alderman Graham Warke, met with Anthony and Jack Hood at the site to hear more about their venture. He paid tribute to the family's passion and the company's resilience throughout the Covid pandemic. "It was a great afternoon visiting and learning about the machinery. There is certainly a passion for all things machinery from both Anthony and Jack and we look forward to seeing them fully benefit and growing through export on future programmes."

Trying to grow the business during the COVID-19 pandemic was an experience which Anthony admits has had its challenges. But thanks to commitment, perseverance and some targeted support, Hood Engineering is now in a position to further develop its marketing strategy and the company will be signing up for the Business Innovation and Growth programme with Derry City and Strabane District Council.

The BIG Programme provides one to one mentoring support covering topic areas such as general business planning, finance, sales, communications, digital marketing, cyber security and e-commerce.

Business Development officer with Council, Tara Nicholas, said: "I am delighted to see businesses like Hood Engineering using the expertise gained through mentoring to target new markets and refine their business strategy. This has been an exceptionally challenging time for all sectors, and Council has been working closely with local businesses to develop the bespoke support they need to adapt and thrive in this changing climate. I look forward to working with Hood Engineering as they continue their journey as part of the BIG Programme."

Themed workshops and seminars will also become available throughout the programme aimed at enabling business growth and equipping businesses with the additional skills and development to complete within a digital global market.

Businesses from within the DCSDC area with less than 50 employees, and the potential to create at least one Full Time Equivalent (FTE) job as a result of the programme support are eligible to apply for the BIG Programme.

One thematic programme of real relevance is the export programme 'Cross Border Sales Programme' which has a deadline of 9th July for applications. Get in touch with [email protected] or 028 9069 1027 for more information.