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Smiley Monroe announce US expansion

Ryan Wright, Chris Monroe and Jayne Peters

Northern Ireland company to open manufacturing facility in Kentucky

In a move driven by customer demand and strong industry forecasts, leading conveyor belt producers Smiley Monroe have announced the opening of a manufacturing facility in Franklin, Kentucky. This US$2 million investment, assisted by Danske Bank and the Commonwealth of Kentucky, will create 30 new full-time jobs in the local area, as well as safeguarding jobs at the company’s headquarters in Lisburn, Northern Ireland.

Over the past 40 years the company has grown to become a leading producer of highly customized endless conveyor belts and custom rubber and plastic parts to the mobile equipment sector, exporting to more than 60 countries and supporting leading customers such as Powerscreen, Terex, Wirtgen, McCloskey, Astec Industries, Sandvik and CDE.

The Group says its success to date has been born out of a philosophy of staying close to its customers. With a growing customer base in the region and increasing political uncertainty/export restrictions manufacturing ‘in America for America’ was seen as a natural strategic move. Smiley Monroe say they have all the pieces in place to be producing in the US by January 2020.

Chris Monroe, Smiley Monroe’s global sales director, commented: ‘With the political uncertainty both in the UK and beyond, protecting our export sales is paramount to growing the business and safeguarding jobs in Northern Ireland. Having a base in the US will shorten lead times for customers and help us be more competitive in the tough US market. Removing barriers to trade will fast track our ambitious growth plans to increase turnover by 50% over the next three years.’

Proximity to major customers, an available workforce combined with the financial and logistical assistance offered by the Commonwealth of Kentucky were the deciding factors when the base was chosen for Smiley Monroe Inc. The company will be working closely with Simpson County in the coming months to recruit a core team of production operatives and support staff with employee numbers set to expand to 30 over the next five years as the operation ramps up.

Smiley Monroe are no strangers to global expansion, with the new American facility mimicking the company’s successful India-based factory. Initially, this plant will produce the company’s core product - endless conveyor belts as well as Zip Clip, the mechanically fastened replacement belt. Many support services and non-core products will still be provided from Smiley Monroe’s Northern Ireland headquarters.

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