An ambitious County Durham ground investigation business has secured a one million pound investment package to help support its growth ambitions.
Exploration & Testing Associates (ETA) has established a new state-of-the-art materials testing laboratory at its head office in Bowburn from which it is working with a growing number of clients right around the UK.
It is currently going through the final stages of its assessment by the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS), the government body which assesses competence in the materials testing sector, and is expected to be fully up and running in the near future.
Funding for the project has been secured through private investment, RBS and NatWest, while ETA has also worked with regional fund management firm NEL Fund Managers to secure a £150,000 investment from the North East Growth Capital Fund Supported by the European Regional Development Fund.
David Wilson, corporate finance director at Clive Owen LLP, provided corporate finance advice on the fundraising and investment process.
Alongside opening the new laboratory, ETA has also recruited a number of highly-qualified specialists who will help drive the development of the services provides by the business, which are predominantly aimed at clients in the construction and development sectors.
The new lab is the latest stage of ETA’s plans to establish a network of regional offices which offer ground investigation, on-site and laboratory materials testing, along with geotechnical and geo-environmental advice and reporting.
It is also aiming to build its workforce up to around 70 people as part of this process.
ETA was founded last year by chairman Ken Marsh, who has more than three decades’ experience of working in the ground investigation industry and has been central to the growth and success of several of the sector’s best-known names.
He says: “The experience I’ve had of building up businesses in this industry will help our young team develop their commercial knowledge alongside their highly impressive technical expertise.
“We’re focused on providing the sorts of service levels that win repeat business from high quality clients and help to reinforce the company’s reputation for reliability, innovation and delivery.
“We’ve come a long way very quickly and our aim now is to take on more and bigger contracts right around the UK as the business grows, something for which the Bowburn laboratory is the ideal base.
“The NEL team had a refreshing approach to the investment process and clearly understood what we are aiming to achieve, which made what they offered the best option for our needs.”
David Thomas, investment director at NEL Fund Managers, adds: “The ETA management team has an excellent industry track record and a clear strategy for how it is going to grow the business, which combined to make an attractive investment opportunity for us.”
David Wilson, corporate finance director at Clive Owen LLP, says: “It’s been a pleasure to advise ETA throughout the investment process.
“This significant investment and Ken’s reputation and knowledge within the sector has ensured that there is a quality infrastructure in place which has already allowed ETA to deliver some high profile contracts and attract some highly credible experienced individuals to form a dynamic and ambitious management team.
“As a firm, we are looking forward to following the progress of ETA as the management team look to deliver their exciting plans for growth.”
The North East Growth Capital Fund has been designed to create around 790 jobs in more than 70 regional firms over the life of the programme and offers unsecured investments of up to £500,000 to established businesses looking to realise their growth potential.
The overarching £120m North East Fund will provide financial support for more than 600 businesses across Tyne & Wear, Durham and Northumberland, creating around 3,500 jobs and delivering a legacy of up to £80m for further investment into the region.
For more information about NEL’s investment criteria, visit www.nel.co.uk or contact the investment team on 0345 369 7007.