Hardide to bring 29 jobs

January 22, 2015

Thursday, January 22, 2015

By DEBBIE HALL - Bulletin Staff Writer

A U.K.-based company is expected to be up and running by the end of the year after selecting Henry County as the location for its first Virginia operation.  

Hardide Coatings Inc., a manufacturer of advanced surface coatings, will invest $7.25 million, and create and sustain 29 new jobs with an average salary of $50,000 within the next three years, state, local and company officials announced Wednesday.

The announcement was formally made by state Secretary of Commerce and Trade Maurice Jones, standing in for Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who has been hospitalized this week. Jones called the company’s decision a “big win for rural Virginia.” 

“What a way to start off 2015,” H.G. Vaughn, chairman of the Henry County Board of Supervisors, told the gathering in the county administration building.

The company signed a 10-year lease on a 26,000-square-foot building in the Bowles Industrial Park to house its U.S. operation, according to Mark Heath, president and CEO of the Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corp. (EDC). 

The new facility will serve existing and new customers in the oil and gas, aerospace, flow control, and advanced engineering markets, officials said. Hardide, they added, is the leading global innovator and provider of advanced tungsten carbide-based coatings that significantly increase the life of critical metal parts operating in abrasive, erosive, corrosive and chemically aggressive environments.

“There is nothing else like this coating,” said Philip Kirkham, CEO of Hardide, in his British accent. “It is truly unique.” 

The company was formed in 2000 after a team of U.K.-led venture capitalists developed and commercialized a process that was invented by scientists in Soviet Russia at Moscow State University and a leading laboratory in the area of advanced materials. In 2003, the company headquarters and U.K. manufacturing facility were established in Bicester, Oxfordshire, which serves customers around the world, including the U.K., Europe, U.S., Canada, the Far East and Australia.

The “unique, patented surface coating technology” is created by a chemical vapor deposition process that “grows atom by atom” on the surface of a component — even those of complex shapes, Kirkham said. When applied, the coating “significantly increases the life of the component,” he said. 

The process is used in a number of applications in industries that include the oil and gas industry, X-ray baggage screening machines, and aerospace, according to Kirkham.

Some of the company’s equipment already is in storage in Martinsville, officials said. 

Other equipment — including two reactors from Austria — will not be delivered until August or September, Kirkham said. “They are key pieces” in the coating process, he added.

Heath said the reactors are “basically vacuum-sealed pressure chambers” that allow for a chemical reaction to take place, and advanced surface coatings to be applied to various components, one atom at a time. 

Kirkham previously worked with Rolls Royce and was instrumental in that company’s decision to locate in Prince George County. It was that familiarity with Virginia, along with several other factors, which prompted the company to locate here, he said.

For instance, he said 20 percent of the company’s customers are in Canada and the U.S. — including Texas, North Dakota and Minnesota. “We know, and they’ve told us, that they will give us more business once we get” situated in the U.S., Kirkham said. 

The incentive package offered by Virginia was another reason, Kirkham said, referring to the terms of two performance agreements approved by the Henry County Board of Supervisors and the Henry County Industrial Development Authority during a joint meeting before the announcement.

The agreements state that in exchange for the company settling in Henry County, it will receive incentives of $170,000 from the Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission, along with a $150,000 grant from the Governor’s Opportunity Fund. 

Hardide also will receive an estimated $92,000 from an Enterprise Zone Job Creation Grant, an estimated $29,000 from the Virginia Jobs Investment Program to support the company’s employee training activities, estimated local Enterprise Zone incentives of $285,593, and a New College Institute Internship Grant of $16,000.

The EDC is partnering with the county to help with some local incentives, including a moving assistance grant of $250,000 to help with the relocation of equipment, a rent subsidy of $6,250 for 32 months (a total of $200,000), and the company will be eligible to receive sales and use tax exemptions on manufacturing equipment. 

Virginia, specifically Henry County, competed for the project against other sites in Houston, Texas, and Oklahoma City, Okla., Heath said.

Hardide owns a facility in Houston, Kirkham said. It was moth-balled during the recession in 2008 after operating there for about three years, he added. 

Kirkham did not recall the number of employees who worked in the Houston facility previously. However, he said 30 people are employed in the company’s facilities in the U.K., and the company has annual revenues of $5 million.

If demand for its coatings increases, Kirkham said, there is potential for expansion in Henry County. 


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