Craigavon firm celebrates 35 years

First Minister, Arlene Foster and Hyster Yale Craigavon plant manager, Jim Downey plant a tree to mark the 35th anniversary of the opening of the factory in 1981. INPT16-214.

First Minister, Arlene Foster and Hyster Yale Craigavon plant manager, Jim Downey plant a tree to mark the 35th anniversary of the opening of the factory in 1981. INPT16-214.

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Hyster celebrated 35 years of manufacturing tough forklift trucks at its plant in Craigavon, Northern Ireland by hosting an exclusive event for press, dignitaries, VIPs and key staff.

Guests joining the Hyster team were told the story of the forklift factory in the “new town” of Craigavon, which began with the opening of the site in 1981. It showcased the advances at the factory in the past and also celebrated the contribution of the people that have been part of it over the past 35 years. The interactive event also looked towards a positive future, with the exclusive unveiling of the latest forklift truck to be manufactured at Craigavon for export across the world – the Hyster® XT Series.

The highlight of the celebration was a special ceremony where a tree was planted by Northern Ireland’s First Minister Arlene Foster and current Plant Manager Jim Downey to acknowledge the contribution of all the staff. This tree was planted near the location of an oak tree which has been at the site since before the plant was built and has been respectfully preserved.

“While we have celebrated our past and the success of the plant over the past 35 years, we have an exciting future ahead of us. We have sown the seeds for continued growth and sustainability at Craigavon,” says Jim Downey, Plant Manager.

Alan Little, Vice President Manufacturing & Logistics EMEA for Hyster adds “We are lucky to have such a skilled and motivated workforce that is, and always has been, central to our high quality standards and has enabled us to reach this fantastic milestone.”

Congratulating the company, First Minister Arlene Foster said “Hyster-Yale is a true success story and 35 years of production is certainly something to celebrate.”

“Since 1981, Hyster-Yale has invested and reinvested in Northern Ireland and this has without a doubt resulted in real benefits for our economy. This company is a real example of manufacturing excellence in a world class product. Hyster-Yale has quite rightly earned a first class reputation for expertise and dedication. I commend the entire team at Hyster-Yale for their commitment to continuous improvement and innovation.”

The forklift factory at Craigavon, near Belfast, opened in April 1981 and is by far the largest of the few forklift truck manufacturing plants remaining in the UK today. The plant has been a great success, expanding to over 41,300 m2 and now employing hundreds of people, many of whom have been working at the factory for decades. In fact, 33 of the current staff have been working there since the first year that the plant opened.

2003 saw a significant investment to establish the Northern Ireland plant as a world-class manufacturing centre. Many thousands of trucks are manufactured each year in Craigavon with the vast majority exported to Europe, Russia, Africa and the Middle East. On his visit to the plant in November 2012, Prime Minister David Cameron, emphasised the importance of great manufacturing operations like Craigavon to the UK’s ability to compete and succeed in what he referred to as “the global race”.

The plant at Craigavon has also led the way for sustainability in manufacturing, investing several million pounds in strategies and technologies to protect the environment, saving energy and water, and reducing carbon emissions. Planning is also underway for a new solar panel installation on site to create a renewable energy source for the future.

Over the years, the factory has won multiple awards for its commitment both to quality and to its staff. Additionally, in 2013, Alan Little was recognised for services to Industry in Northern Ireland and was awarded an MBE.

“Our work at Craigavon has helped to set the standard for quality in manufacturing processes at Hyster-Yale’s plants across the globe. We are pleased to be producing the latest Hyster XT truck here and look forward with excitement toward developments and successes we can achieve with our team over the next 35 years,” concludes Alan Little.