Find a niche market, deliver on time and don't be tempted to diversify - these are the core principles that have helped Tiger Filtration grow.
Since setting up in 2004, the company, which manufactures filter elements for compressed air, gas and vacuum applications, has not only achieved remarkable growth but also been rewarded with the Queen's Award for International Trade.
Filter elements are well-established products. They are used throughout a wide variety of manufacturing and processing operations - from pharmaceuticals to food and beverage processing to the petrochemical industry - where compressed air is seen as a safe and efficient means of power. The filters ensure the compressed air is clean and dry.
"Fulfilling special, one-off, bespoke requirements is a particular strength of ours," explains managing director Bob Thompson. "We can offer a compressed air solution for just about anything a client wants and so we are not restricted to off-the-shelf solutions like many of our competitors. In fact, there is nobody to touch us in terms of technical response and product delivery times."
Not only is the company an export success – products shipping to Australia and the Far East as well as Europe and North America - it has moved or expanded four times, on each occasion receiving help from Sunderland City Council.
"The Business Investment Team has helped us massively," says sales director Gary Ashton. "They've been very good at pointing us in the right direction." From a 900-square-foot incubator unit in Stanfield Business Centre, Tiger are now in Pallion's Rivergreen Industry Centre commanding a 7,000 square foot workspace.
It sounds a smooth journey but success masks a lot of hard work and dogged determination. So, what next? Brazil and Russia are untapped markets, says Gary: "We know there are opportunities out there. It's not a cash-cow market, but an evolving one. Our strategy is to continue entering new markets and creating products which spark a strong market response.”