Loddon firm’s drives for independence pays off with E.on deal

Mussett Engineering. Picture: Nick Butcher

Mussett Engineering. Picture: Nick Butcher - Credit: Archant � 2010

A decision to begin designing its own products could pay off for a Loddon engineering firm after it agreed a partnership with Big Six energy supplier E.on.

Mussett Engineering has designed a safety valve for the company for community heating schemes, something the government is keen on, to prevent damage to homes if pipes spring a leak.

Mark Chapman, chief executive of Mussett, said the deal had secured the future of the near 100-strong workforce and would lead to expansion and investment – with the group looking to fill another 50 roles.

He said: 'We are expecting to go from zero to 300,000 valves in the UK market over the next two or three years. Being partners with E.on means we have got a customer and it protects us because we are a small company. They are a big blue-chip company and it has led to other opportunities.'

The valve, which costs between £100 and £200, is expected to be a key component in community heating schemes, in which hot water is pumped directly into houses from a central supply. It detects any drop in pressure - a sign of a leak - and cuts off the supply, minimising flood damage.

The heating solution is among the government's options as it seeks to decarbonise domestic heating, and Mr Chapman said there was a potential UK market of eight million homes, with the valve design being scalable.

The deal shows a change of tack for Mussett, which was traditionally more focused on subcontracting rather than producing products and developing intellectual property. Mr Chapman said he wanted to form more partnerships and create products – moving the business away from generating around 80% of its turnover through subcontracting.

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Mussett was founded by Gordon Mussett, who still leads the firm as managing director, and it has made parts for products ranging from the Boeing 787 Dreamliner to F1 engines and Parker pens.

Mr Mussett said: 'We are able to design and build bespoke items which would take bigger companies 18 months in a couple of weeks because of the experience we have here.'

Mr Mussett said the business, which has aerospace and composite materials divisions, had a turnover of around £7m but he expected that to double in the next two to three years.

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