L-R: Cllr Harry Trueman, Sunderland City Council and Chris Elliott, managing director of Viztek.
Sunderland-based paving company Viztek has opened a manufacturing base at its North East BIC premises. The expansion has allowed the company to double its revenue and employee numbers in the last year.
The company supplies and installs a range of surface mounted tactile paving systems, which are used on footpaths, stairs and train station platforms to help visually impaired pedestrians to travel more easily.
Viztek’s biggest customer is Network Rail, plus many of the UK’s train operating companies, and it also works with highways departments of local authorities around the UK.
This latest development now means that the Sunderland based company is the only company in the UK that manufactures, supplies and installs this niche product, putting Sunderland firmly on the map in this sector.
Sunderland City Council deputy leader, councillor Harry Trueman, said: “Viztek is an enterprising, innovative company that has grown significantly and has an ambitious plan for future expansion.
“We’re delighted the company is now manufacturing its products in Sunderland, creating more jobs for the city. We will continue to work alongside Viztek to support it as it goes forward.”
After setting up the business in 2013, managing director Chris Elliott saw manufacturing as a necessary step forward. The paving tiles were formerly manufactured in Hull, and Chris could see improvements that could be made by manufacturing in-house which would set Viztek apart from the competition.
He said: “We have incorporated a number of unique innovations to our tiles that no one else is doing. Anything that can improve safety is hugely important. We are very hands-on designing our own ranges of tiles, and it made commercial and logistic sense to produce the tiles in Sunderland too.”
Viztek’s next aim is to produce and sell its own adhesive for the tiles, which will open up wider markets to the company in the future.
Around 60% of Viztek’s work is rail-based and 40% is with the highways departments of local councils – an area which is already growing significantly. It has supplied and installed its Network Rail-approved innovative tactile paving at many railway stations across the south of the UK, including stations in London and on the Wessex, Sussex and Anglia routes.
It now employs five people and will be growing further in the coming months, which may result in a move to new premises in Sunderland to allow for future expansion.
Chris Elliott worked with Sunderland City Council and the North East BIC from the outset. He particularly values the advice and support from the City Council’s business investment team.
He said: “Two members of the council’s business investment team sit down with us every few months and their advice and positive approach have been a huge support to us as we’ve grown.”