IT is a truth universally acknowledged that recessions usually spell bad news for businesses.
But a firm in Waterlooville bucked the trend by not only doubling its turnover, but growing so quickly it needed to find new premises.
Amba Dockside Technology is a manufacturing business which makes components for the large straddle carriers that lift containers on and off ships in port.
Managing director Alan Parnum, who began the business in 1989, said as ports looked to save money by refurbishing their carriers, rather than investing in new ones, his business took off.
He said: ‘About four years ago money got tight, and as the recession hit, the world started to recede a bit and we thought it would put us in a very bad way.
‘But the ports decided instead to refurbish so we doubled our turnover.’
Amba is named after Alan, his wife Barbara, and his two sons Mark and Andrew who all work at the factory.
The company is a world leader in the repair and refurbishment of the straddle carriers and also provides just about any part from engines to suspension parts, brakes, and lifting gear. It can supply manufacturer’s parts or make replacements in its own workshops.
It supplies docks all over the world and 60 per cent of its work is export based. At one point the company was providing 0.1 per cent of the total UK exports to Jamaica.
The company employs 12 people and exports to Australia, New Zealand, Russia, Malaysia, Bangladesh, South Africa, Lithuania, Germany, Sweden, Italy, France, Belgium, Denmark, Ireland, Barbados, St Lucia, Jamaica and the USA.
Despite the boost to the order book, the company needed an injection of capital to help the business move from one side of the Aston Road industrial estate to the other.
So Alan turned to the Waterlooville branch of Barclays for help and his business manager there Mike Kendrick.
Alan said: ‘We are 95 per cent in the black, but sometimes there is a gap in the money coming in.
‘Barclays are aware of that, and aware that our customers are good for it, and so are flexible and respond to our needs.’
Mike added: ‘Our relationship is based on mutual respect, in that Alan tells me what he wants and I try and get as close to that as I can.
‘Generally speaking his success is my success.
‘A lot of people at the moment like to bash the banks, but I just think why wouldn’t I help a business if it was the right thing to do?
‘If they win, I win.
‘If banks don’t lend then they’re not in the business of banking.’