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From Normandy landings to Woolwich – our customer’s role in history

Powering business success by propelling boats around the world
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Powering business success by propelling boats around the world
Siobhan Stirling - Sharp Minds Communications by Siobhan Stirling - Sharp Minds Communications
Owner/Director - Sharp Minds Communications Ltd

Their technology helped the Allied forces in the Normandy landings, and now it’s powering the two new ferries on the Woolwich ferry crossing.  Hydromaster Propulsion’s products propel boats around the world, but they’re honed at their base in Capital Space’s Laurence Industrial Estate in Southend. 

Hydromaster is a company which manufactures 360-degree steerable thrusters. The technology, first invented in the 1930s, proved invaluable to allied forces for the Normandy landings, being a prominent feature of the so-called Rhino Ferries. This original design is still employed to this day on many ferries, barges and pontoons due to its resilient and robust design. “We’re the sole UK manufacturer of Hydromaster 360-degree steerable propulsion systems, propelling a vast variety of craft that includes tugs, ferries, floating cranes, coastal vessels, river barges and specialist military craft,” explained Mandy Pavitt, Project Manager at Hydromaster.

Business accommodation with international links and space to adapt

A buy-out by a Dutch company enabled Hydromaster to scale down its UK operations, with production now being shared with the Netherlands.  The company was therefore looking for flexible business accommodation that could match its logistical needs: “Being close to Southend airport, Capital Space’s Laurence Industrial Estate provides an excellent location logistically. Capital Space’s monthly leasing options provided us with the flexibility to downsize with possibilities to increase our capacity, should this be required in the future.

“We also like the security of having the caretaker on site and a secured gate and the rents and rates are fair, while the location meant we could offer our staff reasonable travel times.” Keeping the staff happy is an important consideration, and one which has enabled Hydromaster to enjoy great loyalty from its employees: “We have staff that will have been with Hydromaster this year for 30 years; this is a great accolade and will be celebrated!”

Visions for the future and measures of success

Woolwich ferries powered by Hydromaster
Woolwich ferries powered by Hydromaster

Hydromaster put their success over the last 60 years down to a strong product and family values: “One of the things that’s made us successful is our great product, but also we’re ever evolving to include new technologies while still accommodating our customers; we have a ‘no order is too big or too small’ attitude, so even if our customers require more simple solutions, we will provide it for them. Hydromaster has always been moderately small in comparison with our competitors, with a family mentality. This has always served us well and enabled us to grow gradually and steer us to where we are now!  We recently had the honour of supplying the thrusters which will propel the brand-new Woolwich Ferries, which we’re really excited about.”

Looking ahead, the company wants to build on its existing success to grow their UK base once more: “Our worldwide reputation and years in the business speak volumes and if we maintain that then that’s a success,” reflects Mandy. “Our intentions for the future are to increase production for the UK and employ more staff with the possibility of acquiring more space on the Laurence Industrial Estate in Southend.”

Working with robust technology with a global network of agents, Hydromaster Propulsion have maintained a strong business model for over 60 years.

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