27-Nov-2012 Source: Enterprising Barnsley
A dry suit created in Barnsley is helping to protect thousands of emergency workers facing dangerous waters across the UK.
Fire crews and coastguards are among those kitted out with the suit made by Hoyland-based AZDRY.
Now the company is receiving backing from business support organisation Enterprising Barnsley to take the product to markets overseas. It has already won an order to make suits for helicopter rescue service workers in Japan.
The AZDRY suit has a sealing system which keeps wearers completely dry and protects them from the cold as well as pollutants and diseases in water.
But what really sets the product apart is a front-entry zip and a ‘telescopic torso’, which means it can be adjusted to fit wearers who differ in height by up to six inches.
Director Graham Wiggins created the suit three years ago to improve AZDRY’s range of products for workers as well as sport and professional divers.
AZDRY suits have been supplied to almost a third of the UK’s fire services, from Scotland down to Cornwall, plus HM Coastguard, the UK Border Agency and Environment Agency.
Graham said: “The new suit has been designed to be light and offer total freedom of movement. This helps to make the task at hand, which can go on for many hours, less tiring. But what also encourages organisations to choose us is that our product will fit a range of workers in a single organisation because it’s adjustable. This helps them to keep their costs down.
“In addition to this, it comes in three versions and we can also meet bespoke requirements if requested.
“Emergency and rescue teams have worn our suit in all manner of high-profile rescues, such as major flooding incidents. We’re currently putting together the Japanese order and there may be more orders to follow.”
AZDRY, based at Platts Common Industrial Estate, is receiving help from Enterprising Barnsley to improve its marketing to attract more business from beyond the UK.
Graham said: “Through Enterprising Barnsley we have been working to improve our branding and marketing approach, which will give our company a fresh new look and promote our products in three different languages. The languages will most likely be German and Russian in addition to English as we’re targeting parts of the world that have colder waters.”
Graham has 25 years’ experience designing and manufacturing dry suits. Tens of thousands of suits with the sealing system he developed have been sold to divers over the years.
He added: “We are proud to have our manufacturing base in Barnsley and aim to significantly increase the workforce over the coming months. We source high-grade components made in the UK with our focus always on design, functionality and quality.”
Enterprising Barnsley aims to help Barnsley-based businesses develop and expand – generating economic growth and creating new jobs.
The programme is supported financially by the European Union. The project has attracted £2,259,511 investment into Barnsley from the European Regional Development Fund as part of Europe’s support for the region’s economic development, through the Yorkshire and Humber ERDF Programme.