Beverley company Romica: 'We have transferable skills'

By Hull Daily Mail | Posted: 6 Feb 2017

Bob Turner of Beverley engineering firm Romica talks to Debbie Hall about his plans for the company.

If Bob Turner's ambitions are realised, his specialist marine winch business will extend its reach into new engineering territory this year.

Mr Turner is managing director of Romica Engineering Ltd, a Beverley company that has enjoyed continuing success since launching in 2003 as a dedicated designer and manufacturer of lifting and handling equipment for the marine and offshore industries.

Its expertise there will continue, but Romica is keen to grow its offering into a host of other industry sectors, including civil engineering, construction, energy, rail and transport, and water control.

Mr Turner said: "There are other fabricators in the UK but they don't always have the design capabilities that we do.

"Our pedigree is in marine engineering, but we have the skills that are transferable into other areas.

"I think the important thing about us is, we have the ability to build what you want, but we can also design it as well.

SPECIALIST: Romica is extending its reach from marine to other sectors

"We have the knowledge, and that's what we are selling."

Romica, headquartered in Beck View Road, has its manufacturing base, TIE Services International SRL, in Romania.

TIE, run by Mr Turner's son, Mike, has been the backbone of the company's activity for the past 14 years, with both teams working hand in hand and looking for ways to constantly innovate and improve engineering processes.

Currently, 80 per cent of sales come from exports – Romica has agents in South Korea, Taiwan, India and Spain – and its products are used across the marine, renewables, ports and terminals, oil and gas and oceanographic sectors.

With the arrival of Carl Richmond as business development manager at Romica, Mr Turner hopes that the company can embrace a broader range of customers worldwide.

"We are in the process of changing from the manufacture of bespoke marine survey lifting equipment and trying to see ourselves in another light as engineering partners, working as consultants who can meet very specific requirements," said Mr Turner.

East Hull-born Mr Turner attended Riley Technical High School before starting an apprenticeship with CEGB and gaining a degree in electrical engineering from the University of Huddersfield.

Married with five children – three of whom are also engineers – and eight grandchildren, Mr Turner worked for United Towing in Hull for a number of years before setting up in business on his own as Robol System Projects.

"The name was 60 per cent Rob and 40 per cent Carol, my wife.

"We provided consultancy packages for marine conversions and we worked for J Marr and Sons and other companies at the fish docks, at a time when the trawler fleets were in total turmoil."

In the mid-1980s, Robol joined with Marr's to form Marine Project Developments (MPD).

"That grew as an engineering consultancy, we were supplying a whole range of equipment to the marine survey sector," said Mr Turner.

"At that stage it was the best in Hull for global reach – we worked in the Far East and had operations in Australia and the US.

"The conversion of trawlers for survey work made the operation global.

"The Farnella (one of five former trawlers requisitioned from Hull as minesweepers in the Falklands War) had a lot of equipment on from us.

"It was through this business I took my first trip to Hawaii, where I spent part of Christmas in 1985. It was a fascinating time and really good fun.

"It has been a heck of an experience all told because it has given me a ticket around the world."

Following the demise of MPD, Romica was born and, to meet market needs, the company set up its manufacturing base in Romania, driven by costs, skills available and land upon which to develop the factory.

"My son, Mike, runs the factory. He lives out there – he is married with a couple of kids."

Romica's specialisms have brought it into contact with a number of large clients, including Fugro, a world leader in integrated geotechnical, survey, subsea and geoscience services.

The company also has close associations with a number of oceanographic institutes – one of its more recent projects meant delivering a containerised deep-ocean mooring winch system for the National Oceanography Centre.

With the company looking to diversify, Mr Turner is sure that Romica, which already employs about 70 people, will be seeing more recruitment opportunities.

When he is not working, Mr Turner, who lives in Beverley, where he overlooks the Westwood pasture, enjoys music and likes to dabble in photography.

"I have been around the world three or four times but I never owned a camera up until about four years ago, so it meant I never took any photographs, and I regret that."

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