A £1m investment into a new glass toughening plant is set to help a Norwich manufacturer target £3m in sales for the first time in its 44-year history.

Seaglaze, which produces specialist windows, door and hatches for the marine industry, decided to ‘reshore’ production after experiencing delays and shortages caused by international suppliers.

Backed by strategic and financial support from GROW:OffshoreWind and the Manufacturing Advisory Service (MAS), the company has just started initial production, creating six new jobs immediately with more to follow.

The new facility is also home to one of the UK’s most advanced ceramic printers, giving the firm the ability to digitally print into glass and opening up untapped markets in the process.

“We always wanted to have our own glass toughening plant, but it was always more of a longer-term vision,” explained Alastair Clayton, Managing Director.

“However, the glass we need is very specialised and we found ourselves running out, as suppliers were struggling to keep up with demands from the construction and architectural sectors that are beginning to pick up again.”

He continued: “This meant that we were in danger of falling behind on production, so made the decision to take hold of our destiny and look at ways of creating our own facility here in Norfolk.

“We’d been working with MAS for a number of years on business mentoring and lean production techniques, always finding it a great sounding board. The organisation quickly understood what we were trying to achieve and signposted us to the GROW:OffshoreWind service.”

Specialist Advisor Mark Godfrey visited Seaglaze to understand its plans and within a matter of weeks had secured a 20% capital grant towards the cost of its toughening plant and the advanced ceramic printer.

This important piece of equipment enables it to print words, colours and images seamlessly into the glass, ideal for both marine work and for a potential move into the type of architectural glass increasingly used in new buildings.

A new division – Specialist Toughened Glass – has also been formed and is expected to help the company grow turnover from £2m to £3m over the next two years. The workforce will also be increased by 20% to 50 staff.

Seaglaze specialises in the design and manufacture of repeat boat windows, doors and hatch sets to the boat building industry.

With the glass plant now open, Seaglaze can offer a 48-hour repair service for high-end glass, a service that usually takes between two to six weeks.