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Cherrypicking Snorkel’s success in Sunderland

Washington-based Snorkel Europe Limited has almost doubled employee numbers in the last two years and increased sales by 79 per cent since 2015.

The exceptional growth owes much to thriving global exports. The Sunderland plant of the worldwide Snorkel business produces the largest proportion of Snorkel aerial work platforms for markets outside of North America. 

In partnership with Hyperdrive Innovation, the Sunderland plant is also leading the design and development of lithium-ion battery solutions for diesel-powered models.

Snorkel is a leading global manufacturer of aerial work platforms, more commonly known as ‘cherrypickers’. It is introducing new models this year to the existing 28 types of lifts it produces at Birtley Road, Washington.

Sunderland City Council has been advising and supporting Snorkel for many years, as it has grown. There are now 249 employees including four apprentices at the Sunderland plant.

John Gill, Snorkel’s chief manufacturing officer, said: “Snorkel’s strong performance at the Washington plant reflects our drive to grow, and the excellence of our workforce.

“The continuing support of Sunderland City Council’s business investment team is very important to us. We are proud that the majority of our employees are local people, and our commitment to training and upskilling of all our workforce and our apprenticeships programme, means that our growth is positive news for the region as well as for Snorkel.”

Snorkel has boosted its capital expenditure to more than £650,000 in the past two years, improving the plant to benefit employees and to boost lean manufacturing processes.

The company has recently invested in a new, more efficient blast room facility for preparing steel fabrications for powder coat paint, a new compressor, and energy-saving moves including new LED ceiling lights to improve Lux levels and reduce energy usage and cost. 

In the past three years, Snorkel has also invested heavily in employee development, including its highly successful apprenticeship scheme. More than 50% of the workforce at Snorkel’s plant in Washington are from the Sunderland and South Tyneside region.

Cllr Michael Mordey, Deputy Leader of Sunderland City Council, said: “Snorkel’s continued investment in the region is reaping impressive results. It’s great to see Snorkel and Hyperdrive Innovation working together to create innovative new products – two thriving Sunderland-based businesses leading the way in their fields and creating highly skilled jobs.

“Snorkel is a responsible, sustainable and efficient manufacturer – which benefits employees, customers, our local community, and the wider environment. We wish it well as it continues to grow.”

Founded in the USA in 1959, Snorkel is ‘celebrating 60 years of innovation’ this year.  The company is majority owned by Xtreme Manufacturing LLC and is headquartered in Henderson, Nevada, USA. The global business’s turnover was US$200.5M in 2018.