More than a hundred new jobs have been created at a factory as part of a major expansion.
Global battery manufacturer GS Yuasa announced it’s creating 105 new jobs and safeguarding a further 360 at its factory in Ebbw Vale.
The investment by the Japanese firm is being supported with £2.5m funding from Welsh Government, with workers hoping it can provide a boost for the local economy.
The factory, which has been based on Rassau Industrial estate since 1981, celebrates its fortieth year in the Blaenau Gwent town this year – a place once known as a centre of industry in Wales.
GS Yuasa is one of the world’s leading global manufacturers of valve regulated lead acid (VRLA) and lithium-ion batteries, that are used in a wide range of vehicle and industrial batteries, and have applications in everything from telecom and security to cars and caravans.
Shaun Gardener of Blaina is the managing director at the site after building his way up the business since he started on the shop floor in 1988. He said he was over the moon to hear of the expansion in the factory due to the significant investment from the Welsh Government and GS Yuasa and can’t wait to see what the future holds for them.
“This is absolutely brilliant news for everyone at the factory and I was just delighted to hear it,” Shaun said.
“The investment will allow us to really capture the growing market, increase our capacity by 25%, and increase our headcount by 100 people as well.
“As a local of Blaenau Gwent, I’m evidence of the fantastic opportunities on offer here, as the management teams are all promoted from within and we like to provide the chance for our work-force to develop themselves.
“I started on the shop floor here back in 1988 and now I’m the managing director after working my way up. I’ve had the pleasure of working with some amazing people in all the different departments in that time, and even though there has been some challenging periods there have been some very good ones as well. Thankfully right now is a very exciting time for all of us because of this, and we can’t wait to see what the next few years has in store.”
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Jonathan Sandbruck, 48, travels to the Ebbw Vale site from Blackwood each day where he is a senior manufacturing engineer.
After working for the business for a little over two years he said it is a relief to know that not only is his job secure, but that more local people will be taken on in the coming months to man a new assembly line that will produce lithium-ion battery modules.
He said: “I’m really looking forward to the future here now, and seeing what we can do with the new staff on a new product line is very exciting.
“It’s great to see that there’s onward investment in a company that’s been here for 40 years and I think it can do great things for both the company and the community.
“In these uncertain times when we’re still in the pandemic and so many companies have been struggling with people losing their jobs it’s definitely a relief to hear we’ll be taking more people on. It’s incredibly positive news and overall is a great chance for more people in Ebbw Vale and Blaenau Gwent to come on board as well.”
Peter Stevenson is the senior technical co-ordinator responsible for developing new battery technologies at the factory, and says it is very reassuring to be given this vote of confidence by both his employers and the Welsh Government at this time.
“It’s very reassuring for us to have this investment,” he said, “And even though we are in uncertain times there is a lot of opportunities for growth in the industry that we can catch now. It’s nice to see we will be doing it here in this part of Wales as opposed to somewhere else in the country and it’s a big vote of confidence in us as a team.
“It’s certainly going to be a boost for the economy here as well, as we work to source the metal and plastic components that surround the batteries locally. We also develop the uses of the batteries in to renewable energies, and work with a lot of companies in the area who are taking those technologies forward, so it’s not just our supply chain but our customer chain that will feel the positive effects as well.”
Minister for the economy Vaughn Gething was also in attendance at the factory and said that creating 100 jobs in Blaenau Gwent and safeguarding more than 360 more was an important investment to make.
He said: “I was delighted to be here in Ebbw Vale today to see what the staff Yuasa are doing with this investment.
“We knew that investing in this company would secure 360 already existing jobs and help to create a 100 more, and we want to work together with companies like Yuasa to make sure we can invest in the future.
“It’s great to be here with a project where development and innovation is taking place in Wales, and I think it should mean a lot to the local community to show that the government is working alongside businesses to make sure there’s a clear future.
“Lots of the work force live in communities near here, and local people expect to get those jobs. It’s a real signal of confidence in communities like this one, that this sort of company is prepared to invest in their future along with the Welsh Government. This is good news today for Blaenau Gwent and beyond.”