An established Black Country manufacturer is reaching new markets in Africa and Asia after exporting its products for the first time.

AJT Equipment, of Brockmoor, Brierley Hill, designs and makes tensile machines for testing the strength of chains, wire ropes and slings used in the shipping, oil and gas, lifting gear and construction industries.

The company, which was founded in 1951, is now hoping to treble its #500,000 annual turnover with enquiries estimated at #1 million on its books which are rapidly turning into firm orders – from overseas clients.

In 2004, AJT Equipment joined UK Trade & Investment's Passport initiative – a flagship scheme that gives new exporters the training, planning and ongoing support they need to succeed overseas and completed the scheme last year.

Sales and marketing manager Julie Parry said: "Before we first contacted UK Trade & Investment's international trade team at Black Country Chamber of Commerce in 2003, we weren't involved directly in exporting at all.

"Through the Passport scheme, we attended invaluable seminars on topics such as website development and how to go about dealing with international businesses.

"Our international trade adviser, Terry Wood, has helped us in dealing with international agents, advising us on financial matters and possible pitfalls.

"He also advised us on business etiquette in different markets, and continues to give us advice and support on numerous issues when we need it."

After the company visited Singapore on a UK Trade & Investment market visit in 2004, it appointed an agent there who would also be responsible for Pakistan, Malaysia and Thailand.

The company, which has eight employees, now in addition has an agent and customer in Nigeria.

Ms Parry said: "Typically, our contracts take 18 months to two years to come to fruition, so we are now seeing the results of UK Trade & Investment's support through Passport. "We are currently dealing with enquiries worth about #1 million from overseas customers, many of which are becoming firm orders."

About 35 per cent of current turnover is export business.

Mr Wood said: "This is an example of a company which recognises the value of exporting their products and the growth potential this can bring to their business."