Lisburn firm secures new business in US and Asia

Chris Monroe from Smiley Monroe with Alison Gowdy of Invest NI.
Chris Monroe from Smiley Monroe with Alison Gowdy of Invest NI.

Lisburn-based manufacturing firm Smiley Monroe has secured significant new business in the USA and Asia, following Invest NI support to exhibit at a major international trade show.

The two contracts secured by the family-run business following ConExpo 2017 are estimated to be worth around £265,000.

Chris Monroe, Smiley Monroe’s Global Sales Director, commented: “ConExpo 2017 gave us a platform to meet potential customers from across North America to showcase our products for future business. With Invest NI support this was our first year exhibiting independently at ConExpo with a custom-built, outdoor booth. Virtual Reality proved to be a fantastic way to educate customers about our diverse range of products and hopefully left a lasting memory of the Smiley Monroe booth.

“We’ve invested quite a bit of time in developing our knowledge of the market and since the last show in 2014, our export sales have increased by 27 per cent and we’re keen to build upon this success. This new business is a direct result of our marketing efforts in North America and is a very encouraging signal as we prepare to expand our presence there.”

Alison Gowdy, Invest NI’s Director of Trade, added: “Innovation and R&D are at the core of Smiley Monroe’s DNA as a company. Visitors to the stand at ConExpo learned more about its diverse product range by slipping on a Virtual Reality headset and enjoying an immersive, four minute product experience. This innovative way of selling its products helped it to win this new business and the company is now rolling out the experience at future exhibitions.

“Through fostering a partnership approach with the company including support to create 31 new jobs in 2014, Smiley Monroe has been able to scale quickly and invest in growth in international markets. These new contracts now put the company in a stronger position to secure future export business in these markets and I hope that its success can inspire other Northern Ireland companies to consider exporting to grow globally.”

Smiley Monroe, which was founded in 1979, operates from premises in Knockmore Hill Industrial Park and Lissue Industrial Estate. It employs around 140 people.

The firm’s core manufactured products are hot spliced ‘Endless Conveyor Belts’ and custom rubber parts, locally produced and exported to over 40 countries for use in equipment sectors as diverse as mobile crushing, screening, recycling and washing, environmental, bulk material handling and road construction.

Upon returning from ConExpo, the company reported record sales figures for the first quarter of 2017 – the best in its history - and is on track for a record sales year.