Welsh marine supplier boosts revenue by $5m after US expansion

Fairline Targa 45 GT Powys-based Makefast Group designs and manufactures systems including retractable sunroofs.

A Welsh marine equipment manufacturer has increased export revenue by $5m after opening a dedicated international base in the US.

Powys-based Makefast Group designs and manufactures equipment for the marine and safety industries, as well as systems for superyachts and luxury boats, including retractable sunroofs, awning units, and bathing platforms.

Following growing demand for its products in the USA, the company opened its first American headquarters in Maryland in December 2022, and has since secured over $5m in revenue from US deals alone since opening 12 months ago.

The company says it aims to open additional office in its second-largest market, the EU, to replicate the success of its US base and increase its international sales.

Exports currently account for two-thirds of Makefast’s trade—equating to £1.2m of year-on-year growth— with the company exporting to over 30 countries from its factory in mid-Wales, including Italy, France, Brazil, Taiwan, and the USA.

“Exporting is a fundamental part of our business and has played a key role in our growth over the years,” says Chris Brown, CEO at Makefast. “The global market for luxury yachts and boats is huge and continues to grow, as in the case of the USA, offering plenty of opportunities for us.

“Establishing a presence there has helped us to connect with new and existing customers, enabling us to keep up with the growing order books of American boat builders. Sales last calendar year in the region reached $5m, and we are forecasting for this year $6.25m.”

Chris Brown, CEO at Makefast UK
Chris Brown, CEO at Makefast UK.

Founded in 1974 by husband-and-wife duo, Bill and Brenda Brown, the company was originally focused on producing safety hardware for the marine industry, supplying some of the largest life jacket manufacturers in the UK including the Royal National Lifeboat Institution. Soon after, it began expanding its product range to produce higher value items and explored overseas markets as a means to grow the business.

While exports of the hardware products still exist, the company’s main export revenue is generated from marine systems sold into two of Makefast’s largest key markets – the USA, and Italy, a leading manufacturer of luxury yachts in Europe.

Makefast says its export success has been helped by support it has received from the Welsh Government, including assistance moving to its new facility in Powys, and funding to invest in equipment and new projects.

“We’ve been working with the Welsh government for over 18 years now, and its export support has accelerated our international growth,” adds Brown.

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This article was written and/or edited by the UK-based MIN team.

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