A NORTH-EAST engineering firm wants new workers after reaping the rewards of a £160,000 investment.

ALM Engineering Solutions, in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, bought a new lathe to boost its presence in the oil and gas sector.

Bosses say the move has already yielded two major contracts with Aberdeen oil companies.

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The firm supplied steel billets and valve bodies in two deals worth a combined £60,000, and made steel components in another contract, which allow oil to flow through systems.

The company employs 35 workers, with an annual turnover of £3m, and wants turners to help it handle an increasing order book.

Tony Thompson, ALM managing director, said: “We have invested heavily in machinery, which is enabling us to explore markets and take on work.

“The oil and gas sector is obviously a growth market and we’re tapping into that as well as working on the run-of-the-mill stuff.

“But it’s an exciting time and we are picking up new orders almost every week, with the prospect of more in the pipeline.

“That means we’re looking to take on more skilled staff and are looking for two turners to help us cope with the workload.”

Mr Thompson, who started the business in 1994, says he wants the firm's turnover to hit £5m next year, but warned of a skills shortage.

He added: “Recruiting skilled people has been a problem for a while and we’re still faced with it, as is everyone else.

“These contracts demonstrate our ability to take on this kind of work, but we need more staff to accommodate that workload.”