A CONCRETE reinforcing firm has secured a £550,000 contract to lay the foundations for a North-East chemical plant.

Allan Oliver Reinforcing, in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, has been awarded a 50-week deal from construction company Sir Robert McAlpine to deliver 1,800 tonnes of reinforcement and foundations to a Teesside factory.

The firm, which employs 17 full-time workers, is also working on a number of other contracts, including a housing project in Stockton and a Morpeth sewerage treatment plant.

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Mr Oliver, who manages Northern League football side Newton Aycliffe, started the company as a sole trader 23 years ago.

He said the industry was on the upturn after the difficult recession.

He said: “I always felt that when the industry started to recover the work would come back again, and that’s been the case.

“We had to make sure we came out at the other side.

“The only trouble now is firms ring you and want you straight away.

“I sometimes think they believe we've men hiding under the stairs ready to come out when it’s busy.

“It started to pick up in the last six months, to a point now where to number of enquiries alone has gone up to two or three a week.

“The construction industry is the first one to be hit in any depression, but on the other side, it’s the first one to pick up.”