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SST Sensing’s innovative, world-class products are now reaching global markets, with our assistance

Formed in 2002, SST designs and manufactures liquid level sensors, as well as gas, pressure and temperature sensors. It specialises in providing customers with either standard products or bespoke solutions.

Challenges of exporting

A small start-up launched in 2002, SST Sensing made products with global appeal, but awareness among potential customers was low and visiting them across Europe and beyond to promote both the product and the company was expensive and time consuming for the firm’s small team.

There’s no doubt we would not have grown as fast without the help we’ve had from Scottish Enterprise. Their support has been a huge boost.

Keith Wight, Managing Director, SST Sensing Ltd

Despite having the skills internally to design and manufacture a new product for the market, the firm was being restricted by limited financial resources and the risks associated with new product development.

“Financing the cost of development is high,” says SST’s Managing Director Keith Wight, “and we were reluctant to take on more debt and spend years paying it off. When you’re a small company trying to establish yourself then growing organically is initially the best way to go.”

How we helped

Steve Clifford, SST’s Scottish Enterprise Account Manager, put together a plan of action with Keith and introduced two specialists to help the company develop new markets and products.

We also funded a specialist marketing consultant to identify new business opportunities, find new routes to market and organise visits to prospects throughout Europe and Asia.

An SE innovation grant meant that SST could create a new sensing product that began to generate new revenue streams, says Steve:

“For a small company, innovation within the business is always a challenge. You can potentially take on a fair amount of risk when you decide to make a big investment not knowing if you will succeed.

In this case Scottish Enterprise were able to absorb some of that risk once we were satisfied that SST were strategically aware and had researched rival products.”

SST’s prospects are now brighter than ever, says Steve.

“They are an innovative company with a strong customer base and a strong team of engineers. The range of new products they have developed has enabled them to access new customers on a global scale.

“We are now in discussions with the company about plans to introduce another new product to the market which has tremendous potential. If successful, the company are confident it could open doors to blue chip clients on a global scale.”

Exports now represent 90% of sales 

SST has now expanded into Europe, Asia and even India, says Keith. “Thanks to SE and SDI we were able to take the risk and showcase in several countries and we’re now seeing strong growth in these areas. Our sales used to be 80% domestic and they are now about 90% export.”

We’ve had a very good, strong relationship with the company. They've exceeded their own growth forecasts and they could triple sales in the next three years. It’s an exciting company going in an exciting direction.

Steve Clifford, Scottish Enterprise Account Manager

Only 18 months after launching an export drive, the firm has doubled sales to just under £4m. SST’s oxygen sensors are now selling beyond the traditional gas industries into the agriculture, medical, food, transport and marine sectors and huge industrial conglomerates are now purchasing standard products and embarking on large bespoke design projects with SST.

“We were wasting a lot of effort with sales team visits before,” says Keith. “Now customers are coming to us through our new website and our innovative approach to dealing with enquiries, which means relationships build quicker and time to market drops.”

Keith is now thinking longer term about far more ambitious plans to grow through a series of acquisitions. “It’s a very fragmented market full of companies that require one-off technical solutions which existing suppliers won’t provide. We could potentially become a leader in the fluid and gas sectors. I would like to see a £10-15m turnover in the next three years and a flotation on AIM.”

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