Expanding footprint

Leading the way in enabling customers to access inaccessible areas for over 40 years, Southampton based Griffon Hoverwork has specialist experience in developing and manufacturing hovercrafts for customers operating in diverse and challenging locations across the globe. From the tropical jungles of South America, to the harsh seas of the Baltic and Arctic, Griffon Hoverwork offers access to areas where conventional craft can’t reach.

With four decades of experience in the development of craft that support light, medium and heavy payload requirements, Griffon Hoverwork has created a successful business that delivers a complete support solution. Indeed, once the company has assisted customers in assessing the considered routes and applications that require such a craft, wholly competent and knowledgeable personnel provide professional advice on the most appropriate design and type for each contract. Moreover, the company provides comprehensive updates throughout the design and build phases as well as incountry commissioning, pilot and engineer training. Proud of the services it offers, Griffon Hoverwork’s support contracts are professionally managed and audited against the principles of the high speed craft code.

Previously featured in Shipping & Marine magazine in April 2014, the company has remained in demand and enjoyed ongoing success; a notable example of this being the completion of its three year, £32 million contract with the Indian Coast Guard, which was marked by a final acceptance ceremony in Panambur, India, on 10th November 2014. Used to prevent terror activities and threats to the Indian coast line, the order of 12 8000 TD hovercraft brings the Indian Coast Guard’s total fleet to 18, all of which will operate over India’s coastline on a multitude of missions, ranging from search and rescue, assisting small boats in distress and surveillance. “We have a very strong market in India and have just delivered the last of our 12 large hovercraft to the Indian Coast Guard and are now in the process of working on a large bid with the Indian Army alongside Goa Shipyard,” says managing director of Griffon Hoverwork, Adrian Went.

Despite its strong order book and a healthy number of prospects, the company is keen to remain one step ahead of a turbulent shipping industry through innovation and strategic alliances. This commitment to the continued enhancement of its portfolio resulted in Griffon Hoverwork teaming up with the Southampton based powerboat specialist Cougar Marine in October 2014. Joining forces to construct ultra-high speed naval and coastguard craft, the partnership will enable Griffon Hoverwork to enter the fast boat market, notes Adrian: “Our partnership with Cougar was driven by the market presence we have across the globe; because our product is unique we have access to coastguards, marine forces, border forces, navies and armies, which means we have a strong network and presence in this market. Although we have a strong order book, the governments in the world are driven by budgets and the boat building business is cyclical by nature; the diversification of our service not only strengthens Griffon Hoverwork financially, but also means we have a more comprehensive fleet to offer our potential customers.”

Adrian continues: “In other news, we are bringing two new products to the market, the first of which is a hovercraft that is to be used for the Hovertravel service between Southsea and the Isle of Wight; for this development we are working closely with our sister company, Hovertravel to ensure the craft is much more efficient in terms of fuel, engines and maintenance as well as boarding. The second of our new products is the 995ED, a small craft that was constructed in a modular fashion thanks to the thought process of Lotus, which uses glue instead of heat for its building process.”

In other areas of the business, Griffon Hoverwork has gained recognition for its commitment to providing opportunities to young people, as Adrian highlights: “In November 2014 we won the UK Apprentice Employer of the Year for Medium Sized Businesses; I am very proud of this because, from my perspective, apprentices benefit us in a multitude of arenas. For example, a few months after hiring an apprentice you have a highly productive member of staff; this makes economic sense when compared to the option of hiring contractors who are expensive and generally less productive.

“Our apprentices that are taken on as employees have all stayed with us, which has resulted in a team of people who we have moulded into optimum members of staff who truly understand what we are aiming for as a business. We have also taken on a large number of women through our apprenticeship programme, which has rebalanced a workforce that is conventionally all male.”

Having strengthened its work force and product portfolio, the innovative firm is looking to retain its foothold in locations such as Peru, India, Korea and Canada while searching for upcoming opportunities in burgeoning oil and gas areas such as Africa and Brazil. “As already mentioned, we have a large bid in India coming up, as well as a few bids in the Far East; however, we are also looking to expand our footprint in a number of areas, particularly Africa. Nigeria is a big focus area for us over the next few years,” concludes Adrian.

Griffon Hoverwork
Global leading commercial hovercraft manufacturer
Joined forces with Cougar Powerboats in 2014
Recognised as a Top 100 apprenticeship employer