BLACKBURN company Northern Industrial saw its turnover ‘explode’ after targeting global businesses on the internet.

The Thwaites Close firm exports 40 per cent of its £2million plus sales and was celebrating after winning the export award.

The company was founded in the late 1970s by managing director John Lenehan, and supplies industrial automation repairs to local manufacturing firms.

It discovered a growing need for out-of-date automation required by small companies with old machines in every corner of the globe.

After being presented with his trophy, Mr Lenehan said: “It’s just amazing. I can’t believe it. I started about 1978 in a van, working from my house and look at it now. I live at Tockholes but I didn’t live there then of course.

”Every single machine in the world now has electronics, and we repair the electronics, but companies ask us if we will supply, so what we do is scour the world for industrial components and we refurbish and resell them.

“Up to now, we have exported to 86 different countries all over the world. We’ve even exported to China.”

Sales director David Lenehan said: “We have grown in the last five years by 291 per cent since we really started the internet.

“We expect our export sales to one day outgrow our domestic sales. We think by next year it will be at 50 per cent.”

The net will be widened when the company takes on two bilingual sales staff to add to those linguists already at the company, and plans are in place to make the company’s website available in French, German and Spanish in a bid to further move into foreign markets.

David said: “We have one girl that speaks French and German, and another lad speaks Serbian and Bulgarian, so we are looking to get somebody that can speak Russian.”

In five years, turnover has trebled and profits have gone up even more as the company invested in a growing range of obsolete electronic automation parts no longer supported by the original manufacturer, a new website, and more staff.

David added: “We don’t plan to open overseas at the moment, but if I can persuade my dad to open up in the Bahamas then I’ll be there.”