Visiting Blizzard Protection System’s plant at Bethesda today (Oct. 26th) Deputy First Minister Ieuan Wyn Jones said the young company’s progress demonstrated how innovation is the key to business success.
Blizzard was formed in 2000 to commercialise an invention by Derek Ryden, the company’s founder and Managing Director. The product, now known as Reflexcell, is a patented, super lightweight material made of a triple layer of foil which expands to form insulating air pockets as well as reflecting heat. The material provides unprecedented thermal protection in the most demanding conditions – and a full sized sleeping bag made of Reflexcell folds into a package roughly the size of a video cassette.
Seven years on, Blizzard is a market leader in outdoor thermal survival products - and Reflexcell blankets, sleeping bags and jackets are sold around the world to outdoor pursuits enthusiasts, emergency services and to the military.
Some 95 per cent of the company’s current sales go to export markets – especially to the US, where Blizzard has an associated company based in Houston, Texas.
Following exhaustive testing by the US Army Institute of Surgical Research, the Blizzard survival blanket was adopted as standard equipment by the US
Army and is now issued to every medic with US Special Forces Units to prevent casualties from suffering hypothermia in trauma cases.
So far, Blizzard has sold nearly 100,000 survival blankets to the US Military.
With the aid of an Assembly Investment Grant, the company has just moved from a smaller to a much larger factory unit at Bethesda’s Coed y Park estate and has installed new thermal insulation heat sealing machinery which will enable Blizzard to double its production capacity.
Ieuan Wyn Jones, the Assembly Government’s cabinet minister with responsibility for the Economy, said:
Innovative, ambitious small firms such as Blizzard are the bedrock of local economies across much of Wales - and the crucial factor in the development of local prosperity.
Blizzard’s remarkable progress exemplifies how innovation and quality can enable ambitious small firms in rural areas of Wales to compete and succeed in international markets.
As Minister for the Economy, I intend to make certain that the Assembly Government delivers maximum support for the growth of enterprises such as this one.
October 26, 2007