Ejection seat specialist Martin-Baker enters the Top 100 at 99 by virtue of a solid 23.3% jump in sales in 2009.
"Overall growth and the commencement of a variety of new projects" is how head of business development Andrew Martin describes last year's progress.
Retrofit programmes got under way on the Franco-German Alpha Jet advanced trainer and on Boeing F/A-18 Hornets for several nations.
Twin bosses: John (left) and James Martin. Picture: Martin-Baker
Martin-Baker's biggest and most significant win of 2009 was a £48 million follow-on contract to refit Northrop T-38 Talon
trainers for the US Air Force. Its Mk16 seats are replacing an older Northrop system on 450 T-38s.
Martin-Baker also won a contract worth £23 million ($35.4 million) to provide seats to "multiple customers" for the Beechcraft T-6 trainer, plus Eurofighter Typhoon Tranche 3A and Super Hornet deals worth £12 million each.
A major milestone for the company this year was the completion of the Joint Strike Fighter ejection seat qualification programme. Martin-Baker won a contract for this seat, the Mk16E, in 2003.
It is also delivering thousands of crashworthy troop and gunner seats to Sikorsky for the US Army and international UH-60 helicopters.
The company is looking at developing seats for ground vehicles that will give protection from mine blasts. It has developed prototypes, but producing these commercially will await a clear technical specification from customers.
Martin says the company is expanding its interests into "other safety-related technologies" that he declines to detail, other than saying that "a lot of new products" are under consideration.
Mk16 seats are replacing a Northrop system on 450 T-38s. Picture: Martin-Baker
However, one area he is willing to talk about is a plan to establish a global chain of ejection seat maintenance, repair and overhaul establishments to support the 90-plus nations who use the company's equipment.
The first of these, Marcos Bernasconi Associates (MBA) of Buenos Aires, Argentina, received its certificate of excellence in July.
Just as important as high technical standards and a track record is attitude, says Martin. "It's not just a seat, it's a piece of lifesaving equipment and needs to be treated accordingly." Companies such as MBA have to show their commitment to Martin-Baker's standards by sending personnel to the latter's Denham headquarters for training.
Martin-Baker is led by John and James Martin, twin sons of the company's founder, Sir James Martin.
- Top 100 rank 99
- HQ Denham, UK
- Aero revenues $235m
- Sales growth 23.3%
- Operating margin 22.6%
- ROCE 80.1%
- Employees 800
- CEO James & John Martin (joint)