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Rapid celebrate their golden anniversary

Mark Lappin and John Pickering

Northern Ireland-based machinery manufacturer reflects on 50 years of mixing technology expertise 

RAPID International Ltd, manufacturers of machinery for the concrete, construction and environmental industries, celebrated their 50th anniversary on 1 September 2019.

Established in Co. Armagh in 1969, at a period in Northern Ireland’s history when political and sectarian violence were commonplace, Rapid’s founders, Robert (Bertie) Pickering and Jim Lappin aimed to bring about advancement, progress and hope for the local economy.

Founded on 1 September 1969, Craigavon Engineering originally manufactured agricultural equipment in a 7m x 4m domestic garage. As demand grew, in the 1970s the business relocated to a larger custom-built facility, diversifying into the manufacture of ready-mixed and precast concrete plant.

Today, each machine is produced in Rapid’s 50,000 sq ft purpose-built factory, which recently underwent an extension to include a new £1 million, state of-the-art Hodge Clemco shot-blasting facility and Dalby paint booth.

In 1982, Rapid launched the first in a range of concrete mixers, the Rapid Pan. The first of these was sold to J. Graham and Sons Ltd, in Co. Down, and is still operational today, 37 years later.

The product range expanded again in 1992 to include the Rapid Reclaimer, for the recovery of unused concrete. This groundbreaking invention was met with industry acclaim and featured on BBC’s Tomorrow’s World.

Rapidmix, the company’s flagship product, was launched in 1997 and later adapted, in 2012, to include full weighing capabilities. Rapidmix is a totally mobile and self-contained, high-volume continuous mixing plant suitable for a wide range of concrete, construction, civils and environmental applications.

New product development remains a strong focus for Rapid and the product range has expanded considerably since 2009 when the Rapidbatch, the company’s first fully mobile concrete batching plant, was launched along with the Rapid twin-shaft concrete mixer.

Transbatch, a compact, single-load version of the Rapidbatch plant, was launched in 2011, followed by the Trakmix track-mounted mobile continuous mixing plant in 2015.

In recent years, Rapid say they have witnessed a shift in demand towards specialist applications such as contaminated-land treatment, mine backfill, tunnel finings, marine dredging, and bentonite, among many others.

Following the success of the Reclaimer launch in 1992, the company set its sights on penetrating international markets and, in preparation for this, changed its name to Rapid International Ltd.

Rapid officially commenced exporting in 1995, initially to the US and then, in 1996, to the Middle East. Today, Rapid have a presence in more than 20 countries through a wide-reaching international dealer network.

In 2007, Bertie Pickering, co-founder and managing director, passed away after a short illness, followed by his fellow co-founder, Jim Lappin, in 2018.

Mark Lappin (left of photo), son of Jim, was subsequently appointed managing director and continues to lead the company to this day. Commenting on the milestone, he said: ‘As we reflect on the last 50 years, it’s clear we owe our continued success to the entrepreneurial spirit of our founding partners, which the company is still driven by today.

‘We continue to push boundaries, seek out new product innovations and enter new global markets on an annual basis. As was the case in 1969, total quality, technological advancement and customer focus still remain at the core of Rapid.’

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