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Gwalia Healthcare overcomes challenges to expand its business

A Treforest business which used its manufacturing expertise to supply key products like hand sanitiser in response to the pandemic, just weeks after being flooded by Storm Dennis, continues to go from strength to strength.

Gwalia Healthcare, based at Treforest Industrial Estate, specialises in manufacturing medical devices and pharmaceutical packaging. Through positive support and engagement, the company has a close working relationship with the Enterprise team, part of the Council’s Prosperity & Development Service.

Gwalia recently hosted Vaughan Gething MS, the Welsh Government Minister for Economy, along with the Council Leader and Chief Executive. The Minister visited the company in recognition of its recovery and growth in recent years, taking the opportunity to meet staff and tour their factory.

Like many other businesses, 2020 was an incredibly challenging time for Gwalia. Storm Dennis hit in February of that year, followed by the pandemic starting in March. The company’s manufacturing operation was brought to a standstill overnight due to severe flooding, and it was still recovering by the time the first emergency lockdown was declared around six weeks later.

However, Gwalia was able to start producing hand sanitiser at that time, using existing resources to make the bottles and sourcing the gel and alcohol from within a 10-mile radius. It produced an initial supply of 20,000 bottles for Council frontline staff when there was a significant shortage. The company’s owner Rod Parker also donated 5,600 bottles for the Council to distribute to 60 voluntary-run organisations across Rhondda Cynon Taf.

The company has since thrived and has been able to expand further. This year it secured a £44,000 grant from the Major Projects Investment Fund via Welsh Government’s Business Development Fund. This supported implementation of a new shrink wrapping production line, which has created additional local jobs.

These jobs are on top of the 18 roles that Gwalia initially created when it moved its operation to Rhondda Cynon Taf, through developing the geko™ product range owned by Firstkind Ltd. The products are innovative medical devices that help prevent and treat many acute medical conditions.

Gwalia also plays a prominent role within Treforest Growth, a long-standing network for businesses on Treforest Industrial Estate facilitated by the Council and Coleg Morgannwg. It offers support to other businesses, has an ambitious vision for the group, and promotes the use of local supply chains.

To help expand further in the future, Gwalia is now moving to a second location and has worked closely with the Enterprise Team to help identify suitable premises for developing a new product line. A site has been found in Llantrisant, while Gwalia intends to retain its base in Treforest.

Councillor Mark Norris, Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Cabinet Member for Development and Prosperity, said: “Gwalia showed fantastic resilience when, in quick succession, it was faced with significant flood damage to its factory in Treforest, followed by the first lockdown period at the start of the pandemic. However, the company used its manufacturing expertise to help frontline staff and voluntary groups when it was needed most. I’m very pleased that, almost three years on, Gwalia continues to grow and thrive.

“The company’s success in recovering from Storm Dennis and the pandemic was rightly recognised by the Welsh Government Minister for Economy, who toured their existing factory on a recent visit. Gwalia received a £44,000 grant from the Major Projects Investment Fund earlier this year to produce a new product range after engaging with the Council’s Enterprise Team.

“The team offers a range of support to small and medium-sized businesses, private and social enterprises, and start-ups – including help with identifying and applying for available grant funding. Over the years Gwalia, has developed a productive working partnership with the Council, which, along with providing funding opportunities, also helped the company secure a partnership to produce geko™ medical devices.

“I’m delighted that Gwalia will shortly be expanding to a second factory in Llantrisant, committing once again to Rhondda Cynon Taf, and taking advantage of the support the Council offers to local businesses. I wish the company and its staff the very best in completing its move in the near future.”