First-class service, the Union Flag and quality products are the cornerstones to Morris Lubricants’ exports success, according to the man in charge of international business.

The 145-year-old oil manufacturer has seen exports grow by more than 30 per cent in the past year alone. Today one in every four litres made at its Shropshire headquarters is shipped overseas, accounting for more than £11 million of its total sales of almost £50 million.

Morris’ products are distributed to 80 countries worldwide, with new markets constantly being explored. In the Middle East, the company has reported a 70 per cent increase in exports in 12 months, with commercial vehicle lubricants and industrial process fluids and greases in great demand.

Stephen Dawe is the firm’s international business director having joined the company in 1992 with the sole aim of expanding the brand overseas.

He said Morris’ success was largely due to the extra efforts the company takes to look after its overseas customers.

“We do set ourselves aside from the rest of the industry where service levels are concerned,” said Mr Dawe. “We build incredibly close relationships with our customers, regardless of whether they are buying a million pounds worth of goods or one or two pallets at a time.

“We tend to their every requirement – and it works. It makes them feel special.”

Family-owned Morris Lubricants, which employs 140 people, has proudly displayed the Union Flag on most of its products for the last 15 years.

“It’s still an emblem of quality,” said Mr Dawe. “The British brand does carry a certain amount of heritage and tradition, particularly in Middle East countries and the places like Australia and New Zealand.”

Morris products are used overseas in a wide range of industries and equipment. One of its largest contracts is the supply of high-technology lubricants to a major bus and coach operator in New Zealand.

But far from resting on its laurels, Mr Dawe said he expects the company’s export division to expand considerably over the next three years, with targets including Slovenia, the Czech Republic, Poland, the United States and China.

The job has taken Mr Dawe around the globe to glamorous locations such as Australia, New Zealand, the Middle and Far East. But one of his first adventures overseas was not quite what he expected.

“One of my first treks was to a gold mine in Mauritania in West Africa,” he said. “I was feeling quite elated because I had misheard and thought I was going to Mauritius. When I was delivered to the capital it was an asbestos building and there were two dead cattle by the side of the runway.

“I came away with dysentery and had to stay there for two weeks in 52 degrees Celsius because the flight was cancelled.”