A Furness foam specialist is looking to explore new markets and adapt following the coronavirus crisis.

Urofoam, in Askam, designs and makes products that are used in a truly vast array of applications, from foam footballs, to components used to prevent punctures for mountain bikers and equipment used in the oil industry.

“We fill these big steel tubes up with foam and they drill down and then extract it and then chop it up and examine what’s in the seabed,” said sales and marketing manager Cat Staples.

“Anything that requires a 3D foam moulding we are the best people to come to.

“We do everything in-house, so all our own tooling and mould making and production and post-production, because it’s the quickest way to get things done.

“The interesting stuff is the weird stuff for us, no idea is too ridiculous.”

Urofoam was first begun in Cheshire in 1988 by Terry Andrew, who Cat’s dad Mike Staples worked for at the time.

It first made foam sports balls before beginning to make stress balls and then expanding its work over time.

Mike has now owned the business for 25 years and, when the company needed to expand in 1997, he bought the former K Shoes factory at Askam where Urofoam is based today.

It is a true family business and numbers Cat’s mum Lynne, who works as its company secretary and brother James, a technical designer, among its 32 staff.

Cat said although the company had lost business during the coronavirus crisis it was looking to explore different avenues to take it forward.

“One of the core parts of our business is stress balls for branded and promotional merchandise which is handed out at shows and big events where crowds gather,” she said.

“That is the main place our stress balls go to and that just stopped completely.

“We are a small business in manufacturing, we have got rates and overheads and we have to find a way to pay staff.

“It has been worrying at times.

“But there have been positive changes and there are lots of new things on the horizon.”

About a third of its employees went on furlough during lockdown although most have now returned to work.

Last month planning permission was granted for 42 new homes to be built on its site in Askam as it plans to move to a new, more modern and smaller location, probably in Barrow.

Cat said this was only part of the plan as it looked to explore new areas in the future.

“Sometimes people don’t realise they need a foam solution and so it’s just getting in front of people to explain what we can do and present ourselves as a service, with a design team and an engineering team and a manufacturing team all under one roof,” she said.