A STOCKTON car parts company has been named the best business in the North-east.
Nifco UK has taken the prestigious Company of the Year crown at the regional grand final of the nebusiness awards 2010.
Accepting the award, Nifco UK MD Mike Matthews described the win as “absolutely unbelievable” and said “the people of Teesside” were key to the company’s continued success.
It was a night of double success for the firm, which has just begun work on a multi-million pound expansion in Stockton, as it also lifted the North-east Manufacturing Award.
Last night’s event at Hardwick Hall Hotel, near Sedgefield, brought together winners from three sub-regional awards events - Teesside, Durham and Wearside and Tyneside and Northuberland.
Finalists battled it out to be named the best of the best in the awards which are organised by the Evening Gazette and The Journal in association with The Business & Enterprise Group.
Nifco’s awards top a hugely successful 12 months for the company.
It recently started work on an £8.5m state-of-the-art factory in Stockton which will create 120 new jobs and bring the total workforce to 300.
It first opened its UK headquarters in Stockton in 1990 supplying plastic injection- moulding components to automotive plants across the country including Nissan in Sunderland, Honda and Toyota and exporting globally to firms such as Ford.
Building on the brownfield, 130,000sq ft factory is expected to be completed by November, with the new plant operational in the first quarter of 2012.
Earlier this week the company was awarded £1.65m from the Regional Growth Fund, enabling it to enhance and expand its automotive customer base and the supply of critical components for new vehicles including electric vehicles.
The grant will lead to £11m of capital investment, the creation of 128 new jobs and the safeguarding of a further 158.
Mr Matthews told the audience last night: “Manufacturing and creating things is at the heart of what Nifco does,
“We make and produce and reward our customers and our staff.
“This award is also all about the people of Teesside who made it all so successful. But we are still moving forwards and with the new factory there are great things ahead of us.”
Another Teesside winner at last night’s glittering regional final was Billingham’s Pearson Harper.
Pearson Harper took the North-east Internet and ICT Award last night - having already taken the same title at the Teesside heat, along with the Small Business Award.
It’s also been a year of success for the firm, which recently took on 24 staff after clinching a £6.25m contract with oil giant Chevron.
The new recruits include project managers, software development specialists, data analysts and administration support staff.
The guest speaker at last night’s event was former Deputy Prime Minister, Lord John Prescott.
He said he was “delighted” to be at the event which was an “evening of celebration”, presenting awards to people who “had shown grit, who have courage, innovation and are still proud of what they want to do”.
He said there was a “sheer joy” in celebrating people “who are proud of what they’ve done - and we are proud of them”.
He added: “To be here at this particular time, with all the difficulties, that here in the North-east - and you always know the adversity that you’ve suffered - you’ve always got that special grit, that special humour, that desire to do something and get on and not just moan about it.”
Company of the Year - sponsored by Sunderland City Council
Winner: Nifco UK, Stockton
Finalists: Kilfrost, Newcastle; Walker Filtration, Washington
Corporate Responsibility & Environment Award - sponsored by Northumbrian Water
Winner: Alex Smiles, Sunderland
Finalists: Cynergy, Stokesley; South Tyneside Homes, Jarrow
Export Award - sponsored by UK Trade and Investment and HSBC
Winner: Kilfrost, Newcastle
Finalists: Exwold Technology, Hartlepool; Perry Process Equipment, Newton Aycliffe
Internet and ICT Award - sponsored by The Sage Group
Winner: Pearson Harper, Billingham
Finalists: The Bazaar Group, Cramlington; Guroo, Houghton-le-Spring
Innovation Award - sponsored by South Tyneside Council
Winner: Tekmar Energy, Newton Aycliffe
Finalists: Biochemica UK, Hartlepool; Palintest, Gateshead
Manufacturing Award - sponsored by Port of Tyne
Winner: Nifco UK, Stockton
Finalists: Responsive Engineering, Gateshead; IPB UK, Washington
Newcomer of the Year Award - sponsored by Northern Rock
Winner: Trade Training Associates (TTA), Newcastle
Finalists: Teesside Precision Engineering, Middlesbrough; Lynch Healthcare, Sunderland
Services Award - sponsored by Yorkshire Bank
Winner: BT South Tyneside, South Shields
Finalists: Additional Lengths, Stockton; Cellular Solutions, Sunderland
Small Business Award - sponsored by Durham Business School
Winner: Advanced Industrial Solutions, North Shields
Finalists: Pearson-Harper, Billingham; Guroo, Houghton-le-Spring
Not-for-profit Organisation of the Year Award - sponsored by Wipro Technologies
Winner: Acumen, Peterlee
Finalists: Newcastle United Foundation, Newcastle; St. Oswald’s Hospice, Newcastle