A PROGRESSIVE housing company that has invested massively in its stock was last night named Durham & Wearside Company of the Year.
Derwentside Homes won the first heat of the nebusiness Awards, narrowly beating competition from Darchem Engineering and ALM Engineering Solutions.
The Stanley company also took the Heart of the Community Award at the Durham and Wearside prize dinner for the awards organised by the Journal and Evening Gazette, in association with the North East Chamber of Commerce.
It manages almost 7,000 homes across North West Durham, making it one of the largest providers of rented homes in the region.
To date, the company has invested more than £90m in capital improvements to its homes and will invest another £39m over the next five years.
It has carried out surveys from tenants and won high praise from them and industry sources for its services, and beaten its efficiency targets.
It has remained successful despite public sector spending cuts and an overhaul of the welfare system. And it has shown its commitment to its tenants not only in its main business but by setting up initiatives such as a credit union, a furniture renting scheme and a project to help the elderly.
And it has unveiled its first new development in Ushaw Moor, showing it is really investing in its portfolio in the long term.
Stillington-based Darchem Engineering was a finalist after a year of growth which saw it open a new factory this year and create 90 jobs. And Newton Aycliffe manufacturer ALM Engineering Services has moved into a number of new markets, hoping to double its turnover to more than £5m.
Derwentside Homes was just one of 10 businesses that took the top prize in their category at the ceremony at Sunderland AFC’s Stadium of Light last night.
They were more than 80 finalists covering a wide range of sectors, including the smallest start-ups to some of the biggest industrial names in the North East.
They epitomise the entrepreneurial drive, innovation, financial acumen and ambition that characterises the region’s dynamic economy, and will inspire many more companies as businesses battle these challenging times.
All the winners in this sub-regional final will go through with those from next week’s Teesside final and the Tyneside and Northumberland final the following week to the grand final at Hardwick Hall in Sedgefield in April.
“There were hundreds of entries again this year for the North East’s biggest corporate awards,” said Brian Aitken, editor of the Journal.
He said the awards are increasingly popular, with entries up dramatically on last year from companies large and small across the North East, most of whom had never entered before.
“These awards are a great opportunity for us to celebrate and recognise the success of other companies that have defied the downturn to grow, innovate, find new markets, win new customers and create wealth and jobs in this region.”