The driving force behind leading car parts manufacturer Nifco UK will be the keynote speaker at this year’s Durham Oktoberfest.
Mike Matthews, European operations officer for Nifco and managing director of Nifco UK, started at the company as an apprentice after leaving school and has worked his way up through the business, playing an important role in the Teesside firm’s transformation.
Now at the helm of the business, Matthews, who is also vice chairman of the NECC, will talk about the challenges he has faced in turning the business around and some of the highs and lows he has experienced in his 30 years, which culminated in his promotion to European operations officer three years ago.
He said: “I am delighted to be invited to be keynote speaker at this year’s Durham Oktoberfest. The event is all about promoting the region’s strengths within the fields of engineering and manufacturing and part of that process is to give our firms the chance to hear from people like me, who have experienced first hand the highs and lows of running a business.
“Nothing in life comes easy; I know that better than anyone.
“Just 10 years ago Nifco was operating at a loss and struggling to retain clients. Today it’s a completely different story.
“We’re an award-winning business supplying some of the world’s leading automotive specialists including Nissan, Honda, Toyota and Ford. It’s a remarkable turnaround and one that, without belief, wouldn’t have been possible.”
Nifco UK, which manufactures plastic fasteners and interior, exterior, fluid carrying and engine plastic component parts for the automotive industries, moved to £8.5m premises in 2012, and opened a second facility in April, on land adjacent to its main Eaglescliffe headquarters.
This enabled the business to increase capacity and grow its research and development arm.
Darren Race, project leader for Durham Oktoberfest and chairman of South Durham Engineering and Manufacturing Forum, said: “We are delighted to be able to announce Mike Matthews as our keynote speaker.
“To secure someone of Mike’s calibre is a real feather in our cap and one which demonstrates the importance of Durham Oktoberfest on a regional scale. Other guest speakers will be announced in the coming weeks.”
Nifco has also been confirmed as one of this year’s Meet the Buyer participants, joining the likes of Heerema, AKS Precision Ball, Northumbrian Water and Parker Hannifin.
Meet the Buyer gives new and growing SMEs the ideal platform to put themselves on the radars of those bigger companies they want to supply to, and to potentially secure work with them.
Corum Hirst, Nifco’s Purchasing Manager, said: “Nifco is looking forward to another great Meet the Buyer event in which we hope to meet with many potential new suppliers in some key growth categories for us.
“Nifco is currently experiencing a large and rapid growth period and require potential new suppliers to support this growth. We are confident this event will provide some good contacts to move forward with.”
This year’s Durham Oktoberfest, which is being delivered by the North, East and South Durham Engineering Forums in partnership with NEPIC, the Advanced Manufacturing Forum, NOF Energy, Business Durham and the Manufacturing Advisory Service (MAS), takes place on Thursday, October 23, at the Xcel Centre in Newton Aycliffe.
Business Durham has been confirmed as one of the gold sponsors of the event and other packages are still available.
To find out more about Durham Oktoberfest visit durhamoktoberfest.org.uk, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0191 3037772.