Durham and Wearside Business Executive of the Year: Tony Cleary

IN its 30th anniversary year, the company Tony founded with his wife Veronica is now the UK’s fourth biggest wine bottler.

Winner: Tony Cleary, managing director, Lanchester Wine Cellars Ltd, Stanley

IN its 30th anniversary year, the company Tony founded with his wife Veronica is now the UK’s fourth biggest wine bottler. Its environmental green footprint betters those of European rivals and its plant, filling 30,000 bottles an hour, is one of the most modern of its kind.

It is also the world’s largest filler of wine in handy-size bottles and imports wine in tanks and bottles from every major wine-producing country. Once a simple wine and spirit merchants run from home and delivering door-to-door by van, the company now operates a fleet of articulated trucks. Every supermarket, off-licence and trade outlet in the UK is likely to stock wine produced by Lanchester Wine Cellars.

Its overseas trade is moving into China and Taiwan. It also sells drinks-related gifts to major UK companies and employs 185 during its peak periods. Tony enjoys messing about on boats, and (obviously) wine-tasting.

Runners up:

Paul Duncan, chairman, Bonds Ltd, Castle Eden

A COMMITTED manufacturer and exporter, Paul’s group rescues struggling firms and the jobs threatened with them, and gives them new starts.

Thus Bonds operates two steel plants providing vital work for rural communities at Tow Law and Alston. While the steel industry generally has been through a nightmare, Bonds Ltd formed 13 years ago, achieved 12th place in this year’s International Track 100. The group makes steel castings for a diverse international client base representing offshore oil and gas, power, marine and construction equipment. It provides finished valve, pump and general engineering castings of up to 12 tonnes, including half a million for the UK’s two new aircraft carriers. The Alston plant, which has been running for 65 years, is distinguished for its part in inventing a Shaw Process, a specialist ceramic technique. Paul, 62, is from Durham.

Anthony Smith, managing director and owner, Current Thinking Ltd, Sunderland

EIGHT years of groundwork and systematic development appear to be paying off for Anthony’s business, which is built on society’s growing desire for personal safety. Anthony is a Sunderland University graduate from Lincoln who has set up and developed Current Thinking Ltd as a specialist in products for legislative markets.

These include voice alarm, fire telephone and disabled refuge systems, induction loops and call systems for the disabled. All products are designed and made at the firm’s Sunderland factory. It installed fire safety telephones in the world’s tallest building, the 2,220ft tall Burj Tower in Dubai and in more than 50 other towers there.

It has supplied the largest fire telephone system documented to the Westfield shopping centre in London and has also provided for Dublin Airport, Wimbledon tennis complex, the Tate Britain and St Pancras international terminal. Anthony is married with two children and lives in Roker, Sunderland.

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