Canada and Europe beckons for a Gateshead-based environmental consultancy and training provider which is putting the North East on the map within its sector.
The Environmental Academy, which is celebrating 21 years trading this week, has found success in tailoring training packages for SMEs, corporates and European-wide schemes.
Owner and managing director Rita Callender has successfully franchised the Academy to another entrepreneur in Nova Scotia, which had singled the business out from global competition.
Mrs Callender said: “It’s been a really interesting process for us in Canada. We’ve just re-worked all of our literature to feature Canadian dollars.
“It all came about as we were approached by a businessman who operates on the US Eastern Seaboard. He’d singled us out as leaders in the field - which is a great acknowledgement for a small company from Gateshead.”
The franchisee is a prominent property developer who was looking for a vehicle to incorporate environmental work into his core business activities.
Closer to home, the Academy’s work spans a wide range of environmental specialisms - from online asbestos training to energy saving awareness.
A core team of 11 staff are supplemented by contracted specialists to carry out individual projects on a national and international basis.
UK work with the likes of Aston Martin and Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service is supplemented with increasing Europe-wide projects, sometimes with partners such as Spain’s NovaTech through to the Italy-based European Asbestos Risk Association.
Mrs Callender added: “We’re trying to build awareness of sustainability and change people’s approach to it. Sustainability can not be an isolated stand alone element of a business - it has to be integrated.
“Now it’s something that has to be embedded in all business proposals, and we’re helping firms to win work and improve their bottom line.”
As awareness of environmental sustainability has increased in recent years The Environmental Academy has needed to adapt its training and pursue new standards for a customer base that has grown savvy.
Mrs Callender explained: “We’ve seen a huge build in awareness of sustainability. Our work is certainly not done, but we are making progress.
“You can see there has been improvements across so many organisations. We support a lot of clients in achieving ISO14000 standard - which is great - not only because it’s an international standard but because it requires organisations to show incremental improvements.”
She added: “We’ve also seen a rise in the number of organisations who want us to help them meet certain criteria for pre-qualification questionnaires. Sustainability is a big factor in this area - and almost all tenders require firms to demonstrate their credentials.”