The boss of one of the region’s leading manufacturers is gearing up to champion the sector at a North East business event.
Mike Matthews, Nifco European operations officer and managing director of Nifco UK based at Eaglescliffe, will be a panellist at the Economic Forecast Breakfast event on Thursday, April 10.
Wealth management firm Brewin Dolphin, in conjunction with the The Journal and its sister paper The Evening Gazette on Teesside, is supporting the event at Ramside Hall in County Durham.
A panel of experts from the world of business and industry will join leading market strategist, Ben Gutteridge - head of fund research at Brewin Dolphin - to debate what the future holds for the global and national economy.
Matthews will be joined on the panel by Dr Joanna Berry, director of engagement at Newcastle University Business School; Catherine Walker, NewcastleGateshead Initiative’s inward investment director; and Rachel Turnbull, chief executive officer of TT2, which operates the Tyne Tunnels.
Nifco UK manufactures injection-moulded plastic products and recently said turnover is set to reach £75m by 2016 as its growth shows no sign of slowing.
Matthews said: “Manufacturing is a cornerstone of the North East economy and I am absolutely delighted to be flying the flag for the sector at the Economic Forecast Breakfast.
“I believe that, whatever the industry, the North East has the right people and natural assets to be a world leader. We are proving it at Nifco UK, and with the right leadership, other businesses can do just the same.
“I am extremely proud to be from the North-east. The support that our parent company Nifco Inc has given to us here in the UK stands to prove that we are a force to be reckoned with in this corner of the country, able to compete on a national and international stage.”
A former apprentice, Matthews, who was named North East Business Executive of the Year in November, has made his way from the shop floor to the helm of one of the region’s leading manufacturing businesses.
The Darlington-born businessman joined Nifco in 1986 and was appointed to his current position in 2008, making him the only non-Japanese board member of Nifco’s international board.
Matthews is also on the board of SEMTA, the organisation responsible for engineering skills for the future of the UK’s most advanced sectors, and works closely with the North East Skills Alliance for Advanced Manufacturing, a recently formed collective made up of champion employers, the region’s 12 local authorities, SEMTA, business membership organisations, training providers and the National Apprenticeship Service.
Matthews has likewise formed links with schools across Teesside to encourage the next generation to come through the ranks, as well as working with training providers to support apprentices into work.
Nifco UK recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Teesside University, which will see the two organisations work closely on skills, innovation and research and development.