When John Nixon established his eponymous firm in 1967, the small Newcastle headquarters were barely big enough to service more than three machines at a time.
John, now in his 80s, had decided to go it alone after working as a sales representative for a concrete poker repair business – but it wouldn’t remain a one-man band for long.
Today, the Newcastle company, which trades as Nixon Hire, has grown to become one of the longest-established businesses in the plant hire sector, with more than 350 staff and a turnover in 2013 of £32.3m.
Forecasted turnover for this year is £36m - and last night the firm was named Company of the Year at the Tyneside and Northumberland Business Awards 2014.
Last year, Nixon Hire invested £19m in launching its 2020 vision campaign, a rapid expansion plan in which it will become a £50m business, beginning with a multi-million-pound inward investment plan focussed on plant equipment, accommodation units and vehicles.
More than 300 business leaders from across Northumberland and Tyneside gathered last night at the Hilton Newcastle Gateshead to see Nixon Hire take the trophy, one of 10 businesses that took the top prize in their category at the ceremony.
The other two shortlisted firms in the Company of the Year category were Gateshead-headquartered Vertu Motors and AAF International.
The black tie event, hosted once more by Kim Inglis, also saw the BBC’s business reporter Steph McGovern deliver an entertaining speech as guest speaker. The Journal editor Brian Aitken also gave a speech, reiterating the importance of training and how we have recognised this by adding the new category of Apprenticeship Award.
He said: “We want to recognise those companies who are already doing some fantastic work in trying to close that skills gap.
“We are working in partnership with Semta, Gentoo, Sunderland College and some of the major manufacturing companies in the North East to encourage more companies to invest in skills and training and to take on apprentices, to end the educational snobbery of schools who too often in the pursuit of hitting targets steer pupils away from a vocational route.” Organised by the The Journal and its sister paper, Teesside’s Evening Gazette, the annual competition, held in association with the North East Chamber of Commerce, shines a light on the last 12 months in businesses large and small, celebrating their successes. All the winners in this sub-regional final go through to the regional final, together with those from the Teesside final and the Durham and Wearside final, with the grand final taking place at Hardwick Hall in Sedgefield in May.