Hundreds of leading members of the region’s business community came together last night to see one of their number take the prestigious title of Company of the Year in the North East Business Awards (NEBA), run by The Journal and our sister paper, the Evening Gazette in Middlesbrough, in association with the North East Chamber of Commerce.
Designed to highlight the inspiring work being done by firms of varying sizes from throughout the North East, these awards epitomise what makes this region great.
Going home with the coveted trophy was Nixon Hire of Newcastle which has grown massively since its inception nearly 50 years to a truly international operation.
The family-owned business started life in 1967 as a tiny operation run by chairman John Nixon, now in his 80s, who had decided to go it alone after working as a sales representative for a concrete poker repair business.
Now it is a global business employing more than 350 people and boasting a forecasted turnover of £32.3m.
The firm has grown consistently throughout its lifetime, offering a wide range of services, from non-operated plant hire to toilet hire to plant repairs.
It is fully accredited to ISO 9901:2008 across all its depots and is renowned for its innovation, both through concepts such as its Welfarevan mobile welfare facilities and its embracing of all things digital, from social media to advanced route planning software.
The firm, which was also named Company of the Year for the Tyneside and Northumberland region, took the overall title at a glittering ceremony at Hardwick Hall Hotel, near Sedgefield.
Hosted by presenter Kim Inglis, and with guest speaker the television personality Monty Halls, the black-tie ceremony was attended by more than 600 people, many of them representatives of the 38 shortlisted companies.
Giving the welcome address was Russell Borthwick, managing director of Trinity Mirror North East, parent company of The Journal and Evening Gazette.
He said: “Spring has sprung and it feels too that this is now really starting to extend to business and consumer confidence. We are all, I hope, starting to sense a spring in the step of the economy.
“Individually and collectively we need to be ready to take full advantage. Collaboration and partnership working have a key role to play in ensuring we don’t miss the opportunity.
“There is, however, a nagging danger – with 12 local authorities, two Local Enterpise Partnerships, a combined authority in the North of the region, various groups promoting adjacent initiatives and organisations pursuing their own agendas – that we could become slightly disjointed and unfocused in our efforts.
“We at Trinity Mirror North East are challenging those in positions of influence to get joined up and offering to play a greater and more central role in the process.
“Let’s channel all of this goodwill and create our very own North East Spring.”
Runners-up for Company of the Year were Eldiss Transport of Consett, regional winner in the Durham and Wearside heat, and Hertel of Middlesbrough, which won the Teesside heat.
All the winners:
Not-for-Profit Organisation of the Year, sponsored by Gentoo: Beamish, The Living Museum of the North
Best Creative Business Award, sponsored by NRG: J C Atkinson & Son Ltd
Low Carbon, Corporate Responsibility & Environment Award, sponsored by Port of Sunderland: ARPower Ltd
Small Business Award, sponsored by University of Sunderland: The Bazaar Group
Innovation Award, sponsored by Newcastle University Business School: ZeroLight
Manufacturing Award, sponsored by Business Durham: Nobia UK
Newcomer of the Year, sponsored by Virgin Money: PJA Distribution Ltd
Heart of the Community Award, sponsored by Derwentside Homes: Castlegate Shopping Centre
Internet & ICT Award, sponsored by Press Ahead: The Bazaar Group
Services Award, sponsored by npower: J Warren ABP Ltd
Export Award, sponsored by Santander: CorDEX Instruments Ltd
Apprenticeship Award, sponsored by Accenture: Derwentside Homes
Company of the Year, sponsored by Sunderland City Council: Nixon Hire