The search is on to find the leading light in Tyneside and Northumberland’s business community.
A gifted company leader will be selected from the region to go head to head with two equally talented individuals from Teesside and Durham and Wearside in the finals of North East Business Executive of the Year Awards in November.
Run by The Journal in association with The Gazette on Teesside, the awards celebrate the great role models of the business world, who have led their companies to great achievements in the last 12 months, sometimes in the face of adversity.
Last year, Tyneside and Northumberland’s champion was John Dickson, who has spent nine years at the helm of the Dudley-headquartered Owen Pugh Group
Dickson built up a wealth of experience at home and abroad through management roles at a number of firms including NEI (Reyrolle), Rolls-Royce Industrial Power Group, ABB and Alstom until he was given the chance he’d been waiting for right here in the North East.
He had been on a family visit to Northumberland in 2005 when he was introduced to Keith and Stewart Pugh of Owen Pugh, who were looking to exit the business 18 years after taking over the business following the death of their father, the company namesake Owen Pugh.
Dickson bought the business that year to become chairman and owner, since using his wide knowledge to steer the business through some of the toughest times the construction and civil engineering sectors have endured in decades.
Determined to grow the business and counter the recession, the business now operates from four sites covering an area from Tweed to Humber, and he has more than doubled both workforce, to 360, and turnover, to £31.7m, since taking over.
Accounts are currently being finalised for the year ended March 2014, but early estimates forecast a £5.3m leap in turnover to around £37m.
Through astute acquisition he has rapidly built the group into seven divisions, covering the various aspects of contracting, and he has advanced competitiveness and competences by investing in high technology.
Aside from looking after its current workforce, Dickson is very much aware of the need to nurture the workforce of the future and the company is actively involved in a number of projects to inspire students from schools and colleges across the region about the varied career opportunities that exist in construction.
Involvement in the wider community is also important to Dickson and the Owen Pugh Group, recently demonstrated when the business was announced as title sponsor of the Burgham International Horse Trials.
The company has also played a key role in getting the site ready ahead of the prestigious competition which gets underway at the end of this month.
Dickson said: “The North East Business Executive of the Year awards offers a fantastic profile opportunity for businesses of all sizes and backgrounds and I would urge business leaders the length and breadth of the region to make the most of the opportunity to showcase their achievements via this prestigious awards platform.
“It was a real privilege to be named Tyneside and Northumberland’s Business Executive of the Year and to be part of a really special event that rewarded business excellence, innovation and success. The awards’ event itself was a great chance come together with a wide range of companies for an evening of celebration and networking.”