North East Exporters' Awards 2015: Could you be our winner?

The search is on for the region's brightest export stars ahead of the 2015 awards dinner, which takes place at Ramside Hall Hotel on June 25

Victoria McLaren from SOLO Thermal Imaging Ltd on right and Richard Swart, chair, NECC International Trade Committee
Victoria McLaren from SOLO Thermal Imaging Ltd on right and Richard Swart, chair, NECC International Trade Committee

Success in exports is often down to the efforts of a strong team – and the North East Exporters’ Awards highlights the best of the bunch.

Its Export Team of the Year gong goes to the group of people that has added the most value to their business.

The search is on for the region’s brightest export stars ahead of the 2015 awards dinner, which takes place at Ramside Hall Hotel on June 25.

Sponsored by the North East Chamber of Commerce, the team that wins the Export Team of the Year accolade will have been able to demonstrate adoption of innovative techniques, personnel development, and successful implementation of the companies’ export sales strategy.

Judges are looking at factors including the product range that’s being exported, the complexity – and number – of markets, including more lucrative high-growth markets.

Other criteria include obstacles or barriers to success and the development of an export strategy through to percentage of growth in export sales and staff development measures undertaken.

Last year’s winner was Darlington-based Solo Thermal Imaging.

The family-run firm designs and manufactures the smallest, lightest thermal imaging cameras in the world. The company was originally set up to serve the firefighting industry, but has found new markets as word spreads about its innovative fire safety helmets and clever thermal imaging cameras.

It has increased export activity in recent years, with the cruise ship sector one of its biggest markets.

It has also designed a totally integrated helmet with thermal camera, breathing apparatus and communications to assist in extreme fire fighting conditions. Clients include Costa Cruises, P&O cruises and Regent and Oceania cruise ships. Last year the business secured a five-year deal in Russia, and also has representation in Pakistan, Bangladesh, China, Bulgaria and South Africa.

Based on Darlington’s Morton Park, Solo Thermal Imaging has recently supplied thermal imaging helmets to the £470m cruise liner Royal Princess.

The safety equipment will be used in the event of a fire breaking out on the liner, the thermal imaging camera for searching the sea in “man overboard” situations or for detecting aggressive approaches to the vessel by pirates.

The company also supplied cameras to the South African police to help the fight against ivory poaching.

On home turf, a Solo camera has also been used by the Wildlife and Wetlands Trust to help protect a Great Crane nest at its reserve at Slimbridge – the first time the bird has laid an egg in Britain for 400 years.

The company is also enjoying increasing success with equine thermography equipment used by racehorse trainers and vets in the diagnosis of injuries and ailments in horses.

A Solo Ti camera was used in the preparation of a Melbourne Cup winner in Australia and the company has recently secured an order for 35 cameras for Australian horse-racing stables.

The North East Exporters’ Awards is run by The Gazette and its sister paper, The Journal, on Tyneside – with support from the NECC, UKTI, HSBC and PD Ports.

To make a nomination for the other categories, reserve a table or find further information, visit www.northeastexportersawards.co.uk .

Alternatively contact Andy Forster, events manager, on 0191 201 6430 or email andrew.forster@trinitymirror.com .

The deadline for entries is May 1.

PROUD TO SPONSOR EXPORT TEAM AWARD

Brian Dakers, international trade manager at NECC, said: “The North East Chamber of Commerce is proud to be sponsoring the Export Team award.

“As the region’s largest business membership organisation, world- class connectivity and championing the North East as a major asset for UK PLC is one of our top priorities, and we understand the challenges facing our region’s exporters.

“The North East has a strong record as an internationally trading region with a positive balance of trade. We fully support our region’s exporters and the infrastructure that makes it possible for them to do business.

“Therefore, we are very pleased to be supporting this category again.

“International businesses face particular challenges, and organisations must develop their skills sets accordingly to ensure efficient and effective trading in a multitude of markets.

“Through our work delivering services specifically designed for international businesses we have experience of working with companies in all sorts of industries, and this category seeks out those companies which have done the often overlooked but vital work of creating and developing the expertise required.

“Working with more than 700 of the region’s exporters, we are confident the applications will be plentiful, and look forward to the difficult process of shortlisting from amongst our fantastic exporting community. These awards are about celebrating the success of the companies who are opening the doors of the North East to the world, boosting our economy and putting us on the centre stage of a global marketplace.

“Best of luck to all who apply, we look forward to seeing your applications.”

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