Manufacturer SMH Products proved to be a safe bet when it scooped the top prize at the 2013 Ward Hadaway Fastest 50 Awards.
The company, which makes safety and decontamination protection equipment for workers in a range of hazardous environments, won the award for fastest-growing North East company for 2013, as well as being named the fastest-growing medium-sized company in the region.
The double award win for South Shields-based SMH Products comes as the region looks to build on the early signs of economic recovery.
SMH Products has seen its business expand rapidly in recent years as it has extended its range from providing decontamination equipment for asbestos removal into other sectors including the nuclear, biological and construction industries and has expanded to provide training, servicing and testing.
Dean Rowe, commercial director, said: “We were completely unprepared for this win. In the past, we have not gone out of our way to get publicity, we have just gone down our own path and done our own thing so this is recognition which we didn’t expect.
“We are specialists in a niche market and we have expanded our business nationally and internationally with depots in Australia, New Zealand and two in France and we are looking to go into other countries as well.
“We have always concentrated on asbestos removal, but we made a conscious decision to diversify and go into other markets involving other hazardous environments.”
SMH Products received its awards at a ceremony at BALTIC, the Centre for Contemporary Art, in Gateshead on Friday.
The other winners at the Ward Hadaway Fastest 50 Awards for 2013 were Hartlepool-based I Love Wallpaper and px group of Stockton-on-Tees.
I Love Wallpaper won the fastest-growing small business award after seeing rapid growth in sales of its wide range of wall coverings.
The family-run retailer operates a store in Hartlepool but sells its stock around the UK and indeed across the world from its successful online store and via online auction site eBay, where it has achieved top seller status.
Px group, named the fastest-growing large business of 2013, is active in a whole range of sectors including power, gas, fuel storage, waste, biofuel, renewable energy and petrochemicals, providing services from plant management to energy trading and engineering consultancy.
Its status at the forefront of the energy field was confirmed earlier this year when px group won the contract to operate the world’s largest fat-fuelled power station, at Beckton in east London.
The winning companies were revealed before an audience of over 200 business leaders and representatives of the Fastest 50 companies at Six Restaurant on the top floor of BALTIC.
Edward Twiddy, director of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership, was the guest of honour at the event and gave the keynote speech.
Twiddy said: “This is exactly the kind of event we want to be doing more of as it is great to see so much success on show.”
Mr Twiddy spoke about the work which the North East LEP was doing on investing in the region’s businesses, financing an improved skills development and apprenticeship programme in the North East and boosting the region’s connectivity to international markets.
He said: “We want to make the North East the most innovative, thriving small business community in Northern Europe.”
The Fastest 50 is sponsored and organised by leading North law firm Ward Hadaway and supported by The Journal.
Colin Hewitt, partner and head of commercial at Ward Hadaway, said: “These awards have now been going for 15 years and they continue to produce inspiring examples of true business excellence. The Fastest 50 for 2013 has once more demonstrated that the region is home to genuine world-class companies who can take on the challenges of the global economy and emerge stronger.
“All the award winners are shining examples of success which show that we in the North East can compete not just on a national level but a global one too.”
Further coverage of the Fastest 50 for 2013 will feature in a special supplement in Wednesday’s Journal.