IT was a case of back to the future for Soil Machine Dynamics as it was crowned the fastest-growing company in the North East for 2009.
In a previous incarnation as Bywell Holdings, the company won the fastest-growing large business award in the very first Fastest 50 Awards back in 1998.
This year, the sub-sea engineering specialist was named fastest-growing overall business, as well as fastest-growing large business at the Ward Hadaway Fastest 50 Awards at the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead.
Soil Machine Dynamics – or SMD, as it is known – is one of the world’s leading specialists in designing and manufacturing remotely-operated sub-sea vehicles. The Wallsend-based company’s products are used across the globe in the offshore oil and gas industries, submarine telecoms sector and oceanographic research.
SMD was bought out by its management team in April 2008 in a deal backed by private equity specialist Inflexion.
Andrew Hodgson, chief executive officer of SMD, said: “We are absolutely delighted to have won these awards.
“They are a testament to our success over a number of years and we are very glad to be winning awards like this in trying times.”
Other winners at the Fastest 50 Awards were temperature and pressure sensor specialist Controle Mesure Regulation (UK) Ltd from New York, North Tyneside, which won the fastest-growing medium business award, and electrical contractor Waymid Ltd, from Stockton, which was named fastest growing small business of 2009.
The winning companies were revealed before an audience of 150 business leaders at Six Restaurant on the top floor of the Baltic.
David Laws, chief executive of Newcastle International Airport, was the keynote speaker at the prestigious event.
Mr Laws said that all businesses had experienced the “turbulence” caused by the global recession, and talked about the efforts which Newcastle International Airport had made to retain key routes to destinations across the world. He also paid tribute to the efforts of the companies in the Fastest 50.
He said: “Your companies are the reason why the North East is an example to other UK regions of how business dynamism and growth can help lift an entire region out of the shadows and into the spotlight – transforming its prosperity and placing it firmly on the world map.
“The influence of the fastest 50 businesses in our region spreads far beyond the North East of England. Your successes resonate nationally and globally and will play a key role in the future prosperity of the nation, not just the region.
“The Fastest 50 is a source of great pride for the North East and we should revel in celebrating the achievements of those who have prospered during such a tough climate.”
Brian Aitken, editor of The Journal, introduced the awards, which reward profit-making, privately-owned companies and organisations in the region which have shown the strongest sales growth over recent years.
He said: “Through good times and bad, the Fastest 50 Awards have highlighted the versatility, the expertise, the innovation of our region’s businesses and how they make their mark across the region, the UK and the rest of the world.
“I think this year’s Fastest 50 deserve extra praise for prospering in such a difficult time.”
The Fastest 50 is sponsored by leading North law firm Ward Hadaway and supported by The Journal. Colin Hewitt, head of commercial law at Ward Hadaway, said: “We congratulate our award winners and indeed every business in this year’s Fastest 50.
“All those on the list have performed fantastically well in a challenging economic climate and we salute their achievements.
“They 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.”
For a full run-down of all the companies in the Fastest 50 and analysis of the list, see pages eight and nine of this special supplement.
The Fastest 50 winners for 2009
Fastest-growing small business: Waymid Ltd, Stockton.
Fastest growing medium business: Controle Mesure Regulation (UK) Ltd, New York, North Tyneside.
Fastest growing large business and overall winner: Soil Machine Dynamics Ltd, Wallsend, North Tyneside.