Start local, think global is the golden rule that has helped Keith Miller grow his business Ecco Finishing Supplies from the back bedroom of his Billingham home to a firm valued at £2.4m with a turnover of more than £4m and an impressive list of blue-chip clients all over the world.
He was rewarded for his efforts when he took the Export Team of the Year title in the Journal’s North East Exporters Awards 2013. This year’s awards are being run in association with the North East Chamber of Commerce (NECC), UK Trade and Investment and HSBC Bank.
A global supplier of paint application, blasting machinery and fire protection equipment, Miller and his team have developed Ecco Finishing Supplies into a globally-recognised provider in its field with an impressive list of clients in countries as far-flung as Angola, Canada, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Germany, Taiwan, France and the Middle East. The firm has also made considerable inroads in Russia after securing 2014 Winter Olympic contracts.
Miller said: “I see every order that we win abroad as a major success. Customers acknowledge our ability to be competitive on price and to supply high-quality equipment which gives them the confidence to do the job.
“I visited Nigeria and have future plans to visit the Middle East, Far East and the USA. NECC keeps us up to date with export practices and is a valuable source of information on new markets. Their training courses are also extremely relevant for a business like ours.”
Ecco serves the global construction, automotive, and oil and gas industries. The company has seen export sales grow rapidly after capitalising on inquiries from UK contractors who were unsatisfied with using inferior equipment abroad.
A globally-recognised distributor of specialist equipment and materials, the Middlesbrough-based company is developing its own products to meet client needs and regularly sends engineers abroadt o set up equipment and provide training. One particular innovation – a metering pump for Passive Fire Protection (PFP) treatments –has helped the company’s export sales jump to become more than 50% of company turnover.
Sprayed on to steel work, PFP treatments increase resistance to heat in the event of a major fire, allowing more time for a building to be evacuated before it collapses.
The units have been certified for industrial use and have helped to establish Ecco’s reputation in the oil and gas sector.
Like most serious exporters in the region, Ecco Finishing are members of NECC and feel they get a huge amount of benefit.
Miller added: “We have moved from Azerbaijan to Kazakhstan, then on to Canada, and the Middle East. We’re now exploring a number of new markets and have been successful with projects for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Russia.”
To find out more about how NECC can help your business export contact 0300 303 6322 or email email@example.com
Last year entries nearly doubled for these awards, which are now recognised as the main export awards for the region. The awards dinner will take place on Thursday, May 15, at Ramside Hall Hotel, County Durham. Deadline for entries is Friday, March 21.
The award categories are:
New Exporter Award:
A business that started exporting within the last two years and can demonstrate significant export success in one or more markets.
SME Exporter Award, sponsored by UK Trade & Investment:
A business with turnover of up to £25m that has demonstrated exceptional achievement in export.
Supporting Export Award:
A business with turnover up to £500m that does not export itself, but plays a key role in supporting our region’s exporters to trade overseas. This can either be directly, through providing logistical support, or indirectly through providing associated services such as advice and consultancy.
Export Team of the Year Award, sponsored by NECC:
A team working in export who can demonstrate significant added value to their business through adopting innovative techniques, personnel development, and successful implementation of the companies’ export sales strategy.
Mid & Large Exporter Award:
A business with turnover in excess of £25m that has demonstrated exceptional achievement in export.
Overall Exporter of the Year Award, sponsored by HSBC: The overall winner, which is chosen from the winners of the above awards, plus other export award winners in the region.
Judging criteria and eligibility:
In determining the winners, judges will take the following factors into account:
Product range being exported. Development of export strategy. Percentage of growth in export sales.
Staff development measures undertaken (for the team award only). Complexity and number ofmarkets served. Company/teamperformance.
Obstacles/barriers to success.