Three North East businesses win Queen's Award for Enterprise

Elfab Ltd, Oil Consultants and Advanced Industrial Solutions Ltd all win Queen's Awards for their international trade

Chief executive of Oil Consultants, Helen Smith
Chief executive of Oil Consultants, Helen Smith

Three North East firms demonstrating outstanding achievements in international trade have been named as winners of the Queen’s Award for Enterprise.

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has unveiled the 141 winners of the Queen’s Awards for Enterprise and six individual recipients of the Queen’s Award for Enterprise Promotion.

And North Shields-based Elfab Ltd, Oil Consultants Ltd of Washington and Advanced Industrial Solutions Ltd (AIS) have been singled out as the three winners from the region who have been recognised for their contribution to enterprise within international trade.

The Queen’s Awards scheme is regarded as the most prestigious business awards in the country and this year – the 50th anniversary – 105 businesses received awards for international trade, 24 for innovation and 12 for sustainable development.

Specialist recruitment agency Oil Consultants Ltd won its third Queen’s Award in six years for its international trade prowess.

The Washington firm said the award comes on the back of skills shortages in the global oil and gas industry.

The £31m company was formed in 1999 by oil industry workers who spotted an opportunity in the market. With international sales of over £26m, it now provides individuals and teams of technical personnel to clients in over 95 countries.

Three years ago the firm launched an ambitious growth plan that saw it double staff numbers as well as establishing operations in Australia, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Norway, Trinidad, the UAE and the US.

The growth plans were, however, put on hold last month when many of the oil industry firms it deals with announced huge losses because of the plunging price of oil around the world.

Helen Smith, chief executive, said: “We are absolutely thrilled to have been given this award – it is a huge credit to all our staff who work so hard to support our clients and consultants.

“To have received the award for a third time is an outstanding achievement and one which we are extremely proud of.”

North Shields-based Elfab Ltd is also celebrating becoming a winner.

The manufacturer, which makes intelligent pressure relief systems to protect people, plant and processes, has shown significant year-on-year growth over the last 10 years, especially in overseas sales, and has clear plans to continue growing.

Elfab marketing director Deborah Bevan said: “We are delighted and honoured to receive this award, which is tribute to the hard work and determination of the entire Elfab team.

“The company has responded to global economic challenges to ensure that we continue to grow through our offering of superior products and services. The Queen’s Awards showcase the best of British Engineering.”

Paul Stonebanks, managing director of AIS Training
Paul Stonebanks, managing director of AIS Training

Meanwhile, Advanced Industrial Solutions Ltd, a manufacturer and service-provider to the global offshore, wind energy and industrial sectors, said it has grown by 120% over the past three years.

The North Shields company has also created more than 100 new jobs in that time, while also establishing additional bases in the Caribbean, Aberdeen, Middle East, Kazakhstan and Humberside.

Heavy investments have also been made to create a state-of-the-art manufacturing centre, 150,000sqft £10m specialist training village and on-site hotel at North Shields.

Managing director Paul Stonebanks said: “It is a huge honour to receive a Queen’s Award for Enterprise, which is widely recognised as the world’s most prestigious business title.

“At AIS we are constantly striving for innovative and better ways to solve industrial challenges and we work closely with clients to develop bespoke solutions.

“Having our achievements recognised at the highest levels of business is fantastic news.”

The Queen’s Awards are made annually by HRH The Queen. Winners attend a special reception at Buckingham Palace and can use its distinctive emblem in advertising and marketing as a symbol of their quality and success.

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