Last year it was the man who has steered North East car parts manufacturer Nifco UK to success who was named North East Business Executive of the Year.
Mike Matthews, European operations officer and managing director at the Eaglescliffe-based business, took the top honour after also being named Teesside’s Business Executive of the Year for 2013.
And since last year’s awards, growth has continued at the firm - with further investment, expansion and job creation.
The company, which makes plastic components, from door handles to bumper brackets for customers including Nissan, Ford, Toyota and Honda, has had much to celebrate since Mr Matthews took the helm in 2008.
That year, the company turned over £28.5m, and a loss of £675,000 was turned into a profit of £2.86m.
Growth has continued at an impressive rate ever since.
The firm expects that - with secure contracts and successful entry into new markets - its turnover will reach £75m by 2016.
The only non-Japanese member of Nifco’s international board, former apprentice Mr Matthews has worked his way up from the shopfloor.
The business, which moved to its current Durham Lane site in 2012, has added to its 130,000 sq ft factory with a second £12.8m, 61,451 sq ft facility. The new premises opened recently providing more manufacturing space as well as a research and development centre.
The new R&D facility will lead to staff numbers increasing to more than 450 over the next two years and will help secure future business in the UK and globally.
With RDF support and investment from Nifco Inc - Nifco UK’s parent company - the project is expected to spur on significant growth for the business, securing and enhancing its position as a supplier to the automotive industry not only in the UK, but around the world.
Matthews said the new factory would provide the business with a major boost as well as bringing new jobs to the area.
He said: “This latest factory development is a real vote of confidence in Nifco UK from our parent company, and testament to the hard work of our current team, who have established our Teesside facility as a leading light on an international stage - not only as a manufacturer, but as the brains behind new, emerging products that will help grow the business.”
Matthews was also recently included in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List, receiving an MBE for services to business in the North East, and he is also honorary vice president of the North East Chamber of Commerce.