AIS Technical has taken the top spot at the North East Exporters’ Awards 2015.
The North Shields company, which manufactures a range of life-saving fire protection jackets for safety-critical pipework, took the SME Exporter Award before going to be named Overall Exporter of the Year at a black tie dinner at Ramside Hall in Durham.
Staged by the North East Chamber of Commerce, in association with The Journal and its sister paper, The Gazette, on Teesside, the awards aim to celebrate North East businesses that have helped boost both the local and UK economy over the past 12 months through their commitment to overseas trade.
AIS, which caters for the oil, gas and petrochemical industries – and which triumphed over shortlisted firms Hougton International and Tekmar Energy Ltd in the SME category – was recognised for the substantial resources it had invested into its export markets.
As much of 70% of the firm’s products – around 50,000 units – are exported to more than 20 different countries worldwide.
The company, which recently won a Queen’s Award for Enterprise, has grown from a tiny operation with only two employees working from a conservatory to a multi-million pound global business employing 150 people within a matter of just eight years.
Similarly impressive growth has been seen at the Washington-based Oil Consultants, which beat off competition from Bonds Hold Ltd and Sevcon Ltd to win the Medium & Large Exporter of the Year Award.
A specialist recruitment agency for the global upstream and oil and gas industry, the firm provides teams and individuals with niche technical skills for contract and permanent jobs.
As a result of growth strategies implemented over the past few years, the company has significantly increased both turnover and profit, leading to the creation of more than 40 jobs in the UK as well as number of new international positions.
Taking the New Exporter Award, meanwhile, was Blue Kangaroo Design, a Gateshead-based design company that specialises in the character licensing industry.
Over the past 12 months, the business has seen a huge increase in turnover from new clients based in the US, UAE, India and Australia.
The runners up in the category were AVID Technology Group Ltd and QuestUAV Ltd.
The Export Team of the Year Award, then, went to the Middlesbrough-based Ecco Finishing Supplies Ltd, which provides surface preparation and surface finishing equipment to the oil and gas industry.
The business, which has benefited greatly from exhibiting in the UAE, beat off competition from Special iApps and Keltie Cochrane.
It wasn’t just exporters themselves, however, that were honoured at the event, with the Supporting Export Award recognising the contributions of those that help others enter and succeed in overseas markets.
In the shortlist was Papillion Translations Ltd and Inter Global Forwarding, but it was Camair Freight Solutions that triumphed in the end.
Based at Newcastle International Airport’s Freight Village, the company has established itself as a sector specialist for exports with a particular focus on hazardous cargoes, from pharmaceuticals to chemicals and consumer products.
Now part of the Casper Shipping group, the business has sought to maximum staff knowledge and expertise, providing extensive training when necessary. This year, the North East Exporters’ Awards also included a Special Recognition Award, which went to the Swan family from Thomas Swan & Co, of Consett, Co Durham.
Reporting a turnover of around £25m and employing 150 people, the company exports to more than 80 countries and has sites in the UK, China and the US.
With a product range consisting of performance chemicals, custom-manufactured chemicals and advanced cutting edge materials, Thomas Swan has built upon its export strategy continuously since its establishment in 1926.
Total export turnover accounted for 72% of sales in the last financial year, while significant spend on research and development has allowed the firm to improve and innovate consistently.