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North East's top five hits

 

The cream of North East England’s businesses will compete against other first class companies today (Thursday, 30 November), at the national British Chambers of Commerce awards.

Here is a brief outline of which companies are going and why they stand out from the crowd. Everyone at the Chamber wishes them great success.

The next North East Business Awards, which each of the businesses below have won, are also now open for entry.

Mediaworks

A Gateshead digital marketing business is celebrating its first decade by being on target to double its turnover in the next 12 months and create a further 20 jobs.

Mediaworks was set up by entrepreneur Brett Jacobson after he graduated from Northumbria University. He said: “We are really honoured to be representing the region at the national business awards in the Best Use of Social Media category in London.”

A wide range of clients use Mediaworks’ services including high profile companies GlaxoSmithKline, House of Fraser, Tommee Tippee, Ralph Lauren and fellow Chamber members Omega Plastics and Esh Group. It also developed the Snow Dogs Trail app campaign for St Oswalds Hospice.

The company’s comprehensive range of digital services include Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), Paid Search (PPC), Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO), web and app development and creative content. More recently it has also seen a growing demand for online reputation management.

Through continued digital innovation, Mediaworks helps brands seize opportunities and grow their brand in an online space. The agency is in the process of developing a data reporting tool, giving clients’ greater visibility of their campaigns.

In addition, attracting the brightest industry talent is high on Mediaworks’ list of priorities. Newcastle-native Brett Jacobson said: “We believe in finding and nurturing the North East’s best digital talent. From apprentice to graduate schemes, we support regional talent at every level.”

Omega Plastics Group

The Omega Plastics Group (OPG) provides advanced prototype and production tooling services and specialises in the production of high-quality plastic injection moulding components for a range of industrial sectors including automotive, design and packaging, manufacturing and electronics and medical and pharmaceuticals.

Megan Carr, Marketing and CSR Manager at the Omega Plastics Group, said: “Winning the North East Company of the Year award was a huge achievement for OPG. Following our merge with Signal Plastics in 2015, the company tripled its holdings across the North East so it was fantastic to have that growth and hard work recognised on a regional scale.

“To have now been put forward for the BCC Awards in the High Growth Business of the Year category off the back of our regional success is a great honour and we are thoroughly looking forward to celebrating with businesses from across the country on the night.”

Covering a combined square footage of 62,000, OPG operates three state-of-the-art factories across the North East at sites in Hartlepool, Washington and Blyth. The factories include a range of facilities including in-house tool rooms, mould shops, assembly areas and a dedicated clean room.

OPG is dedicated to driving continuous improvements across its sites, all of which are fitted with the latest technologies and machinery in order for employees to complete their work to the highest standards.

With a range of low to high volume production services available, OPG prides itself on its flexibility and capacity to deliver the highest-possible quality goods, consistently and on-time.

In 2017, OPG was named the North East Company of the Year at The Journal North East Business Awards. Winning this prestigious accolade has emboldened OPG in its approach to new business, and has seen the company successfully secure contracts with a number of blue chip organisations from the automotive sector in recent months.

Egger

Northumberland-based EGGER (UK) Limited, the wood-based materials manufacturer, part of the EUR 2.38 billion turnover Austrian-owned EGGER Group, has an award-winning approach to both apprenticeships and overall employee training. Ten per cent of its circa 600 Hexham workforce either currently, or have been, apprentices. It is up for top honours in the BCC awards Commitment to People Development category.

This year it has added to the 12 apprentices who are currently being trained in a range of departments from IT to engineering with eight new apprentices (two electrical, two mechanical engineers and four business) starting in September.

EGGER’s mechanical maintenance apprentice team leader, Steven Walker, said: “We go through a rigorous selection process for our engineering apprentices and the fact that the majority of them go on to have successful careers with us, shows how they are both valued and enjoy interesting roles here.”

The engineering team and apprentices benefit from a £4m engineering facility, built in 2013, which includes a state of the art training academy.

The company has recently introduced ‘EGGER Kompakt’, an award-winning internal training programme, which is delivered by in-house experts, providing both cross-departmental knowledge transfer and personal development opportunities. Across the EGGER Group over 550 employees have taken part in over 30 courses since it was introduced in May 2016.

O’Brien Waste Recycling Solutions (WRS)

Headquartered at Wallsend, Tyneside, O’Brien WRS will be in the BCC award final for the Service Excellence category.

Head of sales & marketing David Bennett said: “It is a great honour to be in this prestigious business award final and in this category in particular. We have a commitment to customer service which runs through our company at all levels.”

Ambitious plans in the pipeline at present include a new £5m waste recycling centre in Middlesbrough due to open in October which will help service its Middlesbrough Council waste services contract as well as other commercial businesses in Teesside & North Yorkshire.

O’Brien WRS also works with follow Chamber members Newcastle International Airport, Middlesbrough, Newcastle City, Durham County and North Tyneside Councils. It has also been awarded a contract by Chamber Partner member intu MetroCentre.

As part of its commitment to customer excellence the business undertakes training to ensure the companies it works for know how to support their own recycling such as which bin to use for specific waste.

Looking to the future the business is growing its onsite facilities waste management services and developing new technology to enable customers to get instant, first-hand information on their recycling rates via an app.

In addition to the Wallsend base, the business also has recycling centres in Hartlepool and Washington.

Prima Cheese

A world-leading exporter of ready grated cheese products, Prima Cheese, has grown massively over the 11 years since it was established.

The Seaham business was set up by the Beni family when they moved to the North East from Iran. They originally had pizza shops but were not impressed by the quality of the ingredients they were supplied so set about developing their own blends of cheese. They were so successful other businesses asked them to supply them as well.

From that low-key start the business has now grown to such an extent it employs 107 staff and produces 50,000 boxes of various mixes of cheeses for specific global markets, every week.

Nagma Beni, who leads the business’ exporting sales said: “We put our toe in the water of exporting with support from the Chamber and it has paid massive dividends. I think many of our clients like the fact that we are a family business and make sure we give them the best possible service. We are really proud to be going to the BCC awards, competing for the Exporter of the Year award. We want to win not just for us, but all the great team we have here.”

Prima Cheese currently export to 16 different countries and are currently targeting the huge Chinese market.

They are also investing £300k in new machinery and an office refurbishment.