The business of finding success, however small
SMALL companies are key to the growth of the North East economy and contribute billions of pounds to the UK’s wealth every year.
In this region, smaller businesses are highly valued by the business community, which knows that every Sage and Barratt and Go Ahead started out as one entrepreneur with a good idea, ambition and a taste for hard work.
And we recognise the best of our SMEs at the nebusiness awards, which are organised by The Journal and Evening Gazette, in association with Business Link, which celebrate the best of the best in all types and sizes of businesses.
Judges look for financial success, innovation, growth and the ability to capitalise on a niche in the market.
Last year’s Small Business Awards was won by Newcastle company Houghton International, which has gone on to justify the title with plans to double its turnover to £10m by winning a host of overseas orders, as well as benefiting from cost-cutting in the UK’s railway industry.
Houghton won orders for its high-voltage coil products from countries including Canada, Kuwait, Ireland and Singapore, and now expects to grow its international client base over the next four years.
The Walker-based firm expanded into a new 10,000sq ft manufacturing facility a year ago. It is now looking to grow its sales from around £3m to £10m in four years as a result of the increased workload, as well as add 10 staff to its 64-strong workforce.
Houghton International was originally founded in 1984 in Houghton-le-Spring, before moving to larger premises in South Shields in 1990 to accommodate an increase in both employees and orders. It moved to Walker Riverside in 1998. Over the years, the company has gained more than 400 customers and exports to over 20 countries, including Greece, Canada, the Middle East, Hong Kong, Nigeria, Norway and the USA.
The Small Business Award is just one of 10 categories open to successful firms in the region and the prizes are highly sought-after accolades which help to market the company.
We will champion the most promising new businesses with a Newcomer of the Year Award. As we spur the region to export with our Go Global campaign, we mark exceptional efforts to sell overseas with the Export Award. We reward the cleverest commercial ideas with the Innovation Award. We find the manufacturing companies beating the slump to show exceptional performance with the Manufacturing Award. We will celebrate corporate achievements in helping communities and the environment with the Corporate Responsibility and Environment Award. We will recognise the efforts of companies to look after their staff with the Employer of the Year Award and the Learning, Training and Skills rewards their work to improve their staff.
We highlight those who best look after their most important resource in the Employer Award, arts businesses will be recognised in the Best Creative Business Award and we will reflect professional achievements outside the private sector with the Not-For-Profit Organisation of the Year Award.
MARKING ACHIEVEMENT IS EVEN MORE IMPORTANT NOW
DURHAM Business School is delighted to be a sponsor of the Journal’s nebusiness awards 2010. We feel that, as challenging economic conditions continue, it is especially important to mark the achievements of regional companies that are succeeding.
As a global leader of management education, research and knowledge transfer, all of which are critical to commerce and rebuilding economies, collaboration with local business is important to us. We have a time-honoured reputation for providing a wide range of support to North East companies of all sizes. This is why we encourage more small, local companies to take advantage of the wealth of expertise at Durham.
The School’s Management Development Centre provides a valuable resource to the region’s businesses, possessing considerable experience, skills and expertise which afford it a unique insight. It offers a portfolio of programmes in a variety of formats and undertakes research and consultancy projects for public and private sector organisations.
In addition to open recruitment programmes, the Centre has an established excellent reputation in designing bespoke programmes. Developed through close working relationships with client organisations, these initiatives release the potential of key executives, enhancing the value they add to their organisation.
Other initiatives on offer at Durham include Knowledge Transfer Partnerships and MBA Business Projects, schemes where companies across the North East can significantly enhance their performance at very little or no extra cost.
The School’s 12-week Business Project initiative matches companies with its MBA students, who then work closely with the organisation to investigate and provide free consultancy to identify and tackle real business issues. The projects operate as a partnership between the Business School and the host firm, benefiting both.
Knowledge Transfer Partnerships are, in part, grant-funded and are also popular with both small and large companies seeking a holistic approach and a longer-term strategy to improving efficiency and increasing their profitability. A typical example is research which the School undertook with the Esh Group to strengthen their Corporate Social Responsibility activities and measure the effects of local trading.
In addition to working with Peterlee- based, frozen food distribution specialists, Eden Farm to provide new financial modelling for the company’s business structure, the KTP team are now working with the NHS to develop and introduce healthcare commissioning processes.
To find out more about Durham Business School go to www.durham.ac.uk/dbs
Professor Rob Dixon is Dean of Durham Business School