THE return of steelmaking in the Tees Valley provided an emotional and uplifting topic for an event with a host of regional business leaders.
Redcar’s SSI plant hosted the June meeting of the North East Chamber of Commerce’s Partners, an exclusive group of hand-picked firms from across the regional business community.
The company’s public relations and media director, John Baker, and operations director Cornelius Louwrens provided an overview of the death and resurrection of steel production at the plant.
John, who has 50 years’ experience in the steel industry, previously headed up HR at the plant when it was owned by Tata. He explained how difficult it had been both professionally and personally to see the Redcar works mothballed.
“That mothballing in 2010 effectively ended 160 years of steelmaking on Teesside,” he said. “One North East did an incredible job overseeing the Response Group and Geoff Waterfield kept the issue at the forefront of the news via the Save Our Steel Campaign.”
He explained how Win Viriyaprapaikit, president of Sahaviriya Steel Industries, was impressed with the passion for steel in the area and that commitment helped persuade the firm to buy up the assets of Teesside Cast Products. NECC head of partners, Jo Fryett, said: “It was fantastic for John and Cornelius to not only talk us through the resurgence of steelmaking, but also provide a brief history of the steel industry on Teesside stretching back to the 1840s.
“The NECC partners couldn’t fail to be impressed by the sheer guts and determination showed by the people of Redcar and Cleveland to ensure that the Redcar site would not be allowed to close.”