GEOFF Ford has made a big impact on the North East which goes way beyond the successful group of firms he has run for the best part of 40 years.
His impact on the business community in the North East has earned him respect and popularity in the region and beyond and last year he was presented with the Lifetime Achievement title in the North East Business Executive of the Year Awards, which are organised by the Journal and its Teesside-based sister paper the Evening Gazette.
Ford is a remarkable example of a businessman who as well as building up his family firm, the Ford Group in South Tyneside, has always tried to give something back to help others to fulfil their potential too.
Among many other achievements he set up the South Tyneside Manufacturing Forum, received the Queen’s Award for Enterprise Promotion, was appointed regional councillor for EEF North East, founded the Workplace Health Alliance in South Tyneside, and in 2008 was awarded an MBE for services to business in the North East.
South Shields-born, Ford qualified as an accountant in 1969 and took his expertise back to his family’s manufacturing business moving on to the role of managing director in 1975. Since then he grew the business to see revenues of £10m-plus and customers around the world.
In 1985 he became chair of Ford Group and after buying out the assets of competitors in 1992 and again in 2002 was at the helm of a business with a turnover in excess of £8m.
However, a major blow was struck in 2003 when a fire raged through the premises causing extensive damage.
But under the inspirational leadership of our winner, the business got back on track and continued to go from strength to strength, picking up a string of awards on the way.
Although still chair of the business it is Ford’s voluntary commitments that really struck a chord with the judges.
In 2003 he became chairman of the South Tyneside Committee of the North East Chamber of Commerce encouraging them to be more proactive in South Tyneside.
With the bit firmly between his teeth, he then became chairman of South Tyneside Enterprise Partnership and vice chairman of South Tyneside Local Strategic Partnership, where he was instrumental in the borough winning beacon status for its LSP – the only one in the Tyne & Wear area to be recognised.
Then in 2005 the Chancellor of the Exchequer launched a national competition to find the most enterprising place in Britain.
South Tyneside was awarded the title of Regional Capital of Enterprise, a first for the NorthEast.
He is currently rolling out the South Tyneside Manufacturing Forum in other parts of the North East to give the sector a stronger voice nationally and help businesses which are trying to grow in a shrinking economy.
The prestigious North East Business Executive of the Year Awards look for the best and most inspiring people in commerce across the region and look across every sector.
There are trophies for three sub-regions of Teesside, Durham & Wearside and Tyneside & Northumberland and the winners there go on to be finalists at the regional level where one is named North East Business Executive 2012.
In addition there are trophies for the North East Young Business Person of the Year, for those aged under 30, and for Non-Executive Director of the Year, which aims to recognise the vital role non-executives can play in the development of a company.
Once again investment management firm Brewin Dolphin is the associate sponsor of the competition.
Vinay Bedi, divisional director of the business in Newcastle, said: “During this period of economic downturn, this competition is particularly important in trying to recognise those who can help to lead this region back to prosperity.
“The Government is looking to private enterprise to help to lead the recovery and we have a great record in this region of producing individuals who can provide a catalyst for the economic growth which is absolutely imperative for the future success of the North East.”
The judges will be looking for nominations for the awards until August 24.
There is more about the awards online at www.nebusiness.co.uk/ businessexec and regular updates are to be found on Twitter if you use the hashtag #businessexec
There will be an awards dinner on November 15 at the Gosforth Park Marriott which is always one of the biggest dates in the region’s business calendar.
To make a nomination, reserve a table, or for further information, log on to www.nebusiness.co.uk/business exec
Alternatively contact Lesley Hampson, events manager, on 0191 201 6435 or email lesley.hampson@trinity mirror.com
His impact on the business community . . . has earned him respect and popularity in the region and beyond