THE man who turned around the fortunes of what is now one of the North East’s most successful engineering businesses was named The Journal’s business executive of the year last night.
Andrew Hodgson, chief executive of SMD, picked up the top honour at the North East Business Executive of the Year awards, sponsored by Brewin Dolphin, after one of the most successful years in the Wallsend firm’s history.
Since the former BAE Systems strategy director was brought in to lead the company in 2008 after private equity investor Inflexion acquired a 60% stake, its fortunes have been transformed, with turnover more than trebling to around £130m.
The business has witnessed significant growth across all its key business areas, including remotely operated vehicles, trenching, mining, renewables, and nuclear. Staff numbers have doubled from 250 in 2010 to more than 500 today, and Hodgson is particularly committed to supporting apprenticeships.
As well as the day job at SMD, Hodgson has thrown himself into the North East business community, and holds positions on the board of the North Eastern Local Enterprise Partnership and chairs the industry body Subsea North East. His exporting prowess was recently recognised with a prestigious Queen’s Award.
Chairman of the judges, John Mowbray, said Hodgson was a deserving recipient of the honour and had been the unanimous choice of the panel. “We had an exceptionally strong field of candidates this year and the judges who went out to visit all of those shortlisted spoke very highly of what they found,” he said.
“At a time when manufacturing exports are being touted as the great hope for the future of the UK economy, it is quite fitting that the North East’s exceptional endeavours in this area are being recognised with an award for an individual who has played a key role both within his own company and the business community in general.”
Hodgson, who also won the Tyneside and Northumberland heat, won the overall title ahead of Durham sports shoe innovator Wayne Edy and Steve Pearson, boss of Teesside engineering software specialists Pearson-Harper.
The chairman of motor group Benfield, John Squires, was recognised with a lifetime achievement award, while a special prize for outstanding contribution was made to Trevor Mann of Nissan, who the judges said had been instrumental in turning the firm’s Wearside factory into Europe’s most productive car plant.
The *TeaShed boss Jules Quinn, whose innovative tea products are now stocked in John Lewis stores around the UK, was the winner of the Young Business Person award.
Chris Fleetwood was named non-executive director of the year.