A FOURTH major exporting award - the Queen's Award For Enterprise in International Trade - has been awarded to North East manufacturing business Walker Filtration.
The Washington-based compressed air filter manufacturer, which currently exports 88% of its products to 65 countries, says it is aiming for 20% annual sales growth for the next four years.
The family-owned business, which was founded in 1983 and moved into a brand new 12,000 sq. m facility in Birtley Road last autumn, has previously won the top award in 1990, 1995 and 2006.
Both company founder and chairman Brian Walker and his managing director daughter Lianne, have been awarded an MBE in recognition of the success of the business and its export strategy which has recently seen its overseas sales of compressed air filtration products, used widely throughout industry and in medical markets, grow by 19%.
Lianne Walker says: “This award is an honour and accolade which recognises the efforts of everyone within the company, both in Washington and our divisions overseas.
“It demonstrates that North East manufacturing companies can compete with the best in the world and support the region, even in the current challenging economic environment.
“We have maintained a strong focus on sales, and particularly exporting, since Walker Filtration was founded. We started with European markets, which were relatively easy to visit, but have since expanded worldwide with the addition of strategically-placed divisions to support our growth.
“The reason for the growing demand for our products is that we have invested in technical and product development to enhance performance and quality and to differentiate from our competitors.
“As part of this, we form key partnerships with our customers and work with them to address their individual needs.
“Exporting will continue to remain central to Walker Filtration’s growth. There is potential to exploit existing channels further, develop new products for existing markets and target new territories, especially the Far East and South America.”
As well as its headquarters in Washington, the business exports through three overseas bases, Walker Filtration Pty Ltd, Melbourne, Australia, founded in 1995; Walker Filtration Inc, Pennsylvania, USA, established in 2000 and Walker Filtration SA (Pty) Ltd, Johannesburg, South Africa, which opened in 2007.
The company’s biggest export products are compressed air filters, which are used to remove particles, oil aerosols and water vapour from compressed air so it can be used in many different industrial applications from automotive to food and drink as well as in sterile applications for the medical market.
The company, which has significant manufacturing expansion space in its new North East headquarters, has a £22.3m turnover and has seen staff numbers grow from 114 in 2006 to over 200 in 2012.