IN the past 10 months, Ford, which incorporates Ford Aerospace Ltd and Ford Component Manufacturing Ltd, has won awards for its commitment to training, at the recent TDR Annual Awards event; its organisational culture, at Service Network’s Culture for Success Awards; and its export achievements at the North East Exporters Dinner where the company scooped the prestigious Gateway to Global Growth Award.
Add to that a number of lucrative contracts and the launch of a new product range and it’s not difficult to see how the company is going from strength to strength – much to the delight of Ford’s chairman, Geoff Ford, and managing director Mark Podmore.
Ford provides pressed and machined components, mechanical assemblies, treatments and laminated shimstock for a range of industries, including the aerospace and defence sectors.
The company currently operates from two sites in South Tyneside, at Tyne Dock and Monkton, employing 148 people. But with plans for controlled growth gathering pace, discussions on recruitment, investment and a potential third site are more than just talk.
Well-known in the region and highly respected in the manufacturing industry, Geoff Ford said: “So far, this has been an exceptional year at Ford.
“We are delighted with the number of awards we’ve picked up, as they recognise the hard work and commitment of the whole Ford team.
“Our md Mark Podmore has worked tirelessly over the past 18 months to implement a number of changes here at Ford such as introducing LEAN manufacturing, developing our export potential, implementing a new marketing strategy and ensuring that employees are encouraged to continuously improve and develop their skills.
“I feel we are now starting to reap the rewards. We’ve signed a business agreement with Agusta Westland Helicopters which is potentially worth £9m over three years.
“That, along with a number of other contracts including JCB India and Middlesex Group, cements our future plans.
“We have already invested £720,000 so far this year on state-of-the-art machinery and will shortly be looking to recruit more skilled workers to join the team and fulfil our growing order book. The future is looking very bright.”
Building on their export potential has been high on md Mark Podmore’s agenda.
With more than 25 years experience in the manufacturing industry, he is a driving force behind Ford’s plans.
He said: “This year we exhibited at the Paris International Airshow for the first time where we launched our new ‘plasipeel’ non-metallic laminate products range.
“We believe we are the only company in the UK who offer this particular range of non-metallic laminates and we were delighted to pick up orders worth £125,000 at the show.”
“We’ve also carried out a number of trade missions to China which have resulted in over a quarter of a million pounds worth of orders for our Ford ‘easipeel’ product range and have now set our sights on developing export opportunities in India and South America.”
A huge aid to their South American plans has come via the allocation of one of just a handful of places on an trade mission to Brazil, courtesy of Santander who ran a national competition to find companies who would benefit from the trip.
Mark said: “Key members of Ford’s export team are taking part on the visit which will see them introduced to potential new customers, agents and distributors.
“It will be extremely interesting to read their reports and discuss further how to develop this opportunity.”