21 temps offered permanent contracts at ZF

GLOBAL automotive technology leader ZF has rewarded 21 temporary workers with permanent contracts, starting as of November 1.

The staff, who were initially brought in to meet a demand in orders, were appointed through the Peterlee company’s recruitment partner, Ranstad Recruitment.

However, after impressing during their time with ZF, the 21 employees were offered permanent positions.

The roles are in production and warehousing.

ZF Peterlee is looking to attract more temporary workers to meet demand for the safety camera technology produced on site.

Lisa Hudson, HR Manager at ZF said: “Our temporary workers are an essential part of our day to day operations, recruited to meet peaks in production which occur at regular intervals throughout the year.

“The twenty one people who have earned themselves permanent jobs have each demonstrated an excellent work ethic and have become invaluable within the teams they’ve been supporting – which is why they’ve been rewarded with ZF contracts.

“It’s an incredibly busy time for the company and we are actively looking to recruit more temporary workers who can support the demand of global customer orders.”

John Cree, ZF Employee Council chairman, said: “The Employee Council works to protect the interests of all staff within ZF, and all of our reps are delighted that a further 21 agency employees have recently been rewarded with new contracts – we look forward to supporting them in the transition into permanent employment.”

ZF Peterlee, which employs over 1,000 people, is a worldwide leader in the production of camera safety technology, with millions of pounds of investment committed in the last few years to support the continued growth of the market.

EDBS announces schedule of 2022 business support workshops

East Durham Business Service is holding a series of workshops in 2022 which are designed to help people make the move into self-employment and grow their business when they do.

The workshops are being delivered by Hina Joshi.

Subject and dates below:

Finance Workshops – designed to help people understand the financial complexities of running your own business:

11 January

22 February

22 March

19 April

17 May

Marketing workshops – to help attendees understand how to market their business to grow their audience:

25 January

8 March

5 April

3 May

31 May

Be Your Own Boss Workshops

15 February

15 March

12 April

10 May

The Be Your Own Boss Workshop will provide the following:

  • An understanding of the motivations, barriers, considerations and benefits of Self Employment.
  • What you need to know about self-employment
  • An understanding of business planning and business finance
  • An understanding of what the next step is: ‘Are you ready to work on a business plan?’
  • Support available to get you started

Hina Joshi said: “These workshops will help people understand the many varied and complex elements that come with running a business and will help those thinking of making the transition into self-employment decide if it’s the right thing for them.”

For more information and to book visit: https://edbs.co.uk/edbs-workshops/

Engineering company aims to triple turnover after £3m contract wins

A SPECIALIST engineering company, which uses the latest industry technology to develop innovative energy efficient solutions, is aiming to treble turnover after securing over £3m of new contracts in 2021.

Burnopfield-based Electek Solutions Limited (ESL) has put in place ambitious growth plans which could see turnover increase from £1.1m in 2020 to between £3.5m and £4m by the end of March, 2022.

The growth forecasts have been boosted by several high profile business wins in 2021, including a £1.2m contract with Roomz Hotel at St James’ Court in Edinburgh, which will see ESL work the national chain to kit out the bedrooms with energy efficient heating and lighting solutions, and a £1.1m contract to support the build of 87 student apartments in Bradford.

The wins are alongside significant contracts the Hobson Industrial Estate company is already delivering for Bishop Auckland Hospital and the Borders Housing Association.

Managing director David Hutchinson, who launched the business in 2015 and now runs it with his partner Denise Gilligan, said: “It’s been a fantastic year for the business and it’s fair to say our growth has been more rapid than any of us expected.

“Our expertise in developing innovative cloud-based solutions for companies alongside the manufacture of energy efficient products which are essential in the construction of commercial and residential projects like those we’re delivering in Edinburgh and Bradford, have boosted our ability to secure large national contracts which should see the business achieve turnover of around £3.5m to £4m by the end of March next year.

“We’re now regarded as one of the leading companies within our industry and the challenge for us now is how we manage our rapid growth – recruiting the right people will certainly be key to that.”

Electek Solutions Limited specialises in cloud-based technology solutions which are installed by businesses to build up a picture of their energy and water consumption and identify where savings can be made.

ESL, which employs 25 people including two apprentice electricians and two graduate engineers, also manufactures energy efficient products including LED lighting, PV systems and eclipse electric and infrared heating.

The company was recently named ‘Consultancy of the Year’ at the North East Energy Efficiency Awards – the third year in a row the company has won the top gong– and finished in third place at the national finals which recognise companies which are adopting innovative approaches to energy efficiency.

David added: “When I started the business it was just me and I was working on a sub-contract basis for other companies in the industry. Now we’re a highly skilled team of 25 with further recruitment ongoing, and we’re directly and regularly securing £1m-plus contracts with some of the most established brands and construction companies nationally.

“This, along with our recent award win at the North East Energy Efficiency Awards, are testament to our position within our industry and the fantastic team we employ here.”

TMD Friction creates new Environment, Health and Safety team

THREE new appointments have been made to form a new dedicated Environment, Health and Safety team at TMD Friction in Hartlepool.

The team is spearheaded by manager Shaun Wilson, who joins the global automotive manufacturer from Caterpillar in Peterlee.

He was brought in to drive forward TMD Friction’s commitment to creating a safe and healthy environment for staff and to reduce the number of accidents on site which lead to lost time on the production line.

Shaun was also given the opportunity to cherry pick his own support, which led to the appointments of Rob Nicholson, whom Shaun worked with at Caterpillar, and Leanne Jones, who brings with her a wealth of industry experience and knowledge, having previously worked at KP Snacks.

The team will also support TMD Friction’s sites across the UK.

Shaun said: “I was brought into the business because TMD Friction wanted its UK sites to go on a journey across the health and safety spectrum. They wanted to create a team dedicated to this area, that could engage the workforce and ultimately make the plants a safer place to work for everyone.

“What we have initially focussed on is speaking with all teams within the business to get them bought into our aims and objectives. It really is about ownership and although my team is leading on this, we need the buy-in of everyone to achieve what we want to.

“We have also developed a three-year strategy, looking at preventing accidents through risk reduction with our main focus on critical life risks such as work at height, lock out tag out and mobile equipment and pedestrian interaction. Our slogan is ‘Say No To Risk’ and we want everyone to understand this – if any member of staff sees risk anywhere we want them to speak up.”

Since the team was launched, they have already reduced accidents across the Oakesway Industrial Estate plant by 29 per cent and cut the number of accidents which resulted in lost time from four to one.

TMD Friction manufactures brake pads for 95 per cent of the models of Europe’s aftermarket, including emergency services vehicles and many of the major distribution small trucks and vans.

The past 18 months have seen 52 new products introduced at Hartlepool and two new flagship customers added to TMD Friction’s portfolio of automotive manufacturers.

The company’s other UK sites in Elvington, Warrington and Cleckheaton have also benefited from investment to support operations at Hartlepool.

Tom Russell, UK Operations Manager, said: “Environment, Health and Safety has always been at the front and centre of everything we do at TMD Friction, however with the appointment of a dedicated team led by Shaun Wilson, we feel that we’re very much building for the future, our continued growth here in Hartlepool and working towards an accident-free site.

“We want every member of the team to feel completely safe when they come to work, but also feel confident enough to speak up if there is something they aren’t comfortable with. Because, ultimately, the safer the plant is the more productive we are and the happier our staff are when they come to work.”

Delanoy Funeral Services celebrate successful first year in business

A FUNERAL services company which launched during the coronavirus pandemic has marked the end of its first year in business with significant investment in a new Jaguar fleet of hearses.

John Delanoy and Julie Stout have also achieved their pledge to reinvest all money made during the first 12 months of running Delanoy Funeral Services back into the community.

The two East Durham entrepreneurs launched their business in August 2020 after being introduced by a mutual friend.

Although from very different backgrounds, John being the fifth generation of Delanoys to work for his family funeral business and Julie running her own successful company, Just Out Marketing, they felt there was potential to go into partnership together.

After several meetings to discuss their ideas, the pair decided that together they could revolutionise the way funerals were conducted, making a real difference to the experience families have as they prepare to lay their loved ones to rest – including the production of beautifully filmed and edited videos of the funeral, giving families a permanent and treasured keep-sake.

Julie said: “It’s hard to believe how quickly – and how well – the first year of running Delanoy Funeral Services has gone.

“At the start, we were determined that during our first year, any money we made would be re-invested back into the business, as we really wanted our business to be at the heart of the East Durham community.

“I’m so pleased to say we’ve achieved that. We’ve moved into a new head office in Peterlee, we’ve been able to invest in state-of-the-art editing equipment to enable us to produce even more emotive, high quality videos for those families that want them, and purchase a fleet including Jaguar hearses and limousines.

“We’re now looking ahead to the next 12 months and beyond and continuing to conduct individually tailored funerals for families across the area, giving their loved ones the send off they want and deserve.”

A lot of John and Julie’s ideas for the business came about during the peak of the pandemic, when so many people were unable to attend family members’ funerals. It also co-incided with a time when John was reviewing his own family business, which was launched in 1897, and was keen to freshen things up.

John, who has worked in the funeral business since the age of 16, said: “My family’s business was fully established in the area, however I felt it needed a fresh injection and new ideas, especially given the challenges that Covid-19 was presenting. The introduction to Julie came at the perfect time.

“With her fresh eyes and the re-brand to Delanoy Funeral Services, we looked at new ways for people to say goodbye whilst still using many old traditions which were at the heart of the business.

“We’re 14 months down the line now and it’s been a whirlwind year, not least because of the coronavirus pandemic which until very recently was still restricting the way we all lived and worked.

“But now we’re looking forward to continuing with our growth, supported by the investment Julie and I have made in the new hearse which means we can support even more families as they prepare to say their final farewell to loved ones.”

East Durham Business magazine: Seaham Hall Hotel spa review

Nearly two years after my last visit to the wonderful Seaham Hall Hotel – a real gem in the North East’s crown –  because of the coronavirus pandemic, it was with open arms and ready-to-be-pampered muscles that I returned for a much needed spa day.

This time around I was joined by my husband Paul, who was preparing to turn 40 three days after our visit (I’ll not say he was celebrating exactly, more reluctantly accepting of the milestone birthday)…

Anyone who knows me knows there are few things I enjoy more than a spa day.

I have been lucky enough to experience breaks in some beautiful locations, but right up there with my favourites is Seaham Hall Hotel – a mere 30 minutes’ drive from my home in Stainsby, Middlesbrough.

It’s a beautiful hotel and spa, located a stone’s throw from the Seaham coastline and is without doubt one of the region’s most luxurious facilities – with previous guests including Take That, Little Mix and a host of premier league footballers.

So whenever I am booked in for a visit, I know I am in for a real treat. A chance to drift away from the pressures of running a business and being mam to two kids (I’ll be getting wrong off my daughter Darcey right now for calling myself ‘mam’ rather than mum!) to indulge in a day of rest and relaxation, lovely food, a cheeky glass of wine and the highlight, an indulgent treatment.

For this latest visit my companion was my husband Paul, with the day being the start of a long weekend without the kids to mark his 40th birthday.

To say we were ready for it was an understatement – I think we can all agree it’s been a pretty torrid time since the coronavirus pandemic started in the early part of 2020 so a day of doing nothing except moving from lounger to pool to jacuzzi to restaurant was just what the doctor ordered.

The sun was shining too, which made the outdoor space that is a real added bonus at Seaham Hall even more appealing.

After having a nice swim in the indoor pool and a laze on one of the comfy beds, we headed to the external hot tubs for a chill in the warm July sunshine.

I cannot tell you how nice it felt – lying back with the sun on my face, my husband next to me, the bubbles massaging our weary bones. It was as if someone was telling us life was finally returning to normal and better times lay ahead.

When lunchtime came, we headed to the Ozone restaurant where we were treated to a two-course Asian fusion meal, with a bowl of prawn crackers as an introduction.

As we always do, Paul and I shared courses and our choices were, for starter, duck spring rolls and battered squid, both served with a light salad and a sweet chilli dipping sauce, while for mains we opted for king prawn red Thai curry with rice and sizzling beef with noodles. Drinks were a rioja for Paul and a sauvignon blanc for me.

Everything was cooked beautifully and tasted so fresh (you can actually see the chefs prepare the food which adds to the experience). Although it was a lot for lunchtime, being on a three-day ‘holiday’ meant we didn’t really care. It’s a tough life at times!

Afternoon saw us sample all of the spa’s facilities including the sauna, steam room, jacuzzi and even the freezing cold plunge pool – an interesting experience to say the least.

The final part of the day was, as it always is, the best: massage time. Included this time around was a 60-minute full body ishga massage. Ishga treatments combine the purest Scottish seaweed with natural spring water, which help create youthful, healthy and glowing skin – it was like they knew!

Sadly, the hour went much too quickly (time flies when you’re having fun as they say). I was in heaven and I didn’t want it to end. Every muscle seemed to drink in the oils that the masseuse used and I could feel the knots which I always have in my shoulders and back disappear.

My husband was equally complimentary about his experience – as someone who suffers with his back, he said the next few nights he slept the best he has for a long time, which he put down to the treatment.

It really was the perfect end to a fabulous day – and the perfect start to a long weekend which saw us heading across to Port Carlisle for a three-night break while our children were with their grandparents.

Now lockdown is over, I can rest safe in the knowledge that it won’t be 2023 when I’m next back to Seaham Hall for a spa break. In fact, I’m already planning my return with my usual spa companion, Danielle – we have both turned 40 this year after all so what better excuse than to treat ourselves to a day of doing nothing but relax and unwind!

Mullen Stoker on why businesses need to be prepared for Covid-19 changes

AFTER more than 18 months of hybrid working, most people are now back in the office.

But as the colder months loom, the Prime Minister Boris Johnson has confirmed switching to home working could be once again be a possibility.

And as Mullen Stoker director Gary Stoker explains, that’s why it’s more important than ever that businesses are prepared if Covid-19 cases surge and the Government is forced to act.

After more than a year and a half of home and flexible working, most people are now back in the office in some capacity.

And whilst right now life seems to be back to normal, the Prime Minister and his medical and scientific advisers have made it crystal clear that Covid-19 is very much still with us.

If the surge in cases over the winter months that caused lockdowns to be announced in November and January does happen, robust restrictions will once again be introduced.

That would most certainly include a work from home order for those that can.

Gary Stoker, founding director of Durham-based accountancy and IT firm Mullen Stoker, has worked with dozens of clients to improve their IT capabilities, enabling them to introduce flexible working to keep their businesses going.

Gary says it is essential employers are switched on to the benefits of having systems in place which mean should they have to, they are able to make the transition to remote working smoothly.

“During the first lockdown in particular, so many businesses were caught out by clunky and dated IT infrastructure and software which meant they couldn’t easily switch to home working.

“It resulted in many calling on our services to upgrade their systems so that their staff could safely and securely continue operating in exactly the same way as they would if they were in the office.

“Having this flexibility is essential for businesses that cannot afford unnecessary downtime.

“As the winter months loom, I’d urge any company that hasn’t put in place software which allows for off-site working to do so.

“The Prime Minister recently made it clear in his Plan-B strategy that if needed, businesses will be asked to once again work from home. Be prepared for this – this step is a far better option than a full lockdown so don’t be caught out.”

East Durham Business magazine: Editor’s introduction

A VERY warm welcome to issue six of East Durham Business magazine – our first issue out of lockdown for almost two years!

To say the past 18 months have been tough would be an understatement, however we are gradually seeing life return to normal.

Offices are once again a flurry of activity, businesses are well on the road to recovery and face to face engagement is possible once more.

Hurray – how we missed the every day things we all took for granted before the coronavirus pandemic struck.

Producing issue six of our flagship magazine has probably been the most enjoyable and we are so proud of the end result.

It’s probably our most diverse issue too, featuring businesses from a broad range of sectors and from around the region, not just East Durham, which we think is testament to just how much our magazine’s profile has grown since we launched it in the summer of 2019.

Cover stars are the team at Central Doorset Manufacturing, Peterlee’s newest resident.

The company relocated from Seaham to the former Dewhirst building earlier this year to facilitate ambitious growth plans – and in just six months the workforce has doubled in size.

We chat to directors Martyn Sandison and Scott McIlvaney to find out more about their move, their unique staff training and development programme and what the future holds.

Also featured in this issue are Delanoy Funeral Services, issue four’s cover stars, as we find out how the first 12 months in business have gone for owners John Delonoy and Julie Stout; and County Durham entrepreneur Keith Gill, one of the founders of the Phileas Fogg snack brand, who has penned the first chapter of his memoirs, Taking It Head On.

Other businesses and organisations that we shine the spotlight on are East Durham Business Service, The Wills Guys and the Sustainable Advanced Manufacturing programme.

One of the many benefits of being out of lockdown is that venues like Seaham Hall Hotel are back open for business – and I had no hesitation in taking up the chance to review the facilities on a spa day with my husband Paul which coincided nicely with his 40th birthday. Check out the At Your Leisure spread to see what we thought of our experience!

You’ll also see that from the packed news pages within the magazine that there is plenty of positivity out there, with many businesses reporting that not only is their covid recovery back on track but they are also now looking towards growth and expansion.

How welcome that is after months during the pandemic where many business owners questioned whether they would be able to survive.

As always, we welcome your feedback on our magazine so if you have any suggestions that could improve it, or want to get involved in issue seven, get in touch with me!

East Durham Business feature: Central Doorset Manufacturing

Earlier this year Central Doorset Manufacturing relocated its fast-growing business into the former Dewhirst building on the North West Industrial Estate in Peterlee.

Just seven months on, the company now employs 25 people and has smashed initial targets, putting it on track to achieve £4m turnover in 2022.

Editor Leanne Fawcett dropped in to find out more…

The former Dewhirst building in Peterlee has been an iconic facility in the town since the days when clothing manufacturing was the area’s bedrock industry, employing thousands of people.

However, in 2019 when then occupier Impressions Retail moved out, it became vacant and thus it remained until, with the help of Business Durham, Central Doorstep Manufacturing moved in.

The company was previously based at Seaham Grange Industrial Estate, however thanks to several national contract wins and growth which far exceeded expectations, founding directors Martyn Sandison and Scott McIlvaney decided to look at alternative premises.

The duo looked all over the region and at one point were considering a move out of County Durham to premises in Washington, however rates for property in the area were too high.

But when they stumbled upon the 25,000 sq ft building on Mill Hill, they knew it ticked all the boxes.

Director Martyn Sandison said: “Our move to Peterlee was driven purely and simply by growth.

“When we launched in 2018, Scott and I set what we though were realistic projections. However, by the end of year one we were manufacturing four times as many doorsets as we expected and we realised that at the rate we were growing, our existing premises at Seaham Grange Industrial Estate would quickly reach capacity.

“We started looking at alternative facilities and found the former Dewhirst building, which was standing empty. The space was perfect and a subsequent conversation with Business Durham identified that our move could be supported by a grant from the County Durham Growth Fund.

“We were lucky enough to secure £70,000 which was a massive help and in February we moved in.”

The building required a significant amount of work to fit it out ready for the Central Doorset Manufacturing team to move in, however because of circumstances including several members of staff testing positive for Covid-19, the move was fast-tracked and in February they moved in.

Since then, Martyn, Scott and the supporting management team including Billy Qualie, James Smith and Stuart White have worked around the clock, installing LED lighting throughout the building, knocking down offices and rebuilding them, creating a new boardroom and building desks with the wood left over from the doorsets. They also have plans to create a customer showroom in the coming months.

So, despite the challenges brought about by the coronavirus pandemic, which included a three-month lockdown at the start of 2021, how are things going for the team?

Martyn added: “Things couldn’t be better really.

“We have a full order book for the rest of the year and that’s in large part down to word of mouth.

“Since the Grenfell disaster, there is a high demand for fully certified doorsets. Thanks to our strong supply chain, we are securing big contracts with construction companies that are leading on rebuilding and redesign, and in this new facility, we can actively target the larger contracts which previously would have been unrealistic.

“I think it’s also fair to say that we have benefited from the fact that some businesses haven’t been able to survive the coronavirus pandemic, so their customers have come to us.

“This has resulted in our workforce doubling from 12 to 25 since February with further recruitment ongoing through the rest of 2021.

“As things stand, we have the capacity to produce around 450 doorsets per week and we are currently operating at around 60 per cent of that, so there’s definitely scope to grow.”

Central Doorset Manufacturing makes timber fire rated doorsets, internal doorsets and security doorsets for the health and education sectors, the MOD and HMP, as well as care homes, residential properties, and hospitals.

Scott McIlvaney, who manages Central Doorset Manufacturing’s sale team, which is based in Scotland, said: “Our customer portfolio is growing rapidly but we know we still have the capacity to bring in more work.

“Our sales team are looking for opportunities up and down the country and we are confident that over the coming months we’ll be successful in securing more contracts.

“That means that if we’re to achieve our ambitions of taking growth from £2.3m this year to £4m next year, we’ll also have to recruit the right sort of people. That in itself is a challenge as we want to bring in those people who share our vision for the future – the reward is those people will be given the opportunity to progress through the business and really forge a successful career for themselves.”

Central Doorset Manufacturing’s commitment to its staff means that every member of the team is going through an apprenticeship, with the level depending on their experience and role within the business.

It’s a policy that has proved effective for Martyn and Scott, giving them the opportunity to determine where best each employee sits, and also for the individual to play to their own strengths and passions.

Martyn added: “Unlike many other employers who recruit for the apprenticeship, we do things the other way round. We recruit the person first, then put them through six months of internal training before identifying where they fit best in the business and therefore which apprenticeship is best for them.

“It means we’re not wasting time putting people through apprenticeships that won’t be completed or aren’t right, and for the individual this process gives them the chance to train in an area that they genuinely enjoy.

“It’s such an exciting time for the business and we are all relishing our development and growth here in Peterlee.”

TMD Friction apprentices on the right track for permanent careers

THREE young apprentices are working towards potential careers with TMD Friction after being given the opportunity to learn while they earn.

The global automotive manufacturer, which has its only UK production facility in Hartlepool, has been making parts for the passenger car aftermarket since 1974 and now employs 449 people in the North East.

The recruitment of apprentices is a key element of the company’s succession planning strategy and through its close working partnership with Hartlepool College of Further Education, regularly looks to bring fresh new talent into the business.

The current tranche of maintenance apprentices are Jonny Davison, Jack Fallow and Stephen Smailes, with the later joining the company in February.

Jonny Davison, from Seaton Carew, spent time on work experience with the Oakesway Trading Estate employer before being offered a position on a Level 4 mechatronic engineering apprenticeship. The 20-year-old recently completed the qualification and is now undertaking a NVQ Level 2 in electrical and mechanical engineering, after which he will complete a year of on-the-job training to learn all the skills needed to secure a permanent position with the company.

Jonny said: “I am really enjoying my job. I love getting up every day and feel like I am learning so many different things. I am determined to do well and take the chances that come my way.”

Jack Fallow, 19, from Castle Eden is halfway through his four-year apprenticeship after which he will undertake a HNC qualification to equip him with the educational skills he needs to secure a future with TMD Friction.

He said: “I have been given a great opportunity with TMD and I am working so hard to prove myself. It’s a great company to work for and I feel everyone has really supported me during my apprenticeship.”

Stephen is the newest of the three to join the maintenance team. He was studying at Hartlepool College when they put him forward for a Level 3 engineering apprenticeship, which he started in February.

The 19-year-old, who lives in Hartlepool said: “I still feel very new to the business, so I am constantly learning and know there is so much to take on board. I love it though and really like the people I work with, who have helped me settle in so quickly.”

TMD Friction, which manufactures brake pads for 95 per cent of the models of Europe’s aftermarket, including emergency services vehicles and many of the major distribution small trucks and vans, moved to its current base on Oakesway Trading Estate in 1998.

The past 15 months have seen 52 new products introduced at Hartlepool and two new flagship customers added to TMD Friction’s portfolio of automotive manufacturers.

The company’s other UK sites in Elvington, Warrington and Cleckheaton have also benefited from investment to support operations at Hartlepool.

Jenny Wright, UK HR Manager at TMD Friction, said: “Attracting a mix of young talent and experienced personnel are absolutely critical to our long-terms plans for growth.

“We are delighted with the progress that Jack, Jonny and Stephen are making with us. I am certain they will prove themselves during their apprenticeships and training periods and there is no reason why they cannot go on to secure permanent positions with the company.”

TMD Friction employs a number of apprentices across the business.