Client News

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:

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.”

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 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.”

EDBS welcomes four new tenants to Novus Business Centre

SUPPORT organisation East Durham Business Service has welcomed four new tenants to Novus Business Centre.

Team Evolve, Claire McPhail Counselling, Galaxy Letts and East Durham Counselling have all moved into the Peterlee facility, which provides office space to new and growing businesses.

Although the organisation has faced a tough 18 months brought about by the coronavirus pandemic, Novus Business Centre is currently home to more tenants than it has been since 2018 and is targeting full occupancy in the coming months.

Stuart Allan, project director at property development consultancy Team Evolve, said: “Our business is growing across the region, and we felt Novus Business Centre was ideally located for us to service our vast portfolio of clients. We know there’s also the option of moving into bigger space when the time is right.”

Claire McPhail, 44, relocated her business from home to her first office space just last month. She said: “I branched out into private practice this year and as my client base quickly grew I needed the flexibility of my own space where I could conduct the sessions.

“I had a look around the area and the space at Novus Business Centre was perfect for what I needed. The building is light and bright and has the relaxed feel I know my clients want.”

Natalie Holmes from East Durham Counselling added: “The facilities provided at Novus are ideal for counselling – professional, private and easy to access. It’s a great atmosphere to work in. My business is going from strength to strength. It’s wonderful to be able to support people through these difficult times.”

As well as the business facilities offers at Novus, East Durham Business Service also provides support to budding entrepreneurs who have ambitions to move into self-employment and works with growing SMEs which are looking to develop their business.

Denise Fielding, Operations Director at East Durham Business Service, said: “There’s no denying it’s been a tough 18 months for the business community but there is a real feeling now that we’re through the worst of it and companies are looking ahead to a more positive future.

“In the past few months, we’ve welcomed another four new tenants to Novus Business Centre, all of whom see our building as the perfect environment to grow.

“We’re incredibly passionate about nurturing new starts from launch and helping established businesses through their journey and we hope to welcome even more ambitious individuals and SMEs to Novus as we work towards full occupancy.”

The new-start support offered by East Durham Business Service is through the Enterprise Support in the North East programme through the European Regional Development Fund.

Phileas Fogg entrepreneur Keith pens his own memoirs

NORTH East entrepreneur Keith Gill, one of the founders of the snack brand Phileas Fogg, has written his memoirs, detailing his life and career spanning five decades.

The memoirs are in two parts.

Taking It Head On: Memoirs of a County Durham Miner’s Son is Part 1 and was penned during the months of lockdown. Keith started practicing his writing over a decade ago through travellogs, blogs and Facebook posts.

The 70-year-old, who is Durham born and bred, now spends his time running a luxury bed and breakfast, The Old Post Office in Lanchester, with his wife Pauline.

However, it is his involvement in the creation of the Phileas Fogg snack brand – which transformed the adult snack market and put Consett, where the brand was created and developed, on the map – for which he is best known.

Boosted by memorable TV advertising campaigns, some of which included the fictional Consett International Airport and Punjab Airways, Phileas Fogg became a household staple thanks to its ‘grown up’ textures and flavours which gave consumers a taste of the world.

A decade after founding it, Keith Gill and his business partners sold the business in a multi-million-pound deal.

Keith said: “I had thought about writing a book for many years and had actually done a fair bit of work on it in stages but never got round to completing it. During lockdown, when the B&B was forced to close, I had more spare time so decided to make it my project. At that stage it was something to keep me occupied and the plan was the finished book was something my family and I could enjoy.

“However, word started spreading that I was penning my memoirs and friends and acquaintances got in touch to see if they could get a copy when it was finished. That’s when I decided to make it a proper published book which would be available to buy.

“I must admit it was a nerve-wracking experience. As a first-time writer my biggest concern was the quality of my work, but the early drafts received positive feedback, so I carried on.

“Throughout the writing of the book, I was so disciplined, setting myself targets for how many words I wanted to draft each week, and speaking to friends and family to make sure everything I was recollecting was accurate.”

Keith drew on the support of his Phileas Fogg and Tudor Crisps business partner Roger McKechnie to ensure the details of their time together were correct – they were, because as Keith says he has “been blessed with a good memory”.

Taking It Head On: Memoirs of a County Durham Miner’s Son, details Keith’s journey from his birth at Dryburn Hospital in Durham; his childhood growing up in villages across County Durham; and his school and college years.

Keith also relives his first steps into employment and being selected by betting company Ladbrokes for a six-week ‘schooling’ programme, which saw him finish third of 200 recruits nationally and be put through a management training programme.

Finally in 1977 Keith started at Tudor Crisps in Peterlee, which as he recalls was a ‘wow’ moment when he eventually discovered marketing and it discovered him. Keith worked for the company until 1982 when he left and it was from here that the Phileas Fogg journey began.

Keith added: “Penning my memoirs has been such a terrific experience for me. I am fortunate and blessed to have had some great support along the way, which has certainly helped me as it’s up there with the hardest things I’ve done.

“I just used Amazon as it mitigates the upfront costs but have been delighted with the reviews and 5 star ratings achieved in the first 6 weeks of the launch and appear to have found my ‘writing voice’

“If my entrepreneurial journey can inspire and enthuse the next generation, who can see that anything is possible with hard work and determination, then I will be even more proud to have helped but my proudest achievement is having helped create over 400 jobs and livelihoods for families across both parts of my overall journey in my native North East”.

TMD Friction donates £1,000 to Warrington hospice to mark H&S milestone

TMD Friction in Warrington has donated £1,000 to St Rocco’s Hospice as it marks a major health and safety milestone.

The site has recorded 1,000 days without any time being lost to accidents and as a thank you the company agreed to make the cash donation to a charity chosen by the employees on site.

They chose the hospice, which provides round the clock care to patients who have incurable and terminal illnesses, as many have had direct or indirect support from the facility.

Colin Andrews, Logistics Manager at TMD Friction’s Warrington facility, believes the site’s success in achieving the health and safety milestone is down to the commitment and work ethic of the 34 staff who work there.

Colin, who has been with the company for 38 years, said: “It really is a fantastic achievement to reach 1,000 days without losing any time due to accidents and the credit has to go to the team on site, who pride themselves on their high standards and organisation throughout the site.

“Health and safety is something we take incredibly seriously – for us it’s not just about what needs to be done, but the added extras that we can introduce which ensure that this site maintains our impeccable health and safety record – for example we’ve added safety features onto our fleet of forklift trucks, which isn’t a legal requirement, and our supplier tells us we’re the only customer in the UK that has done this. That’s something we’re so very proud of.

“When we reached the 1,000 days milestone and the company said they would recognise this achievement with a £1,000 donation to a charity of our choice, the guys straight away chose St Rocco’s Hospice in Warrington.

“It’s a charity we have supported in the past and one which not only provides a fantastic service to people across our community but one which means so much to the staff here – many of whom have friends or family members that have received care from the dedicated team there.”

A spokeswoman for St Rocco’s Hospice welcomed the donation from TMD Friction, as the hospice relies in large part to donations and fundraising campaigns. She said: “We are incredibly grateful to TMD Friction for their very generous donation.

“Donations like this are vital in us maintaining the high quality of care we are able to provide to our patients, and the support we can offer to their families. Thank you to the staff at TMD for choosing to support St Rocco’s Hospice, and we congratulate them on the health and safety milestone they’ve achieved.”

TMD Friction’s Warrington warehouse opened in 1993, originally supplying parts to depots around the country. Today it is a central distribution hub for the UK, servicing around 400 customers.

Tom Russell, UK Operations Manager at TMD Friction, said: “The guys at Warrington have worked so hard to ensure they maintain incredibly high health and safety standards, going over and above what’s required and expected to introduce systems and processes which are being highlighted across the group as models of best practice.”