Seaham technology firm among sponsors of North East Automotive Alliance Awards

In recognition of the transformational change in staff development, wellbeing and community involvement, Sunderland-based, Faltec Europe, won Employer of the Year at the North East Automotive Alliance (NEAA) Annual Awards.

The company, which produces metal and plastic trim products and employs 320 staff, also received £2,000 which it will donate to a school of its choice with an emphasis on teaching pupils coding. In total, the award winners of all categories will give £16,500 to future talent, schools and STEM related programmes.

Hosted by national journalist and campaigner, Charlie Charlton, 300 guests were taken through eight categories, with Vantec Europe having double success in the Digital Transformation and Outstanding Contribution categories, the latter of which went to its managing director, Martin Kendall. It will donate £4,000 to Washington Academy.

Seaham company Smart Manufacturing Solutions was among the sponsors.

The awards celebrated future talent, inspirational leaders and forward-thinking businesses who are cementing their position within the automotive industry.

So impressive were the entries, that judges added a Highly Commended in the Multinational category of the Innovation Award, sponsored by Newcastle University.

Paul Butler, chief executive of the NEAA, said: “This was a spectacular evening that shone a light on the amazing companies that make the automotive supply chain the dynamic, innovative and forward-looking sector that it is. More than that, it also reminded us in the most powerful way that, while technology plays an increasingly important role in all that we do, it is people that make our sector what it is.

“This was brought to life in remarkable style by the career journey outlined by Martin Kendall, managing director of Vantec Europe who won the Outstanding Contribution Award.

“Martin told us that he arrived in South Shields as a 17-year-old with £40 and an O Level in woodwork. He worked on the shopfloor at Nissan as a forklift driver and, eventually, became managing director of Vantec Europe, a preferred third-party logistics provider, with 12 operations in the UK and a key customer base including automotive and premium vehicles. Quite a remarkable life journey that oozes resilience, perseverance, belief, humility and self-confidence.”

Martin Kendall, managing director, at Vantec Europe Limited said: “I was very surprised and humbled but delighted to receive the Outstanding Contribution Award. I have had an amazing career in the advanced manufacturing, automotive and logistics industry having started at Ford Aerospace in Tyne Dock, followed by 16 years at Nissan and 22 years, and counting, at Vantec Europe Limited.

“For me, it’s always been about the people at Vantec Europe, at every level from the shop floor, our apprentices, through to senior management, making sure we can deliver what our partners require. I’m a forklift truck driver by trade and very proud of it. Every single person is important and I’m passionate about getting the right people with the right attitude into the sector. They are the ones going to make a difference in the future.

“I can’t champion the North East and the people enough and how worldwide renowned, the region is. From the day I arrived, I was made welcome, and I’ve met some great people from all walks of life. I have colleagues from my early career who have helped me and still help me today, through partnerships and collaboration.

“I’m an adopted Sanddancer, I arrived in the North East as a young 16-year-old boy, but I was made a man in the North East. It’s been a pleasure for me, an absolute pleasure.”

The inspiring work undertaken by the management team at Faltec Europe to develop a truly transformational people development programme is setting the company up perfectly for future growth but, most of all, shows that it truly values and cares for its staff.

Bruce Mair, human resources and general affairs manager, at Faltec Europe, said: “We already had a very high retention rate, with the average length of service standing at 12.5 years. However, we wanted to be a better employer, to put real focus on the most important area of our business – our people. The senior management team was absolutely committed to taking our engagement with colleagues to a much higher level and be a stand-out, Tier 1, employer.

“The platform for this was consultation, every step of the way, with colleagues to establish core values – integrity, innovation, collaboration, respect and resilience – that we all signed up to and which guide every interaction we have with colleagues, suppliers, customers and wider stakeholders. We constantly review where we are and challenge whether our behaviours are in line with our values.

“To really show how important our colleagues are, the management team also recognised the importance of recognition, reward, respect, team resilience and high-quality engagement.

“This culture change is manifested in many initiatives including promoting heathy eating, training and development programmes, long service awards, wellbeing activities, stress awareness and mental health. We have a quiet room for contemplation or multifaith use, our maternity policy is full pay for six-months and there are increasing opportunities, depending on your role, for flexible and hybrid working.

“In terms of colleague development, we have working relationships with many of the region’s colleges and universities, our people have embraced training, mentoring, learning and coaching programmes and we currently have 17 colleagues enrolled on either senior leadership apprenticeships, degree apprenticeships or other learning, with one colleague undertaking a Doctorate in Business Administration.

“We believe that getting better never stops and that we are on a journey of continuous improvement, in the knowledge that, whilst there is still much to do, we have transformed our business and our people.”

The full list of winners and sponsors are:-

Geoff Ford MBE Apprentice Award, sponsored by Gateshead College

  • Megan Gorman – Unipres (UK) Limited

Graduate Award, sponsored by Marelli

  • Nathan Tshibuyi – Nissan Motor Manufacturing UK

Innovation Award, sponsored by Newcastle University

  • Multinational:
    • Komatsu UK Ltd
  • Highly Commended:
    • Marelli
  • SME:
    • Charpak Ltd

Digital Transformation Award, sponsored by NA College

  • Vantec Europe Limited

Environmental & Sustainability Award, sponsored by Nissan Motor Manufacturing UK

  • Multinational:
    • Lear Sunderland
  • SME:
    • Houghton International

Employer of the Year Award, sponsored by Invest South Tyneside

  • Faltec Europe Limited

SME of the Year Award, sponsored by North East Institute of Technology (NEIoT)

  • CMYK Digital Solutions Limited

Outstanding Contribution Award, sponsored by Sunderland City Council

  • Martin Kendall, Managing Director at Vantec Europe

A drinks reception was sponsored by Smart Manufacturing Solutions and SMS Technology and the awards brochure sponsor was Horizon Works.