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Partnership-driven growth for Peterlee’s portable powerhouse

As the North East Fastest 50 Awards returns for its 22nd year, we talk to Mark Rutherford, managing director of the winner of the Large and Overall business categories, Alexander Technologies Europe.

Peterlee is a County Durham town best known for its coal mining past but, today, it’s home to some of Europe’s most innovative and progressive businesses including international battery maker and exporter Alexander Technologies Europe. The company, which has just been named the Overall Fastest Growing Business in this year’s Fastest 50 list, designs and manufactures customised rechargeable battery packs for a wide range of industries.

“When it comes to our success, it’s been our relationships – and how we’ve taken care of them – that’s given us that extra dimension,” said Mark Rutherford, managing director of Alexander Technologies. “Whether it’s with our people, our customers, supply chain partners or investors, we’ve nurtured and nourished these relationships and followed a partnership-centric approach which has supported our growth.”

And growing is certainly what Alexander Technologies has mastered. In the last three years, bolstered by investment from a £9.2million management buyout as well as grant support from County Durham Growth Fund, revenue has increased by 400% to £46million per year. The business has built a state-of-the art 58,000 square foot manufacturing facility and, in turn, production capacity has increased by over 350%. Since 2018, Alexander Technologies has boosted its export of manufactured products to the US by 78%, an increase of 18% in just 12 months.

Mark explained: “Our success is down to having a skilled and productive workforce, first class facilities, supply chain resiliency and quality customer service. These haven’t been achieved easily. They’ve resulted from having in place strong and defined foundations that are focused on relationships and the development of key partnerships. People ask; are you not worried about the global shortages? What about the ‘Great Resignation’ with people leaving their jobs in droves? Aren’t you anxious about staying competitive? The answer is always the same: No, because we have the right relationships that I have total confidence in and trust.”

Alexander Technologies has taken the time to do what many growing organisations don’t. The leadership team has created a clear strategy with key value propositions and ensured everyone involved with the business understands the business goals and, crucially, what their contribution is. Because of this, the company has reaped the rewards of what it’s sowed.

Supply chain resiliency, for example, is a fundamental business value. The business has been able to leverage its strong relationships with suppliers and logistics partners to enable it to deliver products on time to aggressive, ever-changing customer schedules.

“Because of the strength and depth of partnerships with local, national and global partners, we’re agile enough to meet continued demand despite the highly volatile battery supply chain. Speed to market is vital to our customers who need prototype and production products turned around quickly. We’ve developed a rapid response programme based on automotive techniques meaning we can deliver high quality, customised products in weeks and months, rather than months and years.”

Shard Credit Partners, who financed the 2019 management buyout that’s been a real turning point in Alexander Technologies’ growth, is a very active institutional investor in the North East. It has led similar management buyouts in recent years including those with Hebburn-based eQuality Solutions and GadCap Technical Solutions, a nuclear and aerospace engineering firm in Washington.

Rob Eldon, Managing Associate at Ward Hadaway, said: “Not only is Alexander Technologies testament to the innovation and expertise that we can be so proud of as a region, the company also demonstrates how greatness can be achieved through a simple, but strong and consistent strategy. A strategy that puts relationships at the heart of everything it does but also takes advantage of investment opportunities at the right moment. It’s fantastic news that Alexander Technologies has won Ward Hadaway’s highly competitive Overall Fastest Growing Business Award – Mark and his team epitomise the values many businesses need to commercially succeed and prosper.”

With an expanding, highly skilled workforce that’s grown considerably in the last three years, Alexander Technologies continues to invest in and develop its people to proactively manage the increasingly tough challenges the industry is facing.

Mark added: “We’re essentially people-led and that’s why we’ve been able to achieve what we have. With our team, customers, and partners, we give back as much as we get. We upskill, we adapt to our customers’ needs responsively and our supply chain partnerships are long-lasting and mutually beneficial. In a nutshell, our success comes from a partnership-focused ethos where people come before products.”

Please note that this briefing is designed to be informative, not advisory and represents our understanding of English law and practice as at the date indicated. We would always recommend that you should seek specific guidance on any particular legal issue.

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