Skip to content

News stories

The power helping to drive the Fastest 50

COMPANIES in the offshore industry are helping to power the North East's economy and have helped to drive the Ward Hadaway Fastest 50 throughout its 16-year history.

The region’s strengths in that sector are a key factor in the North East’s economic recovery and the offshore industry’s fortunes are a vital part of the regional economy’s continued growth.

As the countdown continues to the Fastest 50 awards for 2014, when the fastest growing companies in the North-East will be revealed, a look back at the event’s history shows how frequently the offshore industry has supplied the leading companies.

As well as listing the 50 fastest growing businesses in the region every year, the Ward Hadaway Fastest 50 also gives out awards to those companies which have achieved the biggest rises in their turnover in recent years.

Each year, awards are given to the fastest growing small business, fastest growing medium-sized business and fastest growing large business as well as an award for the overall fastest growing business.

No fewer than 10 of these Fastest 50 award winners over the years have been businesses operating in the offshore sector with a number of other winners having strong links to the industry.

Indeed, offshore companies won Fastest 50 awards every year from 2006 to 2012, a hugely impressive run which also demonstrates the resilience of businesses in the sector as they continued to make profits and grow their turnovers during the financial crisis and the resulting global recession.

This success is also not a recent phenomenon.

In the very first Fastest 50 awards in 1998, the overall winner was Wallsend-based Armstrong Technology Associates, a company formed by members of the design team at the Swan Hunter shipyard and which had grown sales on the back of contract wins in the offshore industry.

That year also saw a Newcastle company called Bywell Holdings win the award for fastest growing large business. Remarkably, 11 years later Bywell Holdings – now known as SMD – was crowned the fastest growing large business and fastest growing overall business in the 2009 Fastest 50 Awards for its expansion.

SMD is one of the world’s leading specialists in designing and manufacturing remotely-operated subsea vehicles, used across the globe in the offshore oil and gas industries, submarine telecoms sector and oceanographic research.

Fast forward a further five years from 2009 to the most recent Fastest 50 and SMD is in the rankings once more – a quite amazing achievement.

As well as Armstrong Technology Associates and SMD, the offshore sector has supplied four other overall winners in the Ward Hadaway Fastest 50 Awards over the years – The Engineering Business in 2007, Fast Temp Engineering in 2008, Wilton Engineering Services in 2010 and IKM Testing in 2012 – making it unquestionably the most successful sector in the event’s history.

Colin Hewitt, Partner and Head of Commercial at Ward Hadaway, said: “It is no exaggeration to say that the North East is home to truly world-class companies in the offshore sector and this is demonstrated time and time again in the Fastest 50.

“The region’s capabilities and know-how in this growing industry means that our top businesses are in demand from major players around the world – as we at Ward Hadaway know from our work advising many companies involved in the offshore sector.

“As a result, expertise developed in the North East is used in projects across the globe and this is reflected in the continued presence of offshore companies in the Fastest 50 over the years – and their extremely impressive track record in Fastest 50 award wins.

“Whether the offshore sector can continue its winning run in the 2014 awards will be very interesting to see when we reveal this year’s award winners later this month.”

The A-Z list of this year’s Fastest 50 companies – compiled by independent researchers from St Chad’s College/Durham Business School –  can be seen by clicking here.

Next Friday (October 10) representatives from the Fastest 50 companies, alongside business leaders, will gather at Baltic in Gateshead where the winners of the 2014 Fastest 50 Awards will be announced by BBC Breakfast business reporter Steph McGovern.