It’s all change at Northern Machine Tools (NMT) where Barney Ord – one of the grand old men of Teesside industry – is handing over the reins after 50 years in charge to right-hand man Robert Cockerill.
One of the UK’s largest machine tool merchants, Middlesbrough-based NMT launched in 1958, initially as a marine engineering business before moving into the machine tool industry five years later. They now boast extensive showroom and workshop facilities, extending to 40,000 square feet.
Robert, who moved to Teesside at the turn of the millennium after many years with NMT subsidiary Thompson Machine Tools of Sheffield, succeeds Barney as chief executive officer from his previous position as works director.
At the grand old age of 7?, Barney is stepping back from day-to-day involvement with NMT and its parent company, Fairfield Industries, where he is the long-standing chairman.
Fairfield Industries is part of the John Livingstone and Sons Ltd – one of Middlesbrough’s oldest businesses, founded in 1853 – and acquired by the Ord family in 1967.
Looking forward to his retirement, Barney said: “I’m delighted to be handing over day-to-day operations to Robert and know the business will be in safe hands under his stewardship.
“I believe I’m making the right decision at the right time. When your right-hand man knows more about the business than you do you know it’s time to give him full control!”
One of Robert’s key responsibilities in his new role with NMT is further developing lotsurf.com, one of the country’s leading industrial auctioneering websites and the only such business on Teesside.
CNC (computer numerical control) machines, fabricating and welding equipment, farming machine tools and industrial machinery of all sizes all go under the proverbial hammer via a site that attracts worldwide visitors.
While 50% of sales are UK-based, recent purchases have come from Australia, Malaysia, USA and even Barbados!
Robert says: “We’re constantly updating the software and getting feedback to make the site as efficient and user-friendly as possible, both for the consumer and for us as business.
“We have many loyal customers across the world. Once a buyer has bought from us, they’ll keep coming back because our service levels are second to none.”