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REVEALED: Results of our annual poll on Tees region’s most inspiring business leaders…

It’s the results of our annual poll that always create a stir among the thriving Tees business scene – and we have a third different winner in three years.

We asked Tees business leaders to vote for their local counterparts who most inspire them.

Votes were received for almost 100 different businesspeople, all creating inspiration in their own ways.

Here’s our countdown of the top 10 (figures in brackets indicate position in 2017)…

10th (New Entry into Top 10)
FRANS CALJE
PD Ports, Middlesbrough
It says much for the impact Calje is having in his role as chief executive officer of PD Ports that he’s made our top 10 having been appointed only at the start of last year. The Dutchman now counts himself as an adopted Teessider, having joined PD Ports’ senior executive team 10 years ago.
Having started his career in Rotterdam, he gained experience in Europe and the USA before moving to Teesside. He was instrumental in the successful strategic transformation of Teesport’s container platform, which has led to consistent positive growth in container volumes through the acquisition of new business, affirming PD Ports’ position as a leading player in UK portcentric logistics.

9th (New Entry)
KATY PARKINSON & CLAIRE PRESTON
Sound Training, Middlesbrough
This dynamic duo fly the flag for female business leaders as the first of seven women in our top 30, a big step-up from last year’s disappointing showing of just three. Formerly employed within Middlesbrough Council’s education authority, Parkinson developed a unique teaching programme, Lexonik, that improves literacy levels and life outcomes, while her fellow director Preston has been the driving force in expanding the company to now employ around 100 teaching and administrative staff across the country from their base in Boho Four. After much success in the UK, they’ve now made a breakthrough in the USA and the Far East.

8th (New Entry)
KARL PEMBERTON
Active Chartered Financial Planners, Stockton
Pemberton returned to the family financial firm when his father was ill and has been the driving force behind transforming Active from a small concern to a fast-growing institution that works with high-wealth individuals and thriving businesses across Teesside, the North-East and Yorkshire.
Recently returned from a second excursion to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro.

7th (7th)
ALASTAIR POWELL
Cleveland Cable Company, Middlesbrough
Where would Powell finish on this list if he had the same profile as some of the others? Instead, he shuns publicity, preferring to keep out of the spotlight and let his company’s hugely impressive figures do all the talking. He set up Cleveland Cable Company in 1978 with brother Michael and they’ve made it the UK’s largest cable distributor. The firm’s latest annual results revealed profits to April 2017 surged 144% to £28m on sales of £251m.
Topping all Teessiders in the Sunday Times Rich List, Powell also owns the Keys bar, restaurant and nightclub in Yarm.

6th (6TH)
STEVE COCHRANE MBE
Psyche, Middlesbrough
Received an MBE earlier this year in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for his services to the economy and regeneration in Middlesbrough. A former ICI engineer and North Sea rigger, Cochrane has created a retail phenomenon since setting up his first designer shop in 1982. His chain of iconic boutique stores on Linthorpe Road, the Cleveland Centre and now Durham were recently named by GQ magazine as one of the top 26 menswear stores in the country.

5th (5th)
GARY DAWSON
AV Dawson, Middlesbrough
Dawson has been the spearhead of family-run freight logistics giant AV Dawson since succeeding his father Maurice as managing director in 2000. Now celebrating 80 years since grandfather Arthur Vernon Dawson set up the company, the Middlesbrough firm boasts one of the largest independent rail terminals in the North of England while it is also the main distribution hub for the supply of steel coils from TATA into Nissan’s Sunderland factory.

4th (2nd)
STEVE GIBSON OBE
Bulkhaul, Middlesbrough
Our runaway 2016 winner, Gibson’s name will be forever linked with Middlesbrough FC, as its chairman and owner for the past 25 years.
Often called the best chairman in football, Gibson has continued to back the club since its glory days of Carling Cup success and the UEFA Cup final, despite ongoing struggles to get back into the Premier League.
Bulkhaul, the Middlesbrough-headquartered firm he set up with the help of a £1,000 loan from his father, is a leader in the field of international tank container services, specialising in transporting chemicals around the world. The firm also has bases in mainland Europe, USA, Brazil, Japan, South Korea and Singapore.

3rd (3rd)
ANDY PRESTON
Teesside Philanthropic Foundation
Middlesbrough Voted in our top three for a third successive year, Preston is the man who has inspired more than 40 local businesses and wealthy individuals to band together to create charity Teesside Philanthropic Foundation, raising more than £2.5m since 2011.
The Middlesbrough-born former hedge
fund manager very nearly became the town’s elected mayor a few years ago but instead continues to focus on his charity and business interests. Along with running CEO Sleepout, the charity that convinces business leaders across the country to sleep rough to fight poverty and homelessness, he is the driving force behind restaurant, The Fork in the Road.
His latest project is Level Q, redeveloped Stockton office accommodation he says will be the most prestigious on Teesside.

2nd (1st)
BILL SCOTT
Wilton Engineering, Port Clarence
He has to settle for second spot after topping our poll in 2017, but the last 12 months have been phenomenal for Middlesbrough-born Scott, whose Wilton Engineering firm has been reborn at the heart of the offshore wind revolution.
After suffering a significant dip after the downturn in the oil sector, Wilton Engineering has bounced back by diversifying into the offshore sector. With Scott as the driving force, they’ve already completed construction of more than 20 massive transition pieces – nicknamed Big Yellow Things – for Hornsea One, the UK’s largest offshore wind project.
Each weighs 240 tons, around three times as heavy as a space shuttle.
And Scott, who gives up much of his spare time for talks in local schools, has also inspired a major report, Winning Locally, Going Global, that saw Sir Michael Fallon make major recommendations to the government about the future of the country’s offshore wind sector.

1st (New Entry)
BEN HOUCHEN
Tees Valley Mayor
Just 12 months ago, Houchen didn’t make our top 30. One year on and he narrowly beat Bill Scott to the top spot. It says much for the impact he has had since becoming the surprise Tory winner in the race to become the first Tees Valley mayor.
As chairman of the Tees Valley Combined Authority, Houchen has a long-term plan for job creation, growth and investment, with ambitions to deliver 25,000 new jobs to the region by 2026.
He believes the South Tees Development Corporation site on the former SSI steelworks, near Redcar, can attract thousands of jobs and billions of pounds of investment, while he says he is making progress towards his promise to buy back Durham Tees Valley Airport.
Perhaps the biggest driver in topping our poll is that Houchen has connected with the Tees region’s business leaders in a way that no other politician has previously even attempted, bringing hope, belief and inspiration to companies and business owners at a time of wider uncertainty.

THE REST OF YOUR TOP 30 MOST INSPIRING TEES BUSINESSPEOPLE
(in no particular order)
Jane Turner / Teesside University
Ian Wardle / Thirteen
Sharon Lane / Tees Components
Kevin Brennan / Quorn Foods
Vicki Jackson-Smith / JB Recycling
Chris Fraser / Sirius Minerals
Cathal Doocey / CPD Bodies
Amanda Gardiner / Durham Lifting
Steve Bagshaw / Fujifilm Diosynth Technologies
Duncan Bannatyne / Bannatyne Group
Ken Devereux / Devereux Transport
Charles Clinkard / Charles Clinkard
Dean Benson / Visualsoft
Alastair Waite / Altrelli
Barney Ord / Fairfield Industries
Mike Matthews / Nifco
Garry Lofthouse / Applied Integration
Zoe Lewis / Middlesbrough College
Chris Petty / Cornerstone Business Solutions
Kevin Byrne / Seymour Civil Engineering

 

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