Manufacturing forum celebrates milestone

Mar 1, 2016 | Regional Business

An organisation set up to support the region’s manufacturing sector has celebrated its 100th meeting with a talk on diversification from its respected founder.

The Advanced Manufacturing Forum (AMF) was launched in June 2006 by Geoff Ford OBE, of Ford Aerospace Limited and Ford Component Manufacturing Limited.

And to mark the major milestone, Mr Ford was guest speaker, addressing the audience about how the industry has changed in the 10 years since it was founded, and how companies can diversify their markets.

Businesses at the heart of the region’s manufacturing industry make up the organisation’s membership, reaping the benefits of advice and information on topical issues, challenges and opportunities, contacts and links.

Since its inception, monthly meetings have been held with well-known guest speakers addressing members on a range of relevant themes.
Mr Ford gave a talk on company diversification and how businesses can be more agile to reap the benefits of growth, a hurdle faced by dozens of North East firms due to challenges within the markets in which they operate.

The successful businessman will share his experiences and expertise after rearing two successful firms through difficult trading conditions.

Representatives from other companies will also be on hand to relay their experiences of successful diversification.

Jack Hanwell, AMF’s development manager, based in Eldon Street, South Shields, said: “It was with great pleasure that we welcomed Geoff to speak at our 100th meeting given that he was the man who launched the organisation 10 years ago.

“If it hadn’t been for Geoff creating this hub of connections and relationships between the manufacturing companies of the North, then we may be looking at a very different industrial picture right now. The meetings mean members can look to each other for help and guidance through difficult times, as well as sharing successes.”

He added: “Our 100th meeting was particularly important to those companies who have found themselves caught up in the slump in the oil and gas sector, and are now looking around for opportunities to diversify, maybe looking into the nuclear, renewables, or automotive sectors.

“The fall in the oil price has seen an awful lot of redundancies and companies closing. As a consequence, we have decided to dedicate a meeting to diversification and how some companies have made it work.

“Geoff Ford was the perfect candidate to lead on this topic.”