NEAA Employer of the Year Award 2024

Transformational change sees Faltec Europe win Employer of the Year Award

In recognition of the transformational change in staff development, wellbeing and community involvement, Sunderland-based, Faltec Europe, won Employer of the Year, sponsored by Invest South Tyneside at the North East Automotive Alliance (NEAA) Annual Awards.

The company, which produces metal and plastic trim products and employs 320 staff, also received £2,000 which it will donate to a school of its choice with an emphasis on teaching pupils coding. In total, the award winners of all categories will give £16,500 to future talent, schools and STEM related programmes.

Hosted by national journalist and campaigner, Charlie Charlton, 300 guests were taken through eight categories, with Vantec Europe having double success in the Digital Transformation and Outstanding Contribution categories, the latter of which went to its managing director, Martin Kendall. It will donate £4,000 to Washington Academy.

The awards celebrated future talent, inspirational leaders and forward-thinking businesses who are cementing their position within the automotive industry.

So impressive were the entries, that judges added a Highly Commended in the Multinational category of the Innovation Award, sponsored by Newcastle University.

NEAA Employer of the Year Award 2024
Faltec Europe, NEAA Employer of the Year Award Winner 2024

Paul Butler, chief executive of the NEAA, said:

“This was a spectacular evening that shone a light on the amazing companies that make the automotive supply chain the dynamic, innovative and forward-looking sector that it is. More than that, it also reminded us in the most powerful way that, while technology plays an increasingly important role in all that we do, it is people that make our sector what it is.

“This was brought to life in remarkable style by the career journey outlined by Martin Kendall, managing director of Vantec Europe who won the Outstanding Contribution Award.

“Martin told us that he arrived in South Shields as a 17-year-old with £40 and an O Level in woodwork. He worked on the shopfloor at Nissan as a forklift driver and, eventually, became managing director of Vantec Europe, a preferred third party logistics provider, with 12 operations in the UK and a key customer base including automotive and premium vehicles. Quite a remarkable life journey that oozes resilience, perseverance, belief, humility and self-confidence.”

Martin Kendall, managing director, at Vantec Europe Limited said:

“I was very surprised and humbled but delighted to receive the Outstanding Contribution Award. I have had an amazing career in the advanced manufacturing, automotive and logistics industry having started at Ford Aerospace in Tyne Dock, followed by 16 years at Nissan, and 22 years, and counting, at Vantec Europe Limited.

“For me, it’s always been about the people at Vantec Europe, at every level from the shop floor, our apprentices, through to senior management; making sure we can deliver what our partners require. I’m a forklift truck driver by trade and very proud of it, every single person is important, and I’m passionate about getting the right people with the right attitude into the sector; they are the ones going to make a difference in the future.

“I can’t champion the North East and the people enough, I can’t underestimate how worldwide renowned, the region is. From the day I arrived, I was made welcome, and I’ve met some great people from all walks of life. I have colleagues from my early career who have helped me and still help me today through partnerships and collaboration.

“I’m an adopted Sanddancer, I arrived in the North East as a young 16-year-old boy, but I was made a man in the North East. It’s been a pleasure for me, an absolute pleasure.”

Martin Kendall, managing director, at Vantec Europe Limited s
Martin Kendall, managing director, at Vantec Europe Limited with Paul Butler, chief executive of the NEAA

Then, there was the  inspiring work undertaken by the management team at Faltec Europe to develop a truly transformational people development programme that is setting the company up perfectly for future growth but, most of all, shows that it truly values and cares for its staff.

Bruce Mair, human resources and general affairs manager, at Faltec Europe, said:

“We already had a very high retention rate, with the average length of services standing at 12.5 years. However, we wanted to be a better company, to put real focus on our people.  The senior management team was absolutely committed to taking our relationship with staff to a much higher level and be the stand-out, Tier 1, employer of choice.

“The platform for this was consultation, every step of the way, with staff, on a set of core values – integrity, innovation, respect and resilience – that we all signed up to and which guide every interaction we have with staff, suppliers, customers and wider stakeholders. We constantly review where we are and challenge whether our behaviours are in line with our values.

“To really show how important our staff are, the management team also recognised the importance of recognition, reward, respect and team resilience.

“This culture change is manifested in many initiatives including heathy eating, computer literacy, wellbeing, cancer awareness and mental health. We have quiet areas for contemplation or multifaith use, maternity pay is awarded for a full six-month period and there are increasing opportunities for flexible working.

“In terms of staff development, we have working relationships with many of the region’s universities, our people have embraced training and mentoring programmes and we have enrolled one member of staff on an apprenticeship focused on senior management skills.

“We belief that getting better never stops and that we are on a continual journey, in the knowledge that we have transformed our business and our people.”

The full list of winners and sponsors are:-

Geoff Ford MBE Apprentice Award, sponsored by Gateshead College

  • Megan Gorman – Unipres (UK) Limited

Graduate Award, sponsored by Marelli

  • Nathan Tshibuyi – Nissan Motor Manufacturing UK

Innovation Award, sponsored by Newcastle University

  • Multinational:
    • Komatsu UK Ltd
  • Highly Commended:
    • Marelli
  • SME:
    • Charpak Ltd

Digital Transformation Award, sponsored by NA College

  • Vantec Europe Limited

Environmental & Sustainability Award, sponsored by Nissan Motor Manufacturing UK

  • Multinational:
    • Lear Sunderland
  • SME:
    • Houghton International

Employer of the Year Award, sponsored by Invest South Tyneside

  • Faltec Europe Limited

SME of the Year Award, sponsored by North East Institute of Technology (NEIoT)

  • CMYK Digital Solutions Limited

Outstanding Contribution Award, sponsored by Sunderland City Council

  • Martin Kendall, Managing Director at Vantec Europe

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