Born and Bred Teesside Entrepreneur see Business Take Off
Bryan Bunn, the Managing Director of Nortech Group, a rapidly expanding engineering design company based at Wynyard, has reported an extremely positive first two years in business. Turnover has increased three-fold and the company has taken on 74 new members of staff since starting up with a team of four. Proud recipients of the North East Business Awards Newcomer of the Year award, Nortech is without doubt a company that is going from strength to strength.
From Stockton-On-Tees, Bryan, 51, started out as an apprentice mechanical engineer at ICI Billingham in the early eighties. But his fledgling career was sadly short-lived when over a hundred apprentices were laid off as the recession hit.
He explained: “This was a huge shock to the system as multi-national companies like ICI were then thought to as safe as houses. Basically, if you managed to get an apprenticeship at a big employer like ICI, you were set for life. Things were starting to change however and it soon became clear that there was no longer going to be any jobs for life.”
Bryan decided to use the time out of work very productively to hone his design skills at college – a move that was to lay the foundations for his career in engineering.
Then in 2004, Bryan took an MBA at Teesside to bolster his strategic management skillset. He was 43, married with a young family and worked full time in the engineering sector.
Of his time at Teesside, Bryan said: “It was hard work, juggling study with a busy full-time job and family life, but it ultimately paid off. The sense of achievement when I went up to accept my MBA from the Chancellor was huge, and I can honestly say that it is one of the best things I have ever done in my life.”
After a career in engineering that saw him gain experience in the oil and gas, petrochemical, chemical, nuclear, iron and steel sectors, he took the decision in April 2011 to set up Nortech Solutions with an initial four members of staff.
Based at Wynyard, near Stockton, it serves the offshore and onshore oil and gas sectors as well as the chemical process and steel industries.
“In those early days, I was delighted to have the support and backing of my wife Elaine, as she was steadfast and true in the encouragement and drive she provided. That support was vital, as we took the decision to invest our private savings into the new company.”
From small beginnings, Nortech has undergone rapid strategic expansion and now has three different companies under one umbrella. Nortech Group is made up of Nortech Solutions, Nortech Staffing Solutions, and Nortech Oil and Gas Ltd.
Nortech Solutions is an engineering design and project management company, with the capabilities to provide fully integrated services through the life cycle of a project from concept to completion. Nortech Staffing Solutions provides advice and recruitment services. Nortech Oil and Gas Ltd provides its clients with brownfield engineering design, procurement and construction management solutions, ranging from process modification and repair, like for like replacement and life extension projects.
Since starting life in 2011 with 2000 sq ft of office space on the Wynyard Estate, Nortech has expanded with additional offices to a further 6000 sq ft to accommodate an ever increasing workforce.
“We hit the ground running with a contract from Jersey Gas Company Limited, which still has six months to run. On the back of that deal we went from six to about 20 staff.
“The business has already exceeded our initial three-year plan. I love being my own boss because I can get on with things in the way I think they should be done without the political influence you get being employed by a big organisation.”
A multi-million pound contract from EnQuest took Nortech to another level and saw another 40 people join the firm.
The company now employs 78 and Bryan reckons he has worked with about 55 of them throughout his career.
“They have bought into the vision and taken a leap of faith. With such a young company you are asking people to take a chance, but with that comes a great opportunity to do something exciting and hopefully to have fun in the process."
Like Bryan, many of the Nortech team have been born and bred in the North East of England and many have been keen to re-settle in the region after working overseas or making the weekly commute to offshore jobs in Aberdeen.
Bryan himself is a fervent ambassador for the North East and its people: “I’ve travelled extensively overseas for work and on almost every occasion you find that the people making the job tick hail from the North-East. Our people are one of this region’s greatest exports and our engineering skills help to power companies all over the world.”
Nortech plans to further expand its client base in the upstream oil and gas sector and Bryan is optimistic about the company’s plans for the future. The company is also currently supporting five of its junior staff through courses at Teesside University.