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North East Panels unveils new jobs, contracts and equipment

An expanding Sunderland company is creating jobs after winning two major contracts and investing in new equipment.

North East Panels, which is headquartered on Washington's Pattinson South Industrial Estate and also has a factory near Nottingham, makes doors for local council social housing and trade customers. The company employs 75 people and is adding between six to eight new positions, with plans for further recruitment later in the year.

The new jobs are a result of two new contracts with local authority clients in Yorkshire and the addition of a sophisticated CNC beam saw, which was partly funded through a capital expenditure grant from the Regional Growth Fund.

North East Panels director, Dave Sugden, said: "Halfway through last year, we got steadily busier. The industry has become more vibrant after being up and down over the last few years.

"The new equipment has allowed us both to grow and keep up with increased demand. The CNC beam saw is programmed to cut at a much greater speed than the equipment we had and that has increased capacity.

"We've taken on people as a direct result, and on top of that, we have acquired two new long-term contracts which will result in a steady flow of doors per week. The machine and the new contracts mean we have seen a sharp growth in our orders and while still maintaining our lead times."

Sunderland City Council's business investment team worked with North East Panels to source the most appropriate grant. 
Dave Sugden said: "Sunderland City Council has always been very receptive to us, even when we were very small. People don't realise that every bit of equipment can make all the difference.

"It's very easy to work with Sunderland Council. They have always been very helpful."

North East Panels supplies its products virtually nationwide, with its Washington headquarters servicing Northern England and Scotland and its Nottingham base providing products to the Midlands and South.

The company started 19 years ago with a workforce of five in a small unit close to its current head office and factory. Co-director Mike Knapton supervised the building of the 40,000sq ft premises where North East Panels has been based since 2007.

Dave Sugden said: "We've got a great staff, and they're all local people. We have people who have been here since day one and we also have different generations of the same families working for us."

Sunderland City Council is able to provide business advice, support and where applicable, help to source grants, for new and growing companies based in the city and those looking for new premises.

Sunderland City Council deputy leader, Councillor Harry Trueman said: "We were pleased to help with North East Panels' latest expansion. This is a company that has grown from a small start into a key employer in Washington.

"It's great news that it is creating jobs and has won new contracts to sell Sunderland-manufactured products nationwide. We look forward to continuing our relationship with the company as it continues to grow."