Screen Shot 2015-06-08 at 09.26.36THERE will be a changing of the guard today at the AGM of the North East’s largest business membership organisation.

The North East Chamber of Commerce will propose Nifco boss Mike Matthews MBE as its new President, as Newcastle International Airport Chief Executive Dave Laws hands over the chains of office to become the Chamber’s Immediate Past President.

Former apprentice Mike was brought up on a council estate in Darlington, and made his way from the shopfloor to the helm of one of the North East’s leading manufacturers. He is currently Managing Director and European Operations Officer of thriving automotive component business Nifco UK Limited.

A toolmaker by trade, he was appointed to his current position in 2008. He took on European responsibilities in 2012.

During his time with Nifco, Mike has transformed the business from one turning over just £300,000 to what will be a £75m company by 2016. With order books full for the next five years, the company moved into a state-of-the-art factory in Eaglescliffe in 2012, and quickly added to its floor space with a second facility, officially opened in 2014.  The company employs more than 500 people.

A passionate advocate for the North East and its business community, Mike is a vocal supporter of apprenticeships and works tirelessly to create links between the worlds of business and education and highlight the need to increase essential working skills in our region.

He said: “It will be a great honour to be elected President of a regional institution, particularly in its 200th anniversary year. The NECC is a fantastic organisation and essential to all North East business, helping future-proof the regional workforce with its apprenticeship scheme, supporting our firms operating in overseas markets and working alongside ministers to bring more investment to the North East.

Mike is a strong believer in promoting North East success outside the region.

He said: “Good communication is key. The Chamber is excellent at highlighting regional success stories, but I would like more of our members to do the same and start shouting about all the things that we do well here in the North East.

“There is so much going on, so many great innovators and businesses and a wealth of leaders in their fields. We must showcase these fantastic individuals and firms and demonstrate that the North East is not the poor relation some across the country seem to believe. We are an untapped resource, bursting with exciting potential.”

Speaking ahead of his last address as President, David said: “I have had an unbelievable two years as President and it has been a fantastic experience working with the Chamber heading into its 200th year.

“Like John Mowbray did for me, I will be here to lend Mike support in my role as Immediate Past President. I know him very well and think he will be a fantastic President, bringing knowledge, experience and vibrancy to the role.”

Mike will be officially voted in the North East Chamber of Commerce Annual General Meeting today (Tuesday, June 9).