A CELEBRATED high-tech South Tyneside manufacturing firm has cast an eye to the future by appointing a fourth generation family member to its board of directors.
Chris Ford’s move to group finance director with Ford Aerospace Limited and Ford Component Manufacturing Limited has also led to the consolidation of financial operations into one team.
He joins his father Geoff Ford, MBE – grandson of Robert Ford, who founded the firm in 1910 – his mother Marilyn and managing director Mark Podmore, on the board.
Mr Ford, 27, was previously Finance and IT Manager with Ford Component Manufacturing at its plant in Hebburn, South Tyneside, one of two sites it operates.
The University of Hull economics graduate has now moved with a further four staff to Ford Aerospace’s base at Tyne Dock, South Shields, from where he hopes to make the department more flexible and responsive to its expanding operations.
He said: “The job comes with a lot of responsibility and it is a tremendous challenge for me, but one I am very much looking forward to.
“Dealing with both companies means there is a lot for me to take on, but I work with an extremely competent and dedicated team.
“Merging the finance departments created the opportunity to realign the way we work and make the business more responsive to our needs and those of our customers. I am very much looking forward to helping develop the company further.”
Mr Ford joined the business – of which his father is chairman – in credit control, after leaving university six years ago.
He then became a team leader with Ford Aerospace and passed a two-and-half-year senior management accountancy qualification with the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants while on day release.
Eighteen months ago he became finance and IT manager at Ford Component Manufacturing, which last month opened a second plant in North Tyneside for high volume manufacturing and the specialised treatment of parts.
He has also started a two-year, part-time MBA at Durham University which will embellish him with a further range of skills to take Ford into a new era of manufacturing.
Key to this is overseas expansion, in which Ford has taken significant recent strides by moving into the fast-growing markets of China and India among others.
Mr Ford, who lives in Gateshead, says he takes great pride in playing such an integral role in the long-established and highly-respected company, which employs about 160 staff across its three sites.
He added: “I know just how good the company name is and the esteem in which it has been held by so many people over so many years. It is a very good business.
“I have always been able to turn to my dad for advice if ever I have needed it, but the truth is that he has let me get on with my work here and others within the company have overseen my development.
“I’m very much looking forward to taking on the challenges that lie ahead and helping Ford continue to succeed and grow.”