Landmark birthday for South Shields business

One of South Tyneside's most successful businesses is celebrating its birthday.

Thursday, 4th January 2018, 10:21 am
Updated Thursday, 4th January 2018, 11:15 am
John Lightfoot outside the original Solar Solve shop in Sunderlands High Street West in January 1988.

South Shields-based Solar Solve, trading as Solar Solve Marine, turns 30 this month.

It was in January 1988 that the Lightfoot family business of Northern Window Blind Co, a partnership that was established in a shop in Sunderland in 1975, changed its name and status to become Solar Solve Ltd and began to specialise in window blind products for the global marine industry.

Solar Solve Marine chairman John Lightfoot today

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The team quickly established themselves as world leaders in the industry, pioneering the use of solar roller sunscreens as a navigation safety aid.

Founder and company chairman John Lightfoot said: “We are extremely proud of our achievements and the fact that many worldwide distributors who signed up with us in the early days still remain loyal customers today, Solar Solve Ltd’s Pearl Anniversary.

“Three of them are in our top five customer list and three of our main suppliers are also the same ones we began using in the very early days as well.”

With 13 years’ experience as a blindmaker and 10 years as a marine engineer, John saw an opportunity to combine the two and set out to supply shipowners with what they needed, from a reliable and committed supplier who would prioritise customer service.

Solar Solve Marine chairman John Lightfoot today

The company has served thousands of customers and supplied tens of millions of pounds of goods over the period, to 95 countries on six continents.

As a direct result of its significant exporting achievements, John was awarded an MBE in 2002 and daughter Julie, the managing director, received an MBE in 2012.

Both were presented by Her Majesty The Queen for Services to International Trade.

“The royal recognition was a great honour and the icing on the cake, but the whole team is motivated by what we do for our customers and the many customer commendations we receive,” said Julie.

“We get a great sense of satisfaction when people contact the team with problems, asking if we can help and then, after working through their problem with them and supplying the products they need, receiving feedback saying how delighted they are with our products and service.”

Solar Solve Marine is based on Simonside East Industrial Park.