A consultancy that works with Central Government in Whitehall has opened an office in a business community in Middlesbrough, stating that it surpasses all their expectations for office space in the area!

Only weeks after completing renovation works, Commerce House is already filling quickly; with a raft of new tenants moving in determined to take advantage of the enviable TS1 postcode.

Latest to join the business community in the Grade II listed building, which has just undergone a £1.2m renovation programme, is Smart Pads Real Estate Consultancy Ltd.

Ummar Hanif is the Director of Smart Pads Real Estate Consultancy, offering consultancy and project management services to developers, public bodies, private companies, housing associations and individuals specialising in capital investment, asset management, portfolio management and construction.

Launched two years ago, the company originally focused on property management but due to Ummar’s experience as a senior manager in the public sector, a natural transition occurred with the mainstay of the company’s business now being in strategic project management and consultancy.

As the business has cemented itself, Ummar required a further office in his hometown, Middlesbrough, but with the same clout as his London postcode.

Ummar, who is dad to two-year-old Ayla, said:

“I travel a lot between London and The North and since becoming a dad, it has become important to also have an office space where I can focus on the business whilst in Middlesbrough. I had looked at a number of office spaces in the area and because of my experience of working with commercial properties, I knew exactly what I was looking for. It wasn’t until I visited Commerce House that I found where I wanted to be based.

“Not only is the location amazing, but the quality, attention to details, facilities and level of staff service is second to none. A number of clients have visited in my first week and they are all blown away too!”

Smart Pads joins some high profile organisations in the new business community including the Department of Industry and Trade, North East England Chamber of Commerce, Hainton, Vanquish Steel and others.

As well as office space, Commerce House offers meeting space, a luxurious board room and business lounge, hot desking and virtual office services.

More information on the business community and office space is available at www.commerce-house.co.uk. More on Ummar’s services is available at www.smart-pads.co.uk

Middlesbrough’s major economic ambitions have been boosted with it being named one of the Top 10 Small Cities in Europe by the Financial Times.

The high profile listing comes in a report entitled European Cities and Regions of the Future 2018-19 which asks the question “With Europe in flux, which locations have investment potential for the long haul?”

The report has been compiled by an FT supplement – fDi magazine – which looks at potential for foreign direct investment (FDI). Middlesbrough was listed at number nine for small cities in Europe with its strategy to attract foreign investment.

A small city is categorised as having less than 1.5m people.

Middlesbrough Mayor Dave Budd said: “Middlesbrough has a rich history of industry, innovation and pioneering exploration, and we’re building on that in the 21st Century with a booming city centre economy, burgeoning digital and creative sectors and a thriving University.

“This recognition further underpins our potential for global investment, and marks Middlesbrough out as a beacon of ambition, regeneration and prosperity.

“Not so long ago Boro fans were chanting about Middlesbrough being a ‘small town in Europe’ with our usual self-effacing pride and good humour. It is great to see us now being recognised for our city-scale economic ambitions beyond the UK’s borders.”

Middlesbrough Council’s Investment Prospectus is the central plank of the economic development being seen in the town’s centre – or city heart – which will see the authority invest £74m in order to unlock more than £600m of private inward investment and secure 600 new jobs.

Among the projects happening are the £22.46 million Tees Advanced Manufacturing Park (TAMP) – based on the historic South West Ironmasters site – which is aimed at high productivity cutting edge manufacturing companies looking for a prime location in one of the UK’s key regeneration areas.

Other key projects include the proposed snow centre and the building of five new office blocks to the east of Centre Square to attract 1,500 new jobs and to re-home Middlesbrough Council staff.

Courtney Fingar, fDi Magazine’s editor-in-chief said: “In an ever more competitive global investment landscape and at a time when Europe is moving into a new political chapter with continuing uncertainties, it is equally challenging and important for cities and regions across Europe to bolster their appeal for foreign direct investment.

“fDi Magazine’s rankings are the result of a detailed, in-depth benchmarking exercise to determine the European locations with the brightest prospects for future inward investment. We applaud the success of all cities and regions in these rankings.”

Tees Valley employers working in key sectors are being encouraged to recruit for an apprentice through a new grant scheme which aims to further establish the area as an innovative region for apprenticeship growth.

Apprenticeship Support for Employers (ASE) is provided by Tees Valley Combined Authority and offers excellent opportunities for employers in key sectors such as advanced manufacturing, chemical and process, and digital and creative, to grow and develop their workforce. It is designed to assist employers committed to creating a new apprenticeship or progressing an existing apprentice onto a higher level.

Several companies have already taken advantage of the support, welcoming new apprentices to their teams over the past couple of months.

Working closely with training providers, they will provide a valuable experience for their apprentices who will become the future generation of skilled workers in Tees Valley.

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said: “Now more than ever we need more of the skills that local businesses are crying out for. We are committed to increasing routes to great careers but we recognise employers need support. We are launching this funding scheme to address shortage by specifically targeting the sectors of our economy which have the highest growth potential.

“Tees Valley has a strong track record of encouraging apprenticeships, with recent growth far higher than national rates. I want to build on this success, and urge businesses to come forward and work with us so that we can invest in developing home-grown talent.”

The £1.3million scheme has been created following the previously successful Apprenticeship Grant for Employers (AGE), devolved to the Combined Authority in 2016, which approved applications to support more than 1,000 apprentices.

It is hoped the new scheme will have an even greater impact by specifically focussing on growing skills and employment in key sectors that have been highlighted in Tees Valley’s Strategic Economic Plan.

These key sectors have been identified as; advanced manufacturing, process, chemicals and energy, logistics, health and biologics, digital and creative, culture and leisure and business and professional services.

Tees Valley employers in these sectors can apply for one of two grants.

Grant A

A grant of £2,500 per apprentice for small to medium businesses (under 250 employees) from priority sectors who employ an apprentice aged 19+.


Grant B

An initial grant of £500 per apprentice for small businesses (under 50 employees) who employ and apprentice aged 19-24 with an additional £500 if the apprentice is still employed after 13 months.

The managing director of a company bringing more than 100 new jobs to Middlesbrough has revealed why it was the perfect location to set up.

Tony Anderson of Splash Utilities – a water utility brokerage – said a number of cities were under consideration, including Leeds, before it became clear none could offer the same package as Middlesbrough.

Mr Anderson said: “There was a number of factors, one was the resource pool available to us, we knew there was unemployment here but people with skills we believe are transferrable, we had fantastic support from the Council which was a major factor.

“We were looking to locate in Leeds and we spoke to them and other areas and they weren’t as supportive so that was a big thing for us.

“Middlesbrough Council has pointed us in directions of agencies and other support mechanisms, helped us identify sponsorship opportunities, plus the area itself is starting to grow

“The network links are great, we’re just off the A66, the train station is next door, car parking – which will be really important when we are at full capacity, facilities for the staff.

“I came to Middlesbrough a few years ago and like most cities at that time it felt a little sad, I don’t mean that in a derogatory way but people had their head down a little bit. You walk around now and it feels fantastic and to be part of that is really exciting for us.”

The firm moved into their 8,000 sq ft premises in Royal Middlehaven House and have 30 staff already in place, with a further 70 positions hoped to be created in the new year.

Apprenticeships and traineeships are also available, meaning staff can gain qualifications whilst working for the company.

Royal Middlehaven House is owned by another Middlesbrough company Python Properties, whose co-founder Peter Broome described the decision of Splash as a “great coup”.

He said: “We developed this building in 2003-04 when there was not much here and we have seen Boho develop, the police station develop here and other building work.

“Splash is a great coup for Middlesbrough but it’s a great coup for us as well. Middlesbrough has performed fantastically over the last three years and I think it’s on an upward trajectory that will continue to improve.”

Cllr Charlie Rooney, Middlesbrough’s Deputy Mayor and Executive Member for City Centre Strategy, said: “It’s great to hear Tony and Peter talking so positively about Middlesbrough and we are getting the same message back right across the city centre.

“There is a great amount of positivity at the moment, the Council’s Investment Prospectus and the work being put in by council officers in Economic Growth are giving more and more confidence that Middlesbrough is open for business.”

Image: (L-R) Debbie Ingoldsby from Middlesbrough Council’s Investment and Growth team, Tony Anderson of Splash Utilities, Cllr Charlie Rooney, Middlesbrough’s Deputy Mayor and Peter Broome of Python Properties.

International provider of industrial fire and rescue services – Falck Fire Services UK – has worked alongside the North East’s leading two-way digital radio specialists to upgrade its existing radio system to significantly increase their workers safety whilst also reducing costs for the business.

Teesside based Eemits Communications has installed its unique modular platform – TRBOCALL – to Falck who provide support to over 100 businesses in airports and high-risk industries including petrochemical plants, nuclear power plants, steel plants and automotive manufacturers.

Speaking about the upgrade, Ian Scott, Operations Commander at Falck said: “Working in high hazard environments, having efficient two-way communications is absolutely vital. The analogue radio system we previously had in place significantly lacked audio quality and our equipment required an upgrade.

“We chose to work with Eemits as we wanted to work with a local and trusted provider. Not only did they provide us with a system that offers unrivalled coverage and saved us significant costs through eliminating the need to buy radio communication infrastructure, we now have a system that has outstanding radio quality, as well as a number of crucial safety features to protect our workforce.”

Eemits TRBOCALL system comprises six elements including infrastructure, hardware, software, service wrap, features and accessories. Falck’s new system now operates on Eemits cloud based fool-proof network structure – Capacity Max – meaning the company did not need to incur hefty costs of installing its own infrastructure.

Dr. Craig Matthews, Managing Director at Eemits said: “We have heavily invested in our innovative Capacity Max system, a completely managed structure, to offer our clients based in the North East an unrivalled network solution allowing them to not only save money on set up and maintenance infrastructure costs, but also eliminate the need to have an OFCOM licence, reducing administration time.

“With many layers of redundancy, we can guarantee the system will not go down. If there was to be a power cut, we have installed a control room system at Falck with IT fallbacks in place. This means that Falck can rest assured that their communications will always run as efficiently as they possibly can, which is very important in their line of work.”

Eemits provided a series of ATEX certified hand portable Motorola DP4801, which are extremely hard wearing with a rugged design and which are suitable for use in high hazard environments. The company was also supplied with a series of desktop Motorola DM4601E radios and two dispatcher PC’s with intuitive user interfaces allowing Falck to receive different types of radio calls whilst also benefiting from full visualisation.

Falck chose a number of software elements to accompany the TRBOCALL system – which can be tailored to suit individual business needs – including personal safety. This involved a number of features on the radios including a panic button, which activates if a worker was to have a trip or fall, a built in lone worker function and voice recording, a crucial health and safety element which is integrated into the system software.

Established in 1986, Eemits Communications operates from its headquarters at Riverside Park, Middlesbrough. The company boasts an impressive client portfolio including EDF Energy Nuclear, Lucite International, CF Fertilisers and Go Ahead Group.

A North East radio communications specialist has launched a first of its kind digital solution.

The North East’s leading two-way communications specialists – Eemits Communications – is the first company in the region to introduce a flexible modular service platform that has already significantly enhanced its customers operational efficiency and productivity, whilst also increasing worker safety.

Known by the Middlesbrough based company as ‘The Daddy of All Systems’ the intelligent modular service platform – TRBOCALL – brings two-way radio communication into the digital age with a unique combination of hardware and bespoke software applications combined with digital features.

The solution is designed to streamline day to day operations of companies within the manufacturing, utilities, petrochemical and public sectors, and can be tailored to suit individual business needs.

Renowned in the region for providing ultra-smart two-way radio solutions for over 30 years, the company has recently invested heavily in its infrastructure to guarantee its customers will receive uninterrupted communications, and at all times.

Speaking about TRBOCALL, Dr Craig Matthews at Eemits Communications said: “As an innovative and evolving company, it was very important for us to introduce not only the latest technology to our clients, but also embrace the disruptive cloud technology that is now available. As far as we are aware, this has never been used with two-way radio communications, as such offering an unrivalled network solution to our customers.

“For us, the network is just as important as the robustness of the hardware, particularly when used in potentially hazardous environments. As such, investment in installing a fool-proof network – where no single failure can bring the system down – means that our customers have full peace of mind with maximum coverage.

“And what’s more is that, through the adoption of our cloud based network, our customers no longer incur hefty costs for OFCOM licensing fees meaning significant savings can be made.”

Independently connected using IP architecture, Eemits Communications currently manages its network from five hill top radio transmitter sites across the region. With built-in diagnostics, combined with many layers of redundancy, the company can guarantee an uninterrupted service.

TRBOCALL boasts a range of sophisticated software applications including a man down function, which triggers an emergency alert if a worker with a radio was to fall over or when a radio remains still for a period of time, together with lone worker function designed for workers operating in isolated environments, where their whereabouts can be monitored at all times. Other features include location tracking, intelligent audio, text messaging and work order ticketing.

Craig said: “Each software feature has several benefits and can be applied across a range of applications in different industries. As such, we offer essentially a build your own system, which means our customers can choose the right application suitable for their business and which will help them enhance their operational efficiencies whilst increasing productivity and safety.”

Customers who have already invested in the innovative TRBOCALL system include Chemoxy International Ltd, Falck Fire Services UK and Northumbrian Water.

Established in 1986, Eemits Communications operates from its headquarters at Riverside Park, Middlesbrough. The company boasts an impressive client portfolio including EDF Energy Nuclear, Lucite International, CF Fertilisers and Go Ahead Group.

Middlesbrough based brand communications agency, The Creative Alchemist, has announced that it has successfully fulfilled expansion plans by adding to its team and relocating to a larger office space.

Following on from a period of accelerated growth and increased demand for branding and design work, Adam Allport has joined the team as Graphic Designer, working alongside the company’s Creative Director.

The company, which recently celebrated its second birthday, has also reported a 30% growth in annual turnover and relocated to a larger office in Boho One, Middlesbrough, to accommodate the six strong team.

“We’ve seen a significant increase in the amount of companies approaching us for design and branding work in the past 12 months,” said Lisa Holt, MD at The Creative Alchemist.

“Good design and creativity is paramount to a company’s success, and this is becoming more apparent to companies who want to stay ahead of competitors. Design is more than just aesthetics or simply a logo – it’s about maximising your brand’s effectiveness in the industry and having a strong presence in today’s highly visual world.”

The Creative Alchemist works with a range of local and national clients to enhance existing brands, as well as creating new brands for start-ups. Built around an established team with over 50 years industry experience, the agency helps brands to engage with consumers, communicate brand culture and achieve marketing goals through innovative strategies.

“We love really going back to basics with our clients through creative workshops to clearly articulate a brand’s story. It can be too easy to forget why businesses exist and ultimately delving down and understanding a brand’s true identity and personality will result in brand loyalty and increased revenue.”

The agency previously welcomed Beccy Owens and Sarah McCormick to the team in June 2016, and more recently relocated to a new larger office in Boho One with additional dedicated meeting space.

“Our creativity, strategic know-how and integrated approach has seen us win a variety of new clients both locally and nationally. With the introduction of Adam, along with Sarah and Beccy in 2016, we have a wealth of experience and knowledge – each with different strengths and collectively covering every aspect of branding, design and strategic marketing,” said Lisa.

“It’s been an amazing year for us so far,” added Lisa. “We’ve put further plans in place to grow our client base even more and hopefully add to our team again in the near future”.

For more information on The Creative Alchemist, visit www.thecreativealchemist.co.uk.

A Teesside estate and letting agent is combining the world of property and virtual reality in a bid to transform client experience.

Michael Poole Estate and Letting Agents is leading the local property market with 360 degree virtual tours of their on the market properties, to offer clients a simplified viewing in the comfort of their own home.

This new and immersive service is created using state of the art technology and software Matterport, which is now available as an in-house service at Michael Poole Estate and Letting Agents.

Senior Partner, Michael Poole, said: “Times are changing and people’s lives and schedules are changing, so as a result we are shaping the way clients can view properties.

“Online virtual reality walk-throughs of a property are cutting out any time wasted for prospective buyers and sellers alike.

“Through offering the virtual service, we are continuing to work towards shaping and adapting the property market to match the demands of modern day clients.”

Matterport allows you to see a detailed, high resolution, 360 degree view of a properties interior before deciding whether or not you would like to arrange to view the property in person.

This opens the property market to those who don’t have a lot of time to view a property, or those tenants selling a property who want to avoid time wasters.

Michael Poole Estate and Letting Agent was established in Middlesbrough in 1994, and has since transformed to cover the region of Teesside with nine prominently located branches offering hundreds of homes for sale and to let.

Every branch, including Middlesbrough and Coulby Newham, has the potential to use a virtual tour to promote their property.

The new service is proving to be an attractive incentive to buy a property, which has led to interest from other businesses such as building companies and architect firms in using the virtual walkthrough for their show homes.

Other local businesses such as restaurants, bars and cafes are welcome to enquire about using the software to showcase their interiors to prospective customers.

Firstsource Solutions UK, the UK’s leading customer experience expert, is set to grow its operations in Middlesbrough this year by creating up to 500 jobs in the area. The jobs are being created as a result of recent Firstsource client wins.

The new roles, which include customer service agents, team leads and trainers, have been created to help Firstsource deliver exceptional customer service for clients including the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), with whom Firstsource recently signed a two-year deal. New recruits will work from the Firstsource site on Grange Road in the centre of Middlesbrough, where Firstsource currently employs 180 people.

Johnny Auton, Site Director at Firstsource in Middlesbrough said, ‘‘Firstsource’s growing client base means that we’re now in a position to expand the number of roles we can offer the people of Middlesbrough. After what has been a challenging period for the region, I am proud that Firstsource has committed to being a part of its regeneration by bringing work back to our local area. We want to give people in Middlesbrough who are passionate about delivering great customer experiences exciting opportunities to develop their careers.’’

Firstsource will work with the FCA to offer consumers support and guidance around how to claim ahead of the deadline for complaining about PPI via telephone, email and webchat.

Those wishing to find out more about the new opportunities can visit www.firstsource.com/careers, or apply directly at middlesbrough.recruitment@firstsource.com

One of the region’s most reputable estate agents is feeling fabulous after reaching its milestone 40-year anniversary.

Thirlwells, which employs 20 staff across its Middlesbrough and Billingham branches, opened in June 1977 and is now the longest serving, independent estate agents in the area.

Over the last four decades, despite a tumultuous market of late, the Company has continued to go from strength to strength and is looking forward to an exciting future, with expansion plans in the pipeline.

“Our old but experienced way of doing things when the market crashed was invaluable,” said Partner, Wendy Clarke.

“We’ve moved with the times but always listen to our customers and deliver the service they expect, and I truly believe that’s why we’re still here today and even growing.”

Having started her career as an office junior at Thirlwells in 1979, Wendy and fellow partner, Nicola Munro, are delighted to be able to celebrate such a significant accomplishment with each other, their colleagues, friends and family.

“Given the circumstances the whole industry has endured, we are so proud to still be here,” said Nicola.

“It really is down to the grit and determination of the team around us, as well as the fact myself and Wendy are very much on the front line, leading by example.

“We are passionate about what we do and still get a buzz when a sale goes through. The team sees this enthusiasm and they are constantly learning from us.”

With a reputation for extensive training programmes which produce knowledgeable and experienced employees who often dedicate their careers to Thirlwells, the company enjoys low staff turnover, enabling it to form trusted relationships with clients.

“Our motto is ‘The name you can trust’ and every single staff member adheres to this. Integrity has played a huge part in our success and it’s an ethos we embed into everyone, from the juniors, right up to the partners,” said Nicola.

To celebrate the momentous occasion, as well as hosting a customer appreciation event to honour those who have helped the Company get to where it is today, over the next four months, Thirlwells will be running a campaign of special offers for customers old and new.

“We wouldn’t be here without the support of our customers, many who have helped us enjoy repeat business or recommended us to their friends and families over the years, so this is our way of saying thank you to them,” said Wendy.

To find out more about Thirlwells, visit http://www.thirlwell-estates.co.uk.