A FAMILY-OWNED manufacturer is close to securing two fresh contracts it believes will strengthen its marketplace reputation.

GB Belting is in talks with two regional firms over new deals.

Bosses at the business, based in Thornaby, near Stockton, say the impending successes stem from their time at the Durham Oktoberfest expo.

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The company took part in the Newton Aycliffe manufacturing and engineering showpiece for the first time last year, and Jeremy Byrne, managing director, said it had proven to be a wise move.

He said: “We had attended Oktoberfest but never exhibited, so we didn’t really know what to expect.

“However, we made a lot of new contacts and after following up promising leads, we are in the process of converting two into contracts.

“They will be sizeable for us and may well lead to other things.

“We really were impressed with the calibre of companies who attended Oktoberfest and I’m sure it won’t be our last year.”

GB Belting was founded 40 years ago by Jeremy’s father, Gerry, and supplies products to companies and organisations across the food, retail and automotive industries, including Sunderland car maker Nissan.

Known for process and conveyor belting products, it also makes belting for treadmills and exports goods to more than 70 countries, employing ten staff at its Teesside Industrial Estate base.

Mr Byrne added: “We firmly believe we are at the forefront of our industry and are the best at what we do.

“Investment in the latest machinery, manufacturing processes and personnel has ensured we have stayed ahead of our competitors.

“The biggest challenge we face is raising our profile to new audiences, which is what attending Oktoberfest enabled us to do.”

The latest expo, held in October at Newton Aycliffe’s Xcel Centre, attracted more than 100 businesses, with nearly 1,000 visitors taking in exhibition stalls, a panel debate and an incubator zone aimed at nurturing small firms’ growth.

Ben Gilhespy, operations director at County Durham Engineering and Manufacturing Network, which organises the showpiece, said GB Belting’s success was a perfect example of its ability to stimulate industrial expansion.

He added: Our event is all about introducing companies to potential clients and suppliers, which ultimately supports the growth of the engineering and manufacturing sectors in the North-East.

“To hear GB Belting has walked away with new contracts is fantastic.”