AMANDA Gardiner has had to put back our interview.

Laughing as she explains her predicament, she reveals a hair appointment has been hastily arranged in her diary.

It’s a trivial moment in a very busy schedule.

Mrs Gardiner is managing director at Durham Lifting, a company known for industrial testing and lifting equipment.

Her trip to the salon isn’t a relaxing afternoon, it’s a businesswoman taking a very brief sojourn from the day-to-day exertions of running a successful family operation.

Durham Lifting, which operates the former Dorman Long Britannia Steelworks, in Middlesbrough, designs, makes, tests and maintains equipment including beams, lifting frames, overhead cranes and subsea lifting apparatus.

Employing nearly 30 people, it was founded by Mrs Gardiner’s father, Frank Pickersgill, and is equally renowned for its hire division.

Its services naturally align it to the oil and gas sector, but, as with countless companies across the UK, that industry’s cooling, hastened by the low oil price, has delivered setbacks.

Relief then for Mrs Gardiner’s stewardship.

She is overseeing the business’ increasing presence into new areas, such as the renewable sector, where it is supporting the Rampion offshore wind farm, off the Sussex coast.

Eon, the energy firm behind the development, says it will use 116 turbines to generate power for around 300,000 homes a year, and called on Durham Lifting’s expertise to bring its vision to reality.

The firm, which also has a base in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, was asked to make spreader beams to lift piles into place for turbine installation.

For Mrs Gardiner, the project represents another coup and provides welcome momentum away from the sluggish oil and gas industry.

Reflecting on that sector’s difficulties, she said: “It’s been hard work though we have managed to keep people employed and the projects for the wind farm industry have allowed us to continue growing.

“We were incredibly proud to be asked to take part in the Eon project and we look forward to seeing the final results, knowing we had a hand in its completion.

“However, I think it will be 2017 before we see any change in oil and gas.

“They won’t make any decisions in the winter and possibly won’t do so until March.

“The situation’s had an impact on Teesside because we have built a reputation around oil and gas, though we are lucky as we aren’t fully reliant on it.

“There will be a turning point, but, in the meantime, you’ve got to get your name out there and speak to people you may not have spoken to for a long time.”

For Mrs Gardiner, a business management graduate, overcoming potentially difficult situations is nothing new.

She was running a department at the firm in her late teens, and has gone from a 15-year-old receptionist to managing director.

It’s a rapid ascent borne out of a commitment to put Durham Lifting ahead of its rivals and help staff flourish, which includes giving apprentices opportunities to start their careers.

She added: “I always wanted to go into what my dad did; I always found it very interesting and like developing other people.

“You can do that when you are at the top of the tree.

“But I couldn’t do my role successfully without the team supporting me and I continue to appreciate their efforts, hard work and commitment.

“We are a very proud business and we are bringing people through all the time; we want to put them through training.

“We have a lot of competition in the area in sales and hire because there are lots of lifting gear companies on Teesside.

“But the flexibility of our business and the fact we manufacture, test and repair our equipment gives us that edge that customers desire.”

Five minutes with... Amanda Gardiner

Favourite North-East building and why? It has got to be The Sage, in Gateshead. The venue itself is stunning and it hosts a number of programmes to engage members of the local community and encourage progression and confidence through music.

What was your first job and how much did you get paid? In my very first job I earned £1.90 an hour cleaning tables in a restaurant.

What is the worst job you've had? This definitely has to be cleaning toilets.

What would you cook for me if I came around for dinner? I do fancy myself to be quite a good cook – when I get the time that is.I would prepare a Souvlaki and Greek salad, a fresh Mediterranean dish to get you in the mood for summer.

What would your superpower be? This isn’t a tough question for me. If I could choose any superpower it would be to cure babies of pain and disease.

Name four people, dead or alive, who would be at your perfect dinner party: Eddie Murphy, Lord Alan Sugar, Will Smith and the brilliant Michelle Mone.

Most expensive thing you've bought - other than car or house - and how much? This has got to be my beautiful diamond ring. It cost £4,500 but I believe every girl deserves a bit of sparkle in their lives.

Who is the best person to follow on Twitter and why? Alan Carr. He’s hilarious and it’s important to keep laughing.

Favourite book? One Child, by Torey Hayden. An unbelievable story I would recommend to anyone.

When did you last cry? I last had a good cry watching a sad film with by husband.

What is your greatest achievement? My two beautiful children.

What's the best piece of advice in business you've ever been given? Cash is king, look after cash at all times.

Favourite animal and why? Unfortunately, with my hectic lifestyle, it wouldn’t be fair of me to have an animal, I do think polar bears are cute though.

Most famous person on your mobile phone? Chris Jason, from the BBC.

What was the last band you saw live? The Rolling Stones. More than 50 years on and they are still amazing performers.

Describe your perfect night in: Spending time with my husband playing a selection from the vinyl and dancing in the kitchen. This would have to be followed by a chicken kebab and an episode of Game of Thrones – we are both quite addicted.

In another life I would be... An interior designer.

Who would play you in a film of your life? I would play me, of course!

What irritates you? Slowness. I can be very impatient sometimes.

What's your secret talent? Balancing my hectic work schedule with my family life and passion for fitness.