A HEARING aid battery maker is celebrating 25 years manufacturing in the North-East. .

Washington company Rayovac, which is the world’s number one selling hearing aid battery manufacturer, employs almost 200 people at its Washington factory, many of whom are long-standing employees.

To mark the occasion there was a staff celebration to thank the whole team for their contribution to its success.

Rayovac continues to pioneer the way in zinc air hearing aid battery technology.

It first started producing zinc air batteries in 1989, however the plant was first opened in 1976 and initially manufactured watch batteries for watch maker Timex. Since then, the company has continued to invest in technology to enhance its products in line with new developments in the industry, and now exports millions of batteries around the world every year, from the Washington plant

General manager, Glen Rutherford, said: “When we first began producing zinc air hearing batteries in the 1980s, it was a fairly new concept and since then, we have been at the forefront of this technological revolution. The success of our zinc air product has meant that we have been able to continually invest in job creation and new developments here at our Washington plant.

“We’re delighted to be celebrating with our whole team who have played such a fundamental part in the success of our company over the years. We’ve got a great company ethos and team spirit here at our Washington plant, and I’d like to say a huge thank you to all our staff. Each and every one of the team help us continue to lead the way in the manufacturing of this essential product, which supports millions of people around the world.”

Many of the Rayovac team have been with the company for a high number of years, including longest-serving staff member Alan Stevenson, who has witnessed many of Rayovac’s key milestones over the years.

Since joining the company almost 42 years ago, the press shop engineer has been providing technical support and knowledge to the press shop toolmaking team as well as improving new methods and designs.

Mr Stevenson, said: “It’s remarkable to see how much things have changed over the years. If you look at my role in the Press Tooling department, its evolution over the years has seen the volume increase 10-fold. There has been a major change in technology over the past 40 years, moving from pencil and paper drawing to using computers and working in 3D, along with measuring components with lasers and vision systems. To continue Rayovac’s success, the whole team has had to adapt with the times.

“Rayovac has made a significant contribution to zinc air battery manufacturing and it’s fantastic to see how successful this product has been over such a long period of time. Sunderland has had many ups and downs but Rayovac has continued to grow through the recession and help support the region.

“I have always felt secure in my job and have been a part of many great teams over the years. My job is a challenge but it’s very rewarding. The people I work with are a key factor in terms of why I’ve been at Rayovac for so long. Everyone pulls together and we have a great team ethic. Here’s to the next 25 years.”