Dr René Hoyle, director and principal materials and corrosion engineer at Axiom Engineering Associates, tells The Northern Echo how the Stockton business is preparing itself for growth

THE notion that a global recession could be a great business opportunity seems strange, but for some courageous companies the post-2008 crash was a once-in-alifetime chance to expand their markets and develop new business.

And why limit yourself to existing markets?

Why not actively seek out new opportunities and build new partnerships?

Most people who start successful businesses are natural realists, who can see the positives as well as the negatives.

Here in the North-East - and Teesside in particular - several engineering companies have found that diversifying into other markets, particularly since the oil and gas industry cut backs following the crash, have been very beneficial.

Sadly, a number have not been sufficiently fleet of foot to do this and have ceased trading, but those which have been agile are finding new industries to work in and new opportunities to deliver their services.

As well as the process industry, Axiom Engineering Associates, which has a 52-strong workforce, has expanded its markets to include the green energy, automotive and pharmaceutical sectors - far removed from where it started.

Thanks to investments in technology, new equipment and, most importantly, the right people it has experienced tremendous growth.

Axiom is split into three divisions: inspection, materials engineering and mechanical engineering and offers inspection and testing, asset and risk management, corrosion testing, failure analysis and mechanical fitness-forpurpose assessments.

The company embraces new technology.

Drones have been in the news recently, and used correctly they can offer massive benefits.

For instance, a drone would be a much safer way of inspecting the damage to a semi-buried tank, which has suffered internal structural failures but where the concrete slab roof has remained in place.

Such technology is being used today and reducing the risks to personnel.

Soon Brexit will offer businesses another set of challenges and opportunities.

The ability to recruit and train is critical to modern engineering companies, as being able to find ‘off the shelf ’ employees is getting harder and will continue to do so when we leave Europe.

That’s why we at Axiom have already engaged with local academic institutions such as Teesside University and Stockton Sixth Form College to help resolve this issue, and we founded the Tees Engineering Network with other engineering companies in the area.

We are on the brink of a new age.

We at Axiom are trying to ensure this is an opportunity for Teesside to reinforce its position as a world leader in the engineering field.

Perhaps one of the upsides of Brexit will be a new generation of engineering talent nurtured right here on Teesside.