THE Tees Valley Mayor has visited a business in Stockton, which turned its focus to face coverings, hand sanitiser and aprons amid coronavirus, to congratulate bosses on 30 years of business and their recent "best ever sales performance".

Mayor Ben Houchen visited Stockton Bearings and Transmissions Ltd (SBT Ltd), based by Portrack Lane, after they pulled together to help provide PPE to those in need.

The business, set up in May 1990 by co-owners Martyn Semark and Patrick Hodgers, is known for distributing engineering and industrial products but recently turned their focus to face coverings, hand sanitiser and aprons.

They estimate that in one small period alone they distributed over half-a-million face masks, more than 700,000 millilitres of hand sanitiser and over 300,000 surgical aprons.

Their customers have included the NHS, police forces and councils as well as the public.

Mayor Houchen said: “I’m delighted to have visited such a great local business that has pulled together and seen the opportunity to build on the demand and distribution of much-needed equipment in the face of the pandemic.

“For a small business like this, with just nine employees to be going from strength to strength, year-on-year is inspiring for others to take note and I’m delighted to be congratulating them on 30 years in business - here’s to 30 years more. Their celebrations will be even more worthwhile when they finally do get to party.

“It’s fascinating to see that they’re still looking at ways to grow with the launch of the e-commerce platform and is another brilliant example of a business within Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool succeeding and growing through innovation and ambition.”

Dan Thurlwell of SBT Ltd added: “It’s been great to have Ben visit to hear of the fantastic achievements we’ve made this year. Although these times have been extremely challenging and difficult for all of us in the face of this awful pandemic, I am fiercely proud of our team for helping us achieve such great results.

“I look forward to seeing how our new e-commerce platform will grow our business even further and cementing our place in the region, and beyond, for another 30 years.”