A MANUFACTURER that only months ago was named Tees Valley Small Business of the Year has gone into liquidation with the loss of 12 jobs.

Chemitrol Process Equipment, which also won Government accliam after fighting back from the brink of closure two years ago, was wound up two weeks ago after going into voluntary liquidation.

It had won praise from the Government's foreign trade operation, UK Trade and Investment, after its orders grew by £1.3m in 18 months, and for its bulging order book.

Media group Trinity Mirror only months ago named the troubled company as Tees Valley small business of the year, going through as a finalist to the North-East Small Business of the Year competition.

Chemitrol's financial difficulties come a year after it was rescued by Francis Brown Limited, a firm based in Stockton.

A spokeswoman for Government News Network said insolvency practioners Taylor Rowlands was handling the winding-up of the business.

But a practitioner at Taylor Rowlands yesterday would not confirm whether his company was handling the liquidation and would give The Northern Echo no further details.

Chemitrol, which employed 12 people at its offices at Durham Lane Industrial Park, in Yarm, was praised for its successful turnaround at the business awards earlier this year.

The company, which specialised in the design and manufacture of nitrogen generators and air dryers for the oil, gas and process industries, was supported by UK Trade and Investment in a bid to find new orders abroad.

The firm, which saw orders grow from £1m to £2.3m in the past year-and-a-half, recently took part in a trip to the US.

Representatives from Chemitrol met US clients during the trade mission to Houston, in Texas.

Chemitrol managing director Glyn Evans said at the time the company was also looking at developing trade links in Australia.

Mr Evans said: "We are delighted with the awards and the prospect of new orders on the horizon. It is especially important to us because back in 2001 the company faced an uncertain future."

The company also recently took part in the Azeri Project, a large investment project in the Caspian region by BP and its partners.

It also designed and manufactured a nitrogen generator for gas processing in the area.