BUSINESS is hotting up in the East for a company which ensures Russian car seats are just the right temperature.

Sales manager Marcus Lux, of North Shields company Elmwood Sensors, is back from Russia - with a £200,000 order for thermostats for seat heaters on Lada cars.

The deal represents the latest dividend for Elmwood's policy of patient nurturing of markets in the former Soviet Union - and its focus on language skills and cultural awareness.

Elmwood Sensors employs about 240 people at its West Chirton Industrial Estate base, in North Tyneside, where it manufactures thermostats and temperature sensors for use in gas boilers and the automotive industry.

The Lada order is for the supply of 360,000 thermostats over ten months and represents the biggest order from the company to date.

Hamburg-born Mr Lux, whose sale area takes in Scandinavia, and Central and Eastern Europe, stressed the importance of language skills for Elmwood, which has been active in its markets for 25 years.

The company's focus on such skills has earned it recognition from the newly formed Regional Language Network, an initiative by the Languages National Training Organisation and One NorthEast.

One, and preferably two, key European languages are a prerequisite for sales staff and the six-member salesforce boasts fluency in five European languages besides English - German, French, Spanish, Italian and Russian.

Zlie Gurin, of the Regional Language Network, said that the firm's success was a textbook example of how investing in language and cultural awareness skills can pay dividends.

Details of the Regional Language Network can be found on its website at