Ten years ago plans to create the perfect platform to showcase the North East’s growing strengths and capabilities within the engineering and manufacturing sectors were announced.

That platform was Durham Oktoberfest.

The name took inspiration from the world-famous Munich beer festivals, the idea being that companies within the sectors would come together to promote themselves to potential clients and suppliers.

A decade on and not only is Durham Oktoberfest recognised as being the region’s leading event within these industries, two of the most economically important to the North East’s continued growth and prosperity; it is also a proven conduit to business expansion.

Companies around the region have won business on the back of attending, including Bowburn-based Altec, Stanley company Dyer Engineering, who have been involved from the start, E-Max Systems from Darlington, Blaydon-based Impress Group, EDM Zone from Newcastle and Newton Aycliffe logistics firm Stiller.

All come back year after year as they know the event, now held at Newton Aycliffe’s Xcel Centre, is the perfect opportunity to make new connections and chat to businesses who could potential require their services.

David Land, Chairman of County Durham Engineering and Manufacturing Network, which organises Durham Oktoberfest, said: “Durham Oktoberfest is the perfect platform to showcase the North East’s vast capabilities within the engineering and manufacturing sectors.

“But more than that, it offers businesses the chance to meet potential buyers, suppliers and customers which we know can and does lead to work.

“Just recently we revealed that logistics company Stiller had secured a six-figure contract with Marmax Products as a direct result of attending last year’s event. And they’re one of many businesses who have seen their portfolio grow from being part of our event.”

Marmax Products based in Stanley attended Durham Oktoberfest for the first time in 2016.

During the event, bosses met representatives from Stiller and after several meetings and a review of existing provision, Marmax decided to make changes to improve its own offering.

Production Manager Paul King said: “I am always looking at ways to improve our efficiency and reduce costs, which ultimately means we can offer our customers a better service.

“After Oktoberfest I met with the team at Stiller to learn more and quickly became sure they were right for us. Appointing them as our distributors was an easy decision in the end.”

Marmax, which was launched 16 years ago and now employs 26 people, makes a wide range of products for companies and organisations across the country including the Dogs Trust, the Angling Trust and Battersea Dogs Home, as well as schools, theme parks, pubs, restaurants and local authorities.

The contract with Stiller is worth around £150,000 and means Marmax can guarantee a quicker turnaround in product delivery.

Both companies are returning to Oktoberfest this year, with the event taking place on Thursday, October 19.

This year’s event is once again being supported by Business Durham as gold sponsor, while Nigel Wright Recruitment has also come on board as an associate partner.