A Gateshead firm whose exports leapt from near zero to almost 80 per cent of total sales in just three years has joined an elite club of global businesses.

Specialist steel pipe, tube and fitting supplier RTR GmbH & Co. KG was one of only around 200 companies to earn this year’s highest official UK award for British business – the prestigious annual Queen’s Award for Enterprise.

RTR collected its award from the Lord-Lieutenant of Tyne and Wear Mrs Susan Winfield, OBE, during a special visit to the company’s offices on the banks of the River Tyne at Keel Row on September 10. The Lord-Lieutenant is Her Majesty the Queen’s representative in Tyne and Wear.

Company representatives also attended a royal reception at Buckingham Palace in June and are invited to a gala dinner at London’s Fishmongers’ Hall later this month hosted by the Institute of Export & International Trade.

Receiving the award, joint Managing Director and co-owner of RTR, Philip Ross said: “We are deeply honoured to have been recognised for this award, which is the result of huge commitment and a great deal of work by everyone in the team.

“With changes in our domestic market over recent years it was essential we developed overseas customers. We are delighted with the response we have received from these territories and we see export as a fundamental part of our growth strategy.

“In the 35 years I have worked with RTR, I have witnessed first-hand the strength of our collaboration with our customers and supply chain alike. In that time, we have moved into a number of exciting areas, including nuclear, biomass, waste to energy and other renewable processes. Our challenge is to continue to innovate and expand the level of service we deliver to our clients, both domestic and internationally.”

Originally founded in Germany in 1969 as a supplier of steel pipes and tubes, RTR quickly expanded and chose Tyneside as its first subsidiary in 1977. The organisation now has offices across Europe and Australasia and has developed specialist engineering and metallurgical knowledge in sectors including power plant repair and maintenance within nuclear, coal, gas and biomass, as well as waste to energy, chemical and petrochemical. Its Gateshead operation employs seven.

But winning a Queen’s Award means more than just getting a scroll, a crystal trophy and being able to fly The Queen’s Award flag at the main office. Past Queen’s Awards winners have reported benefiting from worldwide recognition, increased commercial value, greater exposure and a boost to staff morale. Research also shows nearly 73% of past international trade winners attribute the Queen’s Awards to increased international sales.

Plus, according to the Institute of Export & International Trade, winners in the trade category are an important example to the thousands of exporting businesses who aren’t yet fully prepared for Brexit.

“Never has it been more important for businesses to look overseas to emerging markets beyond the EU for growth opportunities, and the trade winners show what can be done with proper planning and endeavour,” (their press release stated.i)

The Lord-Lieutenant of Tyne and Wear said ‘The Queen’s Award for Enterprise is considered to be the UK’s most prestigious business award and is designed to acknowledge and encourage outstanding achievements; any company carrying The Queen’s Award logo receives a warm welcome throughout the business community, nationally and internationally. On behalf of Her Majesty, I am delighted to present The Queen’s Award for Enterprise to RTR GmbH in recognition for their outstanding overseas sales in the last three years.’