Peterlee-based businessman, Richard Swart, has agreed to take on the role of chair of the Advanced Manufacturing Forum (AMF).

The global sales and quality director of Berger Group in Peterlee will be a key spokesperson for the forum, amplifying the voice of members and publicly discussing issues impacting them such as skills and commodity shortages and the challenges of Brexit.

Two vice-chairs have also been appointed to support the AMF’s new growth strategy and to strengthen its position as a voice for North East manufacturing companies.

Rachel Mansfield has come in as vice-chair and existing board member Alan Metcalfe has been promoted to vice-chair.

Established by the private sector in 2006, the AMF is a membership network that offers a single voice on behalf of the manufacturing community in the North-East.

It engages with its members and the wider business community to drive growth, champion innovation and be a platform for the sharing of best practice and collaboration.

The significant board appointments are the first step in line with the AMF’s strategy to further increase membership and expand its member base from North East SME manufacturing organisations to also include engineering and supply chain organisations.

Richard Swart, who featured on Wear Business magazine’s front cover earlier this year, has more than 30 years of industry experience.

That knowledge is bolstered by his work in creating the Open North Foundation (ONF) last summer – a not-for-profit organisation he also chairs, set up to support North-East businesses negatively impacted by the coronavirus pandemic with free grants and training through strategic partnerships.

He said: “The AMF plays a vital role in connecting businesses in the North East and I’m delighted to be joining the AMF board.

“Like many other businesses the AMF has been impacted by Covid-19 but through strategic planning, we will build its member base above pre-pandemic levels and expand the organisations it supports with its collaborative approach.

“A core strength of the AMF is that it offers a direct route for businesses to support each other throughout the manufacturing and engineering industries and supply chain.
“I look forward to strengthening this benefit to members with more events and opportunities to collaborate and learn from each other.

“The Open North Foundation has supported a number of North East businesses impacted by Covid-19 with resources and so, I’m looking forward to supporting more businesses and providing them with a voice to air their views and any issues they are facing with a view to
finding ways to solve problems or raise with appropriate authorities.”

The AMF has a track record of bringing together manufacturing businesses in the North East and providing opportunities for the sharing of best practice and steering discussions on topical issues.

It offers its members a range of benefits and access to industry experts and it encourages peer-to-peer networking and collaboration, delivering a number of events, from its monthly meetings to focussed forums with guest speakers.

Membership is open to all North East based manufacturing, engineering, and supply chain organisations; the AMF also offers associate and educational memberships.