NEEN was established in the early 1980’s and was originally the Washington and District Employers Association. It was formed by Harry Townsend M.B.E who was appointed Job Centre Manger in Washington New Town.
Initially it was a vehicle for established companies in the area to meet new companies moving into the area. Early members were Durham Chemicals, Newalls Insulation, AEI Cables, Dunlop Tyres etc. New companies moving into the area included Timex Corporation making watches and they are now owned by Rayovac producing batteries. Howard Rotavators who made agricultural equipment, Danavox who produced hearing aides and Komatsu producing construction equipment.
When Nissan Motor Manufacturing UK came to the area they were impressed by the organisation and encouraged their supplier group to join and the door was thrown open to companies in Sunderland, Houghton le Spring, Peterlee etcThe focus of the organisation changed over the years, particularly with the input of ACAS and EEF who presented twice yearly updates on employment legislation.
The original venue for meetings was the Washington Arts Centre, then as the membership grew the venue changed to the George Washington Hotel. As work demands have changed meeting times also changed from lunchtime to breakfast meetings at the request of members.
Harry Townsend MBE led the group for twenty one years then passed on the post of Hon Secretary to Harry Chalmers and Marie Kingston followed by Steve Cave took who took on the role of Chair. Paul Cheetham took over the role of Chair from Steve in 2013. During the 1990’s Harry Chalmers via Kelburn Recruitment, Steve Cave via ACAS and Len Burns via the EEF were promoting the benefits of the association to a wider audience and the membership grew to include companies from Ashington in the North to Barnard Castle in the South. With the introduction of a website encouraged day to day networking of members and it was decided to rename the group the North East Employers Network or NEEN as it is commonly known.
Meetings are now held around five times per year and we try to vary the presenters and the topics, which are either chosen by our members.
The introduction of the website has allowed much more networking between companies which has greatly changed the value of the membership and support for the organisation continues to grow. A revamped website with increased networking facilities was introduced in September 2013.
Harry Chalmers retired in 2009 and Sandra Norman in now the current Hon Secretary. Harry returned to the committee in 2013 to act as Treasurer.