A period of transformation and multi-million-pound investment secures Faltec Europe’s commitment to the North East

The NEAA catches up with new Plant Manager, Chris Fitzpatrick, to talk about Faltec Europe’s new home at the International Advanced Manufacturing Park (IAMP), its future growth and recruitment plans, and how it will continue to support the NEAA membership.

Tell us about Faltec Europe and the products you manufacture.

Faltec Europe Ltd is a Tier 1 supplier to global automotive manufacturers and part of the Japanese listed Faltec Group, with nine manufacturing plants worldwide.

We manufacture many of the plastic and metal trim products you see on the most popular cars on UK roads and are currently going through a period of transformation. Tens of millions of pounds has been invested in a purpose-built manufacturing facility at the IAMP in Sunderland, and state of the art plant and new machinery.

You are new to the role as Plant Manager at Faltec in Sunderland; how are you finding the role and what are your plans for the business?

I was promoted to the role of Plant Manager at the start of 2023, and so far it’s been a fast-paced, mentally-stimulating challenge, which is the environment I thrive in. Having spent two years as Production Manager, I thought I was stepping up with my eyes open, but there have been some surprises. As the operational lead, I have found it’s a lonelier position than I anticipated. I have really welcomed the opportunity to network with peers via the NEAA.

I have been working closely with the directors on two of our strategic priorities: to invest in our people, and to enhance operational efficiency via a digitisation and automation programme. The next ten years are going to see tremendous change for the sector and I know we will be ready to embrace the opportunities that brings.

You have a new purpose-built manufacturing facility at the IAMP, which is a nationally significant manufacturing park in Sunderland; what were the factors that influenced this move?

Faltec Europe had been a victim of its own success, growing over 30 years into a sprawling set of 5 units at its former site. The launch of Qashqai gave us the ideal opportunity to support our biggest customer, Nissan, by relocating to a state-of-the-art facility at IAMP. We knew that bringing all our operations under one roof and the opportunity to rethink all our process flows would bring countless efficiencies which would reshape Faltec for the next generation.