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The NEAA is led by a strong Executive and Advisory Board, who represent the diverse nature of the automotive industry.



Chairman, NEAA

Kevin Fitzpatrick, Nissan’s vice president for manufacturing in the UK

Kevin began his career as an apprentice fitter and turner with the Royal Ordnance Factory in Birtley, progressing to technician apprentice in 1977, and professional and technology officer in 1982. He was a winner of the Ministry of Defence "Tom Nevard Award" in 1979 whilst with the R.O.F.

In 1982, he left Royal Ordnance to become an industrial engineer with Huwood Ltd, moving on to production engineer in 1984, before leaving to join Nissan in 1985, to help set up the new manufacturing facility. His first role at NMUK was as a supervisor within the paint shop.

He was appointed plant engineering manager in 1995, facilities engineering manager in 1996, and vehicle quality assurance manager in 1997. In 1999 he moved across to become production manager, trim and chassis, and was appointed general manager, production, in February 2001. After his role as Production Director, Kevin became deputy managing director in 2007, followed by a promotion in April 2010 to Vice President, Manufacturing UK.

Vice Chairman, NEAA

Mike Matthews MBE, Managing Director & European Operations Officer, Nifco UK

Former apprentice Mike Matthews MBE was brought up on a council estate in Darlington, and has made his way from the shopfloor to the helm of one of the North East’s leading manufacturing businesses. He is currently Managing Director and European Operations Officer of thriving automotive component business Nifco UK Ltd.

A toolmaker by trade, Mike was appointed to his current position in 2008, making him the only non-Japanese member of Nifco’s international board. He took on European responsibilities in 2012.

During his time with Nifco, Mike has transformed the business from one that turned over just £300,000 to what will be a £75million company by 2016. With order books full for the next five years, the company moved into a state-of-the-art factory in Eaglescliffe in 2012, and quickly added to its floor space with a second facility, officially opened in 2014. The company plans to employ 550 by the end of 2015.

Executive Directors

  • Kevin Fitzpatrick, Divisional Vice President – European Manufacturing, Nissan & NEAA Chairman
  • Paul Butler, CEO, NEAA
  • Martin Porton, Operations Director, RTC North & NEAA Company Secretary
  • Mike Mathews MBE, Managing Director, Nifco UK & NEAA Vice Chair
  • Irene Lucas, Chief Executive, Sunderland City Council
  • Matt Boyle, Independant Director & Chair of Skills Group
  • Peter Howe, Managing Director, Komatsu UK
  • Peter Watson, Deputy MD - Plant Manager, Kasai UK & Chair of NEAA Business Competitiveness Group
  • Stephen Irish, Commercial MD, Hyperdrive

Advisory Board

  • Chris Willoughby, Plant Manager, Cummins UK
  • Colin Herron, Managing Director, Zero Carbon Futures
  • David Brander, Plant Director, SNOP
  • David Cann, General Manager UK, Mecaplast Group
  • David Land, Director, Drive2Business
  • Eddie Leng, Project Manager, NEAA
  • Gerry Ingleby, General Manager, Unipres (UK)
  • Ian Malcolm, Managing Director, Elring Klinger (GB)
  • Jason Penney, Site Manager, Lear Corporation
  • Jim Casey, Operations Director, Lear Corporation
  • John Barnett, Operations Director, Calsonic Kansei
  • John Hickling, Senior VP - Purchasing & SCM, Calsonic Kansei
  • Matt Kirk, General Manager, Sumitomo Electric Wiring Systems
  • Paul Blanchard, Manufacturing Director, Komatsu UK
  • Peter Gallone, Plant Director, Gestamp Tallent
  • Raymond Tate, Plant Manager, Adient
  • Rob Quine, Managing Director, The Explorer Group
  • Robin Finley, Plant Manager, ZF-TRW
  • Rohan Kohli, Graduate Manager, NEAA
  • Stuart McGivern, Project Manager, NEAA
  • Thomas Frater, Policy Team Leader (North East) - Cities & Local Growth Unit, BEIS and DCLG
  • Tim Jayes, Plant Manager, ZF-TRW
  • Tom Hurst, Chief Investment Officer, Sunderland City Council
  • Wayne Turnbull, Purchasing & Projects Manager, Faltec Europe