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 & Advisory Board

  • Kevin Fitzpatrick, Vice President Manufacturing UK, Nissan
  • Mike Mathews MBE, Managing Director & European Operations Officer, Nifco UK
  • Paul Butler, CEO, NEAA
  • Martin Porton, Operations Director, RTC North & NEAA Company Secretary
  • Matt Boyle President and CEO, Sevcon, & Chair of Skills Group
  • Peter Watson, Plant Manager, Kasai UK & Chair of Business Excellence Group
  • Stephen Irish, Managing Director, Hyperdrive
  • Peter Howe, Managing Director, Komatsu UK
  • Irene Lucas, Chief Executive, Sunderland City Council
  • Simon Elliot, Independent Director
  • Chris Willoughby, Plant Manager, Cummins UK
  • Colin Herron, Managing Director, Zero Carbon Futures
  • David Cann, General Manager UK, Mecaplast Group
  • Tom Hurst, Chief Investment Officer, Sunderland City Council
  • Tim Jayes, Plant Manager, ZF TRW
  • Matt Kirk, General Manager, Sumitomo Electric Wiring Systems
  • Brian Hughes, Manager Parts Quality Engineering, NMUK
  • Wayne Turnbull, Purchasing & Projects Manager, Faltec Europe
  • David Brander, Plant Director, SNOP
  • Rob Quine, Managing Director, The Explorer Group
  • David Land, Director, Drive2Business
  • Gerry Ingleby, General Manager, Unipres (UK)
  • Ian Malcolm, Managing Director, Elring Klinger (GB)
  • Jim Casey, Plant Manager, Lear Corporation Sunderland
  • John Barnett, Operations Director, Calsonic Kansei
  • John Hickling, Senior VP - Purchasing & SCM, Calsonic Kansei
  • Paul Blanchard, Manufacturing Director, Komatsu UK
  • Peter Gallone, Plant Director, Gestamp Tallent
  • Raymond Albert Tate, Manufacturing Director, Johnson Controls Automotive (UK)
  • Robin Finley, Plant Manager, ZF TRW
  • Sue Houston, Assistant Director, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy