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Business & Economy

The Last Word: Charlie Nettle

Closing this month’s issue of North East Times Magazine, Charlie Nettle, group managing director designate at AV Dawson, talks about his new role, the responsibilities that come with overseeing the next chapter in a third-generation company’s history and his delight at the momentum building across Teesside’s business sector.


Congratulations on your new role. Tell us a little more about what it entails

My role is to protect what we’ve built over the last 80 years and inspire the next generation of leaders to take the company forward and create a lasting legacy.

To do this, I’ll be building on a strong values-driven culture that we’ve been actively embedding in the business over recent years.

We’ve been planning this chapter of AV Dawson’s evolution for some time.

This year marks the final one of a four-year programme to create a group structure, launching four subsidiary companies under the AV Dawson parent company.

The last of these companies is Port of Middlesbrough Limited, which in October will evolve from simply being the brand name for our site, to becoming a trading company.

Moving to a group structure was about creating more opportunity for individual colleagues, while reducing business risk by not delivering the diverse portfolio of port services, on-site logistics, ships agency, road haulage and property through one company.

My priority will be to enable each of these subsidiaries to be successful, sustainable businesses, while supporting the wider group.


As a third-generation business, AV Dawson has expanded over the decades under family leadership. Against that backdrop, how significant a move is your appointment, and how excited are you to have been chosen to drive its next growth phase?

AV Dawson is one of the largest, longest-standing family businesses in Teesside, so of course it’s a major step for Gary (Dawson) to move from managing director to chair and appoint me in to this new role.

I feel genuinely honoured and excited, and recognise the trust Gary is putting in me to ensure AV Dawson continues to be the unique business it is.

I’m already feeling the responsibility on my shoulders – not only to Gary and the Dawson family past and present, but also to my 200 colleagues, our customers and local community.


With a CV that complements time at AV Dawson with a number of years at the North East England Chamber of Commerce, you are very familiar with the region’s ever-evolving business landscape, its challenges and opportunities. Using that knowledge and insight, just how strong do you believe the area’s business sector is, and where do you see potential for further success?

I have never seen the energy, positivity and potential that we’re seeing in the region right now, particularly in Teesside.

There always seemed to be a gravitation towards Newcastle and its thriving professional services sector.

I know people will feel this was driven by the Chamber, but having had a backstage pass, I could see there were other dynamics at play.

Teesside’s business community seemed harder to engage and bring together.

Of course, there were individual business successes, but these organisations, whether large corporates or SMEs, often didn’t seem to want to shout about themselves – they just quietly and modestly got on with the job.

And then Teesside seemed to unite and find a voice.

The key turning point for me was in May 2017, when the Tees Valley elected its first mayor.

I felt that even if the mayor did nothing more than talk up Teesside at various events outside the region, this would deliver huge benefit.

The mayoral model has certainly worked, and it has united people too.

Teesside hasn’t tried to be something it’s not.

Instead, it’s recognised its strengths, what makes it different from everywhere else and has started shouting about it.