It is with great sadness we announce the death of Rodney (Rod) Taylor on 28 January.
Taylor was born on 23 July 1951 in Nairobi, Kenya to Scottish parents. He returned to the UK in the early 1960s to settle in the North East.
A chartered engineer, FIET, with a BSc in Electronic Engineering gained at the University of Nottingham, Taylor spent his early career with roles in engineering and marketing initially working for Aquatronics before taking up a position with the American Company, Sperry Rand.
A natural entrepreneur, he began to branch out with his own instrumentation products, which in the very early years often involved selling test equipment he had designed during the morning and assembled in the afternoon.
With the support of his father, in 1982 Taylor started a fledgling instrumentation business, Seaward Electronic, and set up operations in Peterlee, County Durham, building a highly successful company supplying test and measurement equipment to the electricity boards, power companies and public utilities.
Under Taylor’s leadership the Seaward business flourished, pushing the boundaries of electrical test technology, spotting new opportunities early and developing the ability to bring new technologies to the market very quickly.
This dynamic, pioneering approach was based on a strong reputation for innovation and allowed the family-owned company to compete successfully in global markets against much bigger, multinational businesses and brands.
Market expansion followed into the electrical safety, biomedical, appliance manufacturing and renewables sectors and new offices were opened in the USA and the Far East.
Successful export sales became a growing and important feature of the business, with products eventually being sold into over 60 countries, leading to a Queens Award for Export for the company in 2012.
A passionate supporter of the North East economy, throughout the growth of Seaward, Taylor also remained sensitive to the broader responsibilities of businesses and employers, and was particularly enthusiastic about bringing jobs to the area and raising the aspirations of young people.
He was an early board member when Training & Enterprise Councils were created in the early 1990s, and was involved in the North East Manufacturing Challenge initiative that showcased the region’s technology and engineering businesses around the same time.
He was also formerly chair of technology transfer specialist RTC North and in 2006, as chair of CBI North East and working alongside David Miliband then MP for South Shields, he was the driving force behind the Aspire campaign that encouraged local businesses to reassure young people that they need look no further than North East England for a bright future.
He was the national chair of the instrumentation industry trade association Gambica from 2007 to 2009 and was awarded an MBE for services to industry in 2009.
Seaward business was acquired by Metrawatt International GmbH in June 2015. The company he built-up remains in Peterlee and continues to thrive as a successful and independent operating unit in a growing international business.