Duco Digital Ltd, a young digital media marketing company, is now settled happily into its brand new office after winning a business competition run by UK Steel Enterprise, the Tata Steel business-support subsidiary, and the Tees Gazette.

The prize of a year’s free office accommodation in UKSE’s prestigious Innovation Centre on the Kirkleatham Business Park at Redcar was awarded after the company fought off competition from a range of fledgling businesses across Tees Valley.

Duco Digital was started in October last year by Darren Winter and Matt Dowling who live in Redcar. It offers affordable and expert digital marketing services, from website design, branding and logos to social media marketing and training workshops, for businesses from all sectors.

The company was chosen by judges Simon Hamilton, Managing Director of UK Steel Enterprise, Area Manager Sarah Thorpe and the Gazette business team.

“We saw the competition in the Gazette’s Q1 magazine but never expected to win,” said Darren, “as we know there are many exciting new businesses in the area.”

Duco Digital has already secured its first international client – a Philippines-based company looking to launch children’s clothing and sportswear in the UK – and plans are in hand to start working with the DTI on securing other international projects.

On Teesside the company is helping numerous clients with their marketing strategies. A re-designed website for Coast & Moors Nordic Walking includes a facility for booking classes online and, further afield, an insurance company in Telford with a £1m plus turnover is being advised on using social media to boost business.

“The business started up around our full-time jobs and was still home-based but we really needed office space and moved in to the Innovation Centre just as fast as we could,” said Darren. “We plan to take on an apprentice this year and being in a professional office environment with the facilities and support from the UK Steel Enterprise team is fantastic.”

A pioneer in the provision of managed business premises, UK Steel Enterprise provides affordable office and workshop space in purpose-built centres with a whole range of facilities. Duco Digital is already planning to use the well-equipped meeting rooms to provide a range of workshops for local businesses, including free taster sessions.

“Not only does this win help us to expand and start to create jobs but it also means we can help other businesses to become more digitally aware and competitive and contribute to growing the economy too,” said Darren.

“We get real satisfaction from helping companies create a marketing strategy that works and training for businesses is an area where we see real potential for growth.”

With wide experience in senior management in the retail and leisure sectors and a degree in computing from Teesside University Darren also studied part-time to gain an MA in Cross Cultural Communication and International Marketing at Newcastle University where the original idea for Duco Digital was born.

“Winning the competition and knowing that the judges had confidence in us is a real boost,” said Darren. “We are now part of a friendly business community and can concentrate all our time on growing the business without worries about premises.”

Sarah Thorpe of UK Steel Enterprise said: “We know that the young, growing businesses really benefit from the environment, facilities and support we provide at our Innovation Centres in Redcar and Hartlepool. Many of our tenants have expanded here then moved into their own premises and are successfully competing in global markets and creating valuable jobs.

“We were looking for a business with the potential and commitment to grow and make a real contribution to the local economy. Duco Digital already has its first international client, plans to take on an apprentice and is helping other local businesses to grow too.

“We are very pleased to have had the opportunity to work alongside the Gazette and Q1 magazine and to see that the competition has helped a business with real potential,” she added.

PICTURE CAPTION: Sarah Thorpe welcomes competition winners Matt Dowling (left) and Darren Winter to their office at the Innovation Centre, Redcar.

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