John Elliott MBE,
John Elliott MBE, courtesy of Ebac

John Elliott is the executive chairman of Elliott Brothers Air Control (EBAC), one of the North East’s most successful manufacturing enterprises of recent times. He was born in Bishop Auckland and trained as an engineer. His father was a baker who died when John was just six months old.

The early part of John’s career was spent as a draughtsman, progressing to become an engineer, with Westair Dynamics. He left in 1972 to launch EBAC with his brothers following the promise of an order from Bovis to build industrial dehumidifiers suited to the UK climate. The company has since diversified into other sectors and now manufactures dehumidifiers, water coolers and washing machines. EBAC dehumidifiers are the market leading brand in the UK with cumulative sales of 1.25 million units.

John Elliott is a champion for manufacturing in the UK who believes the decline in the sector to have been not only regrettable but also avoidable, a consequence of failings in government policy and entrepreneurial failure due to fickle capitalism and lack of commitment to people and places. To this end, he has placed the ownership of EBAC into a foundation to ensure that the company cannot be sold or moved overseas, guaranteeing well-paid employment and training so long as the business remains commercially viable. Additionally, the foundation spends a proportion of the company’s profits on helping community groups. One of the trustees of the foundation is a local community representative who makes recommendations on good causes.

John Elliott was awarded an MBE in 1986 for his services to small businesses. When asked about his decision to gift his company to the foundation, Mr Elliott replied:

“Perhaps I should sell it all and retire to the south of France, but I believe that this innovative approach will deliver substantial reoccurring sums for community initiatives and enshrine our community ethos for the benefit of all.”


Ebac. (2018). John Elliott MBE DL - Executive Chairman of Ebac. Available here (Accessed: 07/03/2018).

Lynch, A. (2018). How I Made It: John Elliot, founder of Ebac, The Times, Available here (Accessed: 07/03/2018).

The Northern Echo. (2018). Businessman will use £30m fortune to benefit local community, Available here (Accessed: 07/03/2018).

The Sunday Times. (2018). The Sunday Times Rich List 2017. Available here (Accessed: 07/03/2018).