Companies in Brighouse and Elland are today named among the very best businesses in Britain.

Elland-based A-Safe (UK) Ltd and Brighouse company Alco Valves Group have both won coveted Queen’s Awards for Enterprise.

The two firms have secured awards in the category for international trade – recognising their successes in securing export contracts overseas.

In addition, Eric Binns, enterprise officer at Calderdale Council, has secured a Queen’s Award for Enterprise Promotion for his work encouraging people to develop new businesses over the past 10 years.

And another Brighouse valvemaker, Severn Unival, played a part in its parent group winning a Queen’s Award, too.

A-Safe (UK) Ltd, based at Ainley Industrial Estate was formed in 1984 and manufactures polymer-based safety barriers and bollards to protect people and structures in settings such as warehouses, airports, car parks and loading bays.

The firm, led by founder and managing director James Smith, has increased exports as a percentage of total turnover from 10% to 38% in the last three years. A strategy of setting up overseas subsidiaries in key markets has led directly to a number of commercial successes – with Germany and France its two largest export markets. The company has sold barriers into 160 countries worldwide and now has 65 employees compared with 50 three years ago.

Mr Smith said: “We’re absolutely elated to be chosen as a winner of the UK’s highest accolade for business success and thrilled to be recognised as one of the best firms in the country for international trade.”

He said the company had “stumbled” on its safety barrier system almost by accident. “We began as manufacturers of shrink wrap in 1984 before developing extrusion skills that allowed us to move on to producing cores and plastic pallets,” he said. “One of those pallets was standing on its side in the office one day and we realised it looked like a fence. Fences turned into safety barriers,and that’s where our success story began.”

Alco Valves, which has more than 100 employees, was established in 1977 and makes products and accessories for the oil, gas and energy sectors.

Directors and employees at Alco Valves Group who are celebrating winning the Queen's Award for Enterprise
Directors and employees at Alco Valves Group who are celebrating winning the Queen's Award for Enterprise
 

It won the Queen’s Award for outstanding growth in overseas earnings over the past three years. The company has a strong presence in key markets established over its 35-year history and maintains close relationships with clients in order to understand and anticipate their needs.

It has sales offices, manufacturing plants, technical support offices and warehouses in Houston, Toronto and Calgary in North America and in the Middle East, South East Asia and the Far East. Managing director Stuart Lomax said: “We are very proud to win such a highly prestigious award. It is a real honour and well-deserved recognition of our team’s abilities and ongoing efforts. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank everyone, past and present, for their contributions in making Alco the success story it is today.”

Mr Binns is one of only eight individuals UK-wide to win Queen’s Awards. He has been involved in business support for 10 years – initially with Business Link and the Huddersfield-based Mid-Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce.

Since 2009, as business enterprise officer at Calderdale Council, he has been solely responsible for running a successful programme offering advice, guidance and support in self-employment. His work has helped support more than 600 start-ups across the district. Mr Binns has also worked as a volunteer business mentor with Business Link and Yorkshire Agricultural Society.

He said: “It is a great honour to receive this prestigious award. I am very grateful for the recognition for the role that I have played in new business support and promotion during the past 10 years”.

Brighouse-based valve firm Severn Unival has helped Leicestershire-based parent company Severn Glocon Group win its second Queen’s Award for International Trade in four years.

The award recognises the British manufacturer’s growth in overseas sales to the global oil and gas industry between 2010 and 2012 – during which time Severn Unival increased export sales by 21.8% to represent 35% of total turnover.

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