Examiner Business Awards 2012: Meet the winners from a night that showcased success in Huddersfield

EVERYONE’S a winner!

Gerald Ratner at the Examiner Business Awards

EVERYONE’S a winner!

A capacity audience celebrated success at the Examiner Business Awards last night.

There was ecstatic applause as the winners stepped onto the stage at the John Smith’s Stadium to receive their trophies and certificates.

The glittering black-tie event honoured the winners in 10 fiercely-contested categories, including ones for new businesses, small and medium-sized enterprises, exporting, innovation and enterprise.

Sectors represented by the winners and a crop of high-calibre runners-up included manufacturing, IT services, retailing, hospitality, business services, property development and food production.

The prestige award of the night – Business Person of the Year – went to a delighted Nick Brown, chairman of FMG, the fleet performance improvement specialist.

The award was presented by Jeremy Garside, managing partner of law firm Chadwick Lawrence, which sponsored the category as well as being sponsor for the overall awards.

Mr Garside praised Mr Brown for his commitment to the business he built from small beginnings, its workforce and local community causes – and quipped: "A die-hard Spurs fan, his loyalty in all other things is to Huddersfield!"

Mr Brown worked in the insurance, catering and clothing industries before running a small vehicle leasing company in partnership with a local dealer and then going on to represent the firm in the south of England.

Returning to buy out his partner, he expanded the firm’s interests to encompass a wider range of fleet management services before realising an ambitious plan to build a new headquarters in 2002 at St Andrew’s Road.

Today, the company he built is the UK’s leading independent fleet performance improvement specialist – working with loyal and long-standing customers including GE, DHL, Carlsberg and Royal Mail across its two key service areas of fleet incident management and roadside repair and recovery management.

Said Mr Garside: "Under his leadership, the company has grown to become the hugely successful and respected name it is today.

"With his entrepreneurial determination, our winner has led by example in driving himself and his people to find new ways of resolving business challenges for its clients."

Accepting the award, Mr Brown said: "I feel very humble. In the last 15 to 20 years of developing the business we have had many more successful years than this one. It has been incredibly tough as it has for everyone.

"But the reason we have been successful is that we have an incredible team of people, incredibly committed from the friends I have on the board to the front line personnel."

Guests at the awards ceremony were welcomed by Examiner editor Roy Wright, who remarked: "It doesn’t seem 12 months ago that we were last here to celebrate the successes of our hard-working, enterprising local companies. But good things just keep on coming and the 2012 awards have brought another crop of high-calibre businesses to the fore."

Click on the link below to open a picture gallery from the event featuring all the winners

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On a night of highs, guest speaker Gerald Ratner recalled his lowest moment in business. The former head of jewellery chain Ratners recounted what was later called "the worst moment in corporate history" – when he gave a too-honest appraisal of one of the firm’s products, which he described as "total crap".

Mr Ratner, who recovered to establish successful online jewellery businesses on both sides of the Atlantic, said: "I became the tabloids’ punchbag."

He found himself Number 1 in a list of the 50 Worst Mistakes in Business and "Doing a Ratner" became a stock phrase for putting your foot in it, big style.

But he joked: "I’d never won an award before. And I am only known for that one mistake 20 odd years ago but I have made many mistakes that I am not credited for because that one was so big."

He told the audience he had applied for 20 jobs and got 21 refusals, saying; "It dawned on me that I would have to be my own boss."

When he wanted to open a health club, he went to the banks but nobody was listening. So he advertised memberships and got 800 people to sign up before he’d even secured the premises.

Three years later, he sold the business for £3.9m.

Mr Ratner started selling jewellery on-line in 2001 but found he couldn’t even use his own surname. So he called the business Gerald online, hired publicist Max Clifford and got three million hits generating sales of £35m in the firm’s first Christmas of trading.

The awards ceremony was hosted by BBC Look North’s Harry Gration who said: "I have seen these awards grow over the years and they are now one of the business occasions of the year."

Guests included category sponsors and award judges, several past winners of the Business Person of the Year Award and leading figures from the local business community.

Now find out the winners from the night by clicking on the next page

Examiner Business Awards 2012: Nick Brown – Business Person of the Year

THE man who drove his business forward to create one of Huddersfield’s most successful companies of modern times lifted the night’s most prestigious trophy.

Nick Brown, chairman of fleet performance improvement specialist FMG, worked in the insurance, catering and clothing industries before launching a career in the world of cars.

But he was quick to praise his employees.

“I feel so humbled,’’ he said. “I don’t come from Huddersfield but have been here for 20 years and I’m continually amazed at how committed people are and the passion they show.

“When I was in London people went home after work and didn’t give a damn. Here they care so much.’’

He revealed that yesterday he gave 10-year awards to the 33rd and 34th people on his staff who had reached that milestone.

He added: “I have seen them grow, develop their lives, face so many challenges and work so hard to make the business so successful. I feel so wonderfully supported and am so grateful to all those people who have been with me for so long.’’

Mr Brown built on the modest foundations of a small vehicle leasing company to create Huddersfield’s second-largest private sector employer – covering the areas of fleet incident management and roadside repair and including major clients such as GE, DHL, Carlsberg and Royal Mail.

The company also secured and retained the UK’s first National Vehicle Recovery Manager contract from the Highways Agency.

Mr Brown’s achievements include realising an ambitious plan to build a new headquarters in 2002 at St Andrew’s Road.

An avid believer in training and development, he has also been instrumental in instilling his own brand of enthusiasm, ethos and work ethic among the firm’s employees and demonstrates the best in corporate social responsibility by supporting community causes.

With Mr Brown at the helm, FMG has grown from a small regional business to an industry-leading organisation operating at a national level.

He is also proud to be based in Huddersfield – and to be making a contribution towards the economic well-being of the town and the region.

Click on the link below to open a picture gallery from the event featuring all the winners

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Examiner Business Awards 2012: PC Specialist Ltd – Kirklees Stadium Development SME of the Year

DANNY Williams is 27 and managing director of the firm he started as a teenager building computers in his bedroom at home.

He couldn’t believe that the Brockholes company had won the award against “great” competition.

But the young businessman might not have been at the awards ceremony at all had it not been for his finance manager, Judy O’Brien who had to persuade him to enter.

“Every year the forms come through the post but this is the first time that I’ve persuaded Danny to enter,” said a delighted Judy.

The company is enjoying success providing a wide range of IT services to businesses and the education sector.

PC Specialist Ltd lists many of the UK’s leading universities, schools and colleges and small firms among its customers.

The firm is a Microsoft Silver OEM Hardware Partner and a Platinum Intel Technology Provider. It keeps close links with manufacturers and distributors to ensure the firm is kept informed about product changes.

One such close relationship, with Clevo, a leading manufacturers of quality laptop chassis, has led to a sizeable increase in laptop sales. From January last year, PC Specialist has been importing from Clevo directly and in bulk – increasing the range available and reducing cost.

The firm is also planning a move to new premises in order to expand the business.

Also nominated in the category sponsored by Kirklees Stadium Development Ltd were Towndoor Ltd and Balance Accountants Ltd

Examiner Business Awards 2012: Principle Group – Walker Singleton Business of the Year

A COMPANY celebrating 25 years in business has grown to encompass the world.

Principle Group, based at Waterloo, was formed in 1987 in a rented office at an old Scissett mill to offer a management service for changing signs on commercial buildings.

Today it employs 185 people and occupies purpose-built facilities to offer a broad range of consulting, project management, production and implementation services to some of the world’s most prestigious organisations in a variety of sectors.

The group has expanded to include offices in Leeds, Northampton and Redditch in the UK and sites in Knoxville, USA, Munich, San Paolo, Shanghai and France. Next year sees the opening of a new office in India.

Principle Group has carried out work for clients including Barclays Bank, HSBC, Xerox and Wembley Stadium.

Finance director Victoria Woodings said the company was thrilled to win and would proudly display the trophy in its reception.

And she also revealed how Principle Group supports its chosen charity the Forget Me Not Children’s Hospice.

“We do lots of fundraising from jumping out of planes to dress down Fridays and even have bake-offs between our offices to see who can make the best,’’ she said.

Also nominated in the category, sponsored by Walker Singleton, were Disposables UK and Buy It Direct

Click on the link below to open a picture gallery from the event featuring all the winners

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Examiner Business Awards 2012: Moin Valli - Fantastic Media Young Business Person of the Year

THE founder of an independent opticians’ practice has ambitious plans to realise his vision for further success in business.

Moin Valli, 34, became a qualified optometrist in 2000 and worked for five years as a locum at various practices as well as establishing an optical recruitment agency.

He founded the Valli Group in 2005 when he was 27 by acquiring three practices in Lockwood, Honley and Meltham, adding two more in Cleckheaton and Mytholmroyd over the next few years.

Starting from three practices, turnover of £350,000 and eight staff in 2005, Moin now has seven practices, 25 staff and anticipated turnover of £1.2m by the end of 2012.

“The award is not just for me, I am just the face of the business but I have a great staff and team behind me,” he said.

“We have ambitious plans going forward and we are in negotiations to buy practice number eight and will launch an e-commerce website selling niche optical products by April or June.”

Moin paid tribute to his wife, Rachel, for her role in supporting the business and said: “I have picked up the award but this is for her as much as it is for me.”

Also nominated in the category, sponsored by Fantastic Media, were Towndoor Ltd and Eric’s Restaurant.

Examiner Business Awards 2012: Exract Technology – HSBC International Business of the Year

A COMPANY which has achieved significant export growth put its success down to a new overseas office.

Extract Technology, which makes containment systems for the pharmaceutical, healthcare, biotech and chemical sectors and employs 65 people at Bradley embarked on a major initiative to boost its overseas sales still further in the face of tough global markets and those in the UK and Ireland.

The company diversified its product range and strengthened its sales focus in key geographical areas, including Europe and South East Asia.

As a result, Extract exceeded its goal of 50% growth in sales of isolator products to the European market and 10% growth in South East Asia.

The company also appointed a Singapore-based employee to oversee sales in South East Asia and opened a sales office in Singapore.

General manager Alan Wainwright said: “This is an award for all our hard work. We were shortlisted last year and this is a very difficult category with great competition.

“The secret of our success is that we involve everyone in the business.’’

Also nominated in the category sponsored by HSBC were Denford Ltd and Principle Group

Click on the link below to open a picture gallery from the event featuring all the winners

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Examiner Business Awards 2012: Colne Valley Garden Centre – Sandal BMW/Mini Huddersfield Green Award

A GREEN-FINGERED business is helping to nurture interest in the environment.

Colne Valley Garden Centre is contributing to “green” issues though its commercial, charitable and community activities.

The business, run by the Walker family, has invested in the buildings, stock, advertising, training and staff recruitment to double turnover.

Colne Valley Garden Centre gets the green message across through its close links with local schools and by supporting toddlers’ groups and garden clubs.

The firm has also developed an environmental policy to reduce gas, electricity and water consumption as well as waste going to landfill.

Jon Walker, managing director of the company, said the business had made progress over the years in its ecological aims but he hoped there was still more that could be done.

He said the award was recognition of what had already been achieved but it was always a matter of balancing environmental, community and commercial issues.

Also nominated in the category sponsored by Sandal BMW/Mini were E Stott & Sons Ltd and YorkshireEnergy Services

Examiner Business Awards 2012: Kirkwood Hospice – The Pink Link Employer of the Year

DEVELOPING all staff and volunteers to their full potential is the aim for bosses at Kirkwood Hospice.

The hospice, which provides palliative and end-of-life care, has more than 100 staff members and more than 700 volunteers.

Joint chief executive Christine Springthorpe said: “To win this award is unbelievable and it’s all down to our committed staff and volunteers.’’

All staff work through a Knowledge and Skills Framework, an initiative from the NHS which identifies common themes for staff to be able to demonstrate progress in their development year-on-year.

This is linked to a yearly appraisal where core themes are discussed, any gaps in knowledge identified and a training plan agreed.

All new staff also attend an induction programme during the first month of their employment.

Training is also given to the hospice’s retail team, including team-building programmes to focus on communication, organisation, goals and strategic planning.

Also nominated in the category sponsored by The Pink link were Holiday Inn Leeds Brighouse and Britannia Rescue.

Click on the link below to open a picture gallery from the event featuring all the winners

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Examiner Business Awards 2012: Wellhouse Leisure – David Brown Huddersfield “Place to Make It Award”

HUDDERSFIELD advocate David Elliott has picked up an award for the second successive year.

David, 41, was last year’s Young Business Person of the Year and is so proud of Huddersfield he has even had The Place To Make it logo tattooed on his shoulder.

His firm manufacturing camper vans takes the name of Huddersfield out on the road.

He said: “It takes a lot of hard work but we are trying to raise the profile of Huddersfield. There has been some pain, tears and baby cream on the way to stop my shoulder hurting.’’

Shepley-based Wellhouse Leisure Ltd has launched itself on the export market following a two-year project to build camper vans for Hyundai UK. This year, Wellhouse Leisure has built about 80 Hyundai and 70 Japanese vehicles. Next year, it expects to build 50 to 200 vehicles alone for Hyundai UK.

The company has made presentations to product marketing managers from Belgium, Sweden, Holland, Spain, Germany and Switzerland and has completed its first export orders to Sweden and New Zealand.

Also nominated in the category, sponsored by David Brown, were Disposables UK and Yummy Yorkshire Ice Cream Company.

Examiner Business Awards 2012: Asquith Butler – University of Huddersfield Innovation and Enterprise Award

A MACHINE tool manufacturer says its ‘first-class’ workforce has helped it to win this award.

Brighouse-based Asquith Butler, which works with such prestigious names as Rolls Royce, JCB and BAE Systems, traces its roots back more than 140 years and has its eyes fixed firmly on the future.

The company supplies bespoke “state of the art” multi-axis machines to meet the ever-increasing demands of modern manufacturing requirements.

Operating from modern, purpose-built assembly and test facilities at Brookfoot, it uses the very latest computer-aided design and analysis software to provide complete design solutions.

It also specialises in engineered projects manufactured to exacting standards for customers in the aerospace, automotive and general engineering sectors in the UK, Europe and across the globe.

Managing director Paul Hinchliffe said: “We have won this award in the face of great competition.

“We have been around since 1865 and really tried to develop into niche markets because we cannot continue with volume production so we work closely with our clients.

“We wouldn’t be here without the strong calibre of engineers that we have. They are really first class.”

Also nominated in the category sponsored by the University of Huddersfield were Denford Ltd and Future Polymers

Click on the link below to open a picture gallery from the event featuring all the winners

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Examiner Business Awards 2012: Huddersfield Town – Stafflex Community Award

HUDDERSFIELD Town is taking pride in its local community.

The club has undertaken a wide range of charity work and community initiatives.

Its charity work has included raising more than £370,000 this year for the Yorkshire Air Ambulance and the club’s Academy through a variety of fundraising efforts.

These included a mammoth bike ride of more than 250 miles from Yeovil to a Town match – a venture involving more than 280 supporters.

Commercial director Sean Jarvis said: “The work we do in the community is second to none and proves we are more than just a football club.

“The club reaches out to the community and we will continue to do the right thing by the community.

“We have been celebrated by the Football League and it is nice to receive an award from our local newspaper.”

Town also has a charity, club and schools partnership to share its business practice with others and has held dedicated match days for charities such as Help for Heroes and The Forget Me Not Children’s Hospice.

Club community initiatives have included a children’s gardening competition and a successful schools’ Go Kart Challenge

Also nominated in the category sponsored by Stafflex were One17 Design and Britannia Rescue

 

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