Examiner Business Awards: Outstanding businesses on a fabulous night

IT was a night to celebrate business success.

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IT was a night to celebrate business success.

More than 300 people packed the Galpharm Stadium for a glittering black-tie dinner and presentation ceremony at the Examiner Business  Awards.

Outstanding individuals and organisations  took the accolades and the applause of an  enthusiastic audience for winning categories  which included ones for new businesses, small  and medium-sized enterprises, international  trade, employers, e-commerce and the  environment.

Sectors represented among the winners and  nominees included engineering, marketing,  retailing, construction, the food industry, textiles,  financial services and business services.

The landmark event, held in association with Huddersfield law firm Chadwick Lawrence,  included three “surprise” categories.

The winner of the most prestigious prize on the night, Business Person of the Year, was Jonathan  Thornton, chairman of Linthwaite-based  Thornton & Ross, who was recognised for his  leadership of the well-known family-owned firm  and his commitment to the local business  community.

The trophy was presented by Jeremy Garside,  managing partner of law firm Chadwick  Lawrence, which sponsored the category as well  as the Examiner Business Awards.

Presenting the award, Mr Garside introduced  Mr Thornton as “a man who certainly isn’t afraid  of hard work – but who knows  the value of having  a good time”.

Making reference to Mr Thornton’s love of  sailing, football and real ale, Mr Garside also  stressed his role as the chairman of a family firm  which has grown during his tenure to become one  of the UK’s leading manufacturers and suppliers  of pharmaceuticals and household products  through a series of astute acquisitions as well as   through solid organic growth.

Mr Thornton represents the third generation  of the original founders of Thornton & Ross,  which was launched in 1922 and has grown to  become an international player in its industry –  with products ranging from Covonia cough syrup  and Radian B muscle rub to Stardrops multi- purpose cleaner and Zoflora disinfectant.

Mr Thornton said: “I’m totally surprised. I  had no inkling of this outcome. We are proud to  have been in the Colne Valley for more than 80  years and have played a great role within the  community.

“We have some great people at Thornton and  Ross and I’m sure this award is deserved for the  efforts they have put in.”

A special Judge’s Award was presented by independent judge Prof John Thompson, of  Huddersfield University, to Lockwood-based  engineering firm David Brown Gear Systems.

The award was made in recognition of the gear  firm’s 150 years’ service to the town.

The company was established in 1860 to make  patterns for gears and grew to become a  world-leading manufacturer of gears for use in  products ranging from Challenger tanks, Formula 1 racing cars and Royal Navy ships to  conveyor systems and bakery ovens. Its latest  success is supplying parts for offshore wind  turbines.

David Brown is one of Huddersfield’s foremost companies and has manufacturing sites, sales  offices or distributors in countries around the  world, including France, Sweden, China, Thailand, South Africa, Australia and the USA.

Other major category winners honoured at the  awards evening included Stores Direct Ltd, which  was named Revell Ward SME of the Year; Suma  Wholefoods, which was recognised as Employer  of the Year; SimplyBiz Services PLC, named  Business of the Year; and Equi-Trek Ltd, which  secured the prize for HSBC Commercial Banking  International Business of the Year.

Huddersfield University was recognised with  the Kirklees Council Green Award while  Marsden shop The Cuckoo’s Nest flew away with  the Community Award.

Chef Tim Bilton, of The Butcher’s Arms at  Hepworth, was Fantastic Media Young Business  Person of the Year while the title of New Business  of the Year went to Five Star AutoCentre and the  E-Commerce Award was won by ambitious  online retailer buy it Direct.

The award for Innovation with Technology  went to the Textile Centre of Excellence for  bringing exciting new products to the market –  including fibres and fabrics made from carbon  and other materials to make components that are  lighter and stronger than steel and “smart”  fabrics which detect and inhibit bacterial growth,  shield against radar and provide protection  against fire and dangerous chemicals.

Broadcaster Declan Curry, who is familiar to  television and radio audiences for programmes  covering big business and personal finance, was  guest speaker at the event.

“Tonight is all about celebrating your successes.

“You have survived the worst recession in our  lifetimes and you are fitter and leaner.

“The important thing is that you are still  here.”

But he warned: “The next three years could be  just as tough as the last three. Taxes will go up  and work from the public sector will be  reduced.

“Workers will lose their jobs and consumers  will be frugal.”

But Declan said: “If you have been able to  survive the past three years you are tough enough  and resilient enough to survive whatever the next  three years will throw at us.”

As well as cutting costs, Declan urged firms to  “scan the horizon for new opportunities.”

“Tough times are an opportunity to develop  a more distinctive and better product.

“So much of what we need for a strong  sustainable economy is here in this room  tonight,” he said.

BBC Look North presenter Harry Gration  again hosted the proceedings, which included  fundraising for Kirkwood Hospice and leukaemia charity The Anthony Nolan Trust in  memory of Examiner reporter Adrian Sudbury,  who campaigned for more people to sign up as  bone marrow donors.

Guests included the Deputy Mayor and  Mayoress of Kirklees, Clr Eric Firth and Mrs  Janet Firth; category sponsors, award judges  and leading figures from the local business community.

 
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