The StokeonTrentLive Business Awards are just days away – and we’re extremely excited to be recognising the best of industry in Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire. The awards – with headline sponsor Staffordshire University – will be held on April 22, in a virtual ceremony that will celebrate the businesses and individuals that help the region thrive.
The last year saw companies, businesspeople, and employees placed in new and uncertain circumstances – as the coronavirus pandemic created a shifting economic landscape, and a whole new set of rules around how many businesses could operate.
Despite these new obstacles, businesses and individuals showed that they possessed extraordinary perseverance necessary to make it through such a difficult time – demonstrating the skill and determination that makes the Staffordshire businesses community so impressive.
Not only did businesses survive, many of them thrived in spite of challenges – using the opportunity to innovate and change the way they operated for the better. The awards will celebrate the work of these amazing businesses and individuals – tickets are free, and can be registered for here.
As part of the run-up to the event, we’ve put together short profiles of the category finalists – so that people can learn about their achievements ahead of the ceremony on April 22. Below are the finalists for 12 of the 13 categories – with the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award being announced on the night.
Science and Technology | Sponsored by Staffordshire University AEON Engineering LTD
AEON is a design, tech development and test house that is constantly looking for ways to develop and grow. Working in research and design for the aerospace and scientific sectors, the company delivers high-quality products while also helping other companies with their own innovations and projects. AEON has shown impressive growth over the last few years, with a sales growth of 65% for the 2019/20 fiscal year – and has recently opened a Centre for Engineering Research to further expand its management and design services.
Working with companies around the world, Haughton designs and produces medical devices for a range of different needs. The engineering team has a wealth of experience and, using cutting edge computer-aided design, is able to ensure high quality at every stage of the design and manufacturing process. Despite the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic, Haughton has continued to thrive, receiving its largest order yet during the lockdown.
TMT First is a phone repair company that, as an authorised Samsung Repair Centre, has proven itself to be a professional and reliable organisation capable of producing excellent results. The business has a Chesterton facility with tech that was built specifically for the purposes of providing Samsung repairs – which alongside regular training and audits by Samsung ensures a dedicated and skilled service provider. TMT First has continued to grow even during the pandemic, doubling its workforce and repairing more than 100 000 over the last year.
Business in the Community | Sponsored by Rydale Roofing Acorn Training
Since its founding in 2008, Acorn Training has worked with people to develop professional skills and reach their potential, regardless of background. Acorn offers apprenticeships, employability support, skills training, and youth and justice services – to aid people in the community find a direction and vocation that they find fulfilling. The company provides holistic support, and its commitment to helping people flourish has seen Acorn become the UK’s third-fastest growing training provider.
Best of British Beer
Based in Newcastle-Under-Lyme, Best of British beer has been selling specialist beers from independent producers since 2011. The company is the longest-running online retailer of craft beer across the country – and its efforts help boost the independent beer producers of Stoke-on-Trent. This work only increased during the pandemic, as the team of 13 found themselves dealing with quadrupled online sales during the lockdown – helping Best of British Beer and the independent producers that might have been struggling.
As one of the leading Authorised Samsung Repair Centres in the UK, TMT First is a trusted and professional name in phone repair. TMT has used its success to give back to the community – donating 150 tablets, chargers, and power packs to hospitalised patients so they could communicate with family members during lockdown. In addition, TMT doubled its workforce and opened a Specialist Training Academy over the last year – providing a boost to the local economy during a difficult time, and helping workers develop long-lasting skills.
Innovation in Business | Sponsored by Staffordshire Business Innovation Centre INFINITY IT Solutions
As a company that provides IT support to other businesses, innovation is something that INFINITY IT Solutions has to put persistent work into. The company offers bespoke solutions and infrastructure to clients, helping them develop efficient IT departments. As such INFINITY has to always have an eye on innovation, working with new solutions and new technology, and assessing the impact they could have. INFINITY carried out work on its own operations during the last year, carrying out a six-figure digital overhaul in an effort to make collaboration easier and work more streamlined.
PalletOnline is an online division of Browns Distribution Services – a warehousing and haulage company that has been operating since 1955. Since 2018 PalletOnline has been a leader in innovation around the delivery of pallets – developing tracking tech, and making the process of booking pallets delivery much easier. This has led to the company’s turnover growing from £800,000 to more than £3m in just a few years.
An international supplier of automation parts and repair, Radwell International is a company that found itself innovating in an unexpected way last year. As a supplier to food manufacturers and processors, Radwell works with a lot of companies considered essential, as well as being considered essential itself. However, when these companies struggled to get PPE Radwell stepped in, producing high-quality PPE that keeps workers safe in companies around the world.
International Trade | Sponsored by Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire LEP Cabbunk Ltd
As the creator of a product for those traveling in motorhomes or campervans, Cabbunk has plenty of experience with products going international. In fact, 70% of all the products created by Cabbunk are sent abroad – and the business has also set up shop in a few other countries as well. It already has distributors in France and Germany, and is planning on establishing three sites in the USA and one in Australasia. This international focus has paid off, with a 69% growth over the last year – and Cabbunk expects to see even more growth after the launch of its next leisure vehicle project.
Haughton is a company that designs and produces high-quality medical devices for a variety of uses, and it ships products to a wide range of countries. The company has put in the work to grow its international market over the past three years – establishing links with companies in Ireland, The Netherlands, and Dubai – and in 2020 it managed to break into the US market. Haughton has even secured contracts with the US Government, and by 2022 it hopes to hit a target turnover of £2m.
Radwell International Ltd
The sale of automotive parts is a business that is helped immensely by having access to an international market – and Radwell is a company that has made sure it’s capable of meeting needs around the globe. Radwell serves more than 55,000 clients across 175 countries – and with 12 different languages spoken by its 114-strong workforce, it can be sure of communicating effectively to get customers what they need. The company has already had great success with its £1m German branch, and plans to open more branches across Europe – paving the way for an even stronger international presence in the future.
Training Excellence | Sponsored by InYourArea DWP & Sons Ltd
Founded in 1994, DWP & Sons Ltd is an international road haulier with a commitment to growth and development. The company recently invested £2m in its staff – with a plan to open a training centre that will support both current and new employees, and will help those looking to make their way into the industry. With 40 dedicated staff driving 30 trucks all over Europe, DWP & Sons hopes that this investment will only serve to extend its reach.
Erwin Hymer Centre Travelworld
Erwin Hymer Centre Travelworld is a company that recognises the importance of making sure its employees are as skilled as possible. The seller of premium motorhomes currently employs 68 people, and 80% of them are involved in a form of training at the moment. Erwin Hymer carries out a lot of this work internally, offering internal training programmes in more than 30 different subjects.
Hanley Economic Building Society
With 167 years of trading experience under its belt, the Hanley Economic Building society is a company that has a keen understanding of how important its employees are to its success. The company tries to incorporate the traditional ethos that has made it so respected over the years, with a modern approach to customer-focused business and the development of employees. The company offers a variety of training options designed to help employees become stronger in all aspects – from mortgage-related qualifications to mental health first aid.
Growth Award | Sponsored by Dains Accountants Acorn Training
Acorn Training is an organisation determined to help people from any background develop their skills and discover a fulfilling path – and its outstanding work has seen it become the UK’s third-fastest growing training provider. Even with the obstacles presented by the coronavirus pandemic, Acorn is on track for a £2.6m turnover this year, and a £300,000 profit. This is a remarkable jump from a loss in 2017 of more than £500,000. This growth was achieved by diversifying into different areas – specifically into the provision of justice services to ex-offenders. Acorn plans to capitalise on this success by opening training centres in Burton upon Trent and Hanley.
Best of British Beer
Founded in 2011, Best of British Beer is a seller of specialist beers that has recently achieved substantial growth in spite of – and in fact because of – the coronavirus pandemic. Over the year, the company has gone from selling direct to customers, to working with companies like Funky Pigeon and Selfridges to create beers and gifts. However, during the pandemic Best of British Beer saw an extraordinary quadrupling of online sales, thanks to a sudden rise in demand for its “The Staying Inn” home pub kits. This growth was extremely welcome for Best of British Beer, and the independent beer and cider makers that they support with sales.
Since its establishment in 1989, RKW Ltd has proven capable of generating serious, sustained growth. The company makes and distributes houseware products and small domestic appliances – and over three decades of operation has seen a 74% growth in sales, year on year. In 2020, its brand tower grew by an incredible 100%, amounting to a £132m retail value. Today, RKW is partnered with 5000 retailers internationally, and has offices in Mainland China, India, Hong Kong, Taiwan – and Staffordshire.
Entrepreneur of the Year | Sponsored by Brewin Dolphin Eben Lovatt | Moneyshake.com
Eben Lovatt started Moneyshake.com in 2019, as a way of helping people find the best car lease deals and contract purchase offers for them. His work to grow the company has been savvy – in part involving the formation of commercial partnerships with companies such as Clearscore and Moneysupermarket. As a result of these efforts, in just two years the company has generated £8m in written contracts, and leased more than 1,000 vehicles. Eben hopes Moneyshake will grow even further with a new investment of £1m.
Jason Harker | Planterra Business Centre
Over the last 10 years, Jason Harker has put in extensive work to help Planterra Business Centre grow. A group of horticultural and arboricultural companies, under the guidance of Jason the Business Centre has seen an incredible 528% growth over the last decade, with a turnover in 2020 of more than £1m. Jason is determined to keep this growth going, hoping to get it to £10m, and make the Business Centre leaders in the market. This begins with plans to grow turnover 70% from last year, with a target of £1,970,000.
Adam Whitehouse | TMT First
Since founding TMT First in 2006, Adam Whitehouse has overseen a considerable amount of growth and diversification. Originally a developer of software that customised phones for brands and retailers, in the 15 years since it’s become a trusted phone repair and customisation provider – and an authorised Samsung Repair Centre. TMT First has seen impressive growth in the last 12 months, doubling its workforce to 110, and hitting a 2019/2020 turnover of £9.8m. Adam continues to work on developing the business – hoping to reach £19m turnover this year, and setting up a specialist training academy to help people become technical repair professionals with a polished and valuable set of skills.
Young Professional of the Year | Sponsored by We Are Staffordshire Rosie Crowther | Radwell International Ltd
In just three years at Radwell International Ltd, Rosie Crowther has proven herself to be an extremely capable employee with an impressive ability to help the company grow. Hired in 2018 as a marketing assistant, Rosie was quickly promoted, gaining the role of European marketing assistant in 2019. Given sole control of the Radwell social media accounts in seven countries, Rosie handled the responsibility with aplomb – showing an excellent instinct for increasing organic connections, and helping Radwell achieve a 126% boost in social media driven web traffic over the last year.
Emily Precious and Vanessa Fuller | Premier Tax Solutions Ltd
Emily Precious and Vanessa Fuller set up Premier Tax Solutions Ltd in an effort to breathe life into their industry. The company is a firm of chartered tax advisers, and was founded in an attempt to offer a fresh and contemporary presence in what clients felt was a somewhat stuffy industry. Vanessa and Emily use smart tech and a clear presentation of figures to offer clients an easily understandable approach to tax. Having set up the business at just 26 years old, Emily and Vanessa have already helped Premier reach Xero Gold Partner status, and are found by new clients all the time through glowing word-of-mouth review alone.
Nicholas Langley | Langley Foxall Ltd
As managing director at Langley Foxall Ltd, Nicholas Langley has helped the company grow and thrive over the last year. The software development firm, based in Stafford, has seen a growth of 40% since last year – thanks in part to Nick’s determination to ensure that the business is always innovating, adapting, and making plans for the future. Under Nick’s leadership, productivity levels at Langley Foxall actually increased during the lockdown – and he ensures that the team still celebrates its success despite not being together.
High Performing Team of the Year | Sponsored by Plinkflizz DWP & Sons Ltd
Founded in 1994, DWP began as a sole trader – and has gone from strength to strength since then. Nowadays, the haulier operates 30 trucks that take various kinds of food produce across the UK and Europe – and has a team of 40 people to rely on. Despite the challenges of the pandemic, DWP has seen a profit growth of 35%, and has invested more than £2m into the business last year – some of it dedicated to the staff team that DWP credits with so much of its success. This includes the opening of a training centre that the company hopes will make it even stronger.
Sempar Accountancy and Tax Ltd
Sempar Accountancy and Tax is a company that puts its staff, clients, and community first – and it works to help them all achieve their best. Founded five years ago, the company has gone from a two-person team to a 17-person-strong staff roster – all working together to provide other businesses with a high-quality service that helps them flourish. Over the years this team has achieved fantastic results, going from £80,000 in recurring fees in 2016 to a 2021 turnover of £670,000.
Stoke Chiro Spinal Health Centre
Over the past year, the team at Stoke Chiro Spinal Health Center have continued to deliver tits services despite challenges presented by the coronavirus pandemic. Providing chiropractic care and osteopathy to those in the community, the team found its wellness studio closed as a result of covid19 regulations. As such, the team began to work on zoom, providing classes and coaching online so that people need not miss out. Despite the obstacles presented by the pandemic, Stoke Chiro saw its wellbeing community grow from 300 to 400 over the year.
Start-Up Business of the Year | Sponsored by Stoke-on-Trent City BID The Clay Club
When Jack Laverick’s ceramics studio was shut as a result of the pandemic, he began thinking of a way to help people enjoy pottery despite the lockdowns. He came up with The Clay Club, which provides people with DIY pottery kits – so they can take part in the art form even if they’re at home. This creative outlet proved extremely popular during lockdown, and the kits have been stocked by shops like Urban Outfitters and Selfridges. Jack hopes to keep this momentum going, and get people into pottery workshops once his studio is open again.
ICI Architecture Studio
Since being set up in November 2020, ICI Architecture Studio has proven itself to be an ambitious business with a knack for winning over customers. ICI adopts a flexible approach that lets clients make alterations during the process without incurring any extra cost – an approach that has seen it win an extremely impressive 60 contracts in such a short time. Despite being a team of one working with five consultants, ICI is working on growing demand from clients across the globe, looking to become a go-to name for flexible architectural services.
Founded in 2019, Moneyshake.com is dedicated to helping people find the best car leasing deals. The company compares different leasing arrangements, so that people can find a setup that works for them and saves them money. Customers have been eager to reap the benefits, and Moneyshake had made £8m in written contracts – helped by its commercial tie-ups with companies like ClearScore and Money Supermarket.
Unknown Marketing was founded by Joe Yates in 2019, when he was just 19 years old. The company works in social media marketing, helping companies achieve a better reach on social media – and Unknown has been able to increase its own success significantly in the last two years. This year the company’s turnover was £120,000, and Joe found himself able to move to a different location and hire four new employees. Joe hopes that this trend will continue, eventually making Unknown the number one social media marketing company in Staffordshire.
Small Business of the Year | Sponsored by Beswicks Legal
Best of British Beer
As the longest-running online seller of craft beer in Britain, Best of British Beer knows how to get the best out of its products. For instance, during the lockdown the company put together stay at home pub kits, which gave people the chance to have a fun, at-home experience and regain some of the dynamic they had lost in lockdown. This was part of the excellent work that saw Best of British Beer experience a ten-fold increase in sales, and a quadrupled turnover for the year.
Haughton Design Ltd
Originally, Haughton Design Ltd was a company that dealt mostly in mechanical design for the aerospace industry, working on rigs. Eventually, the company began producing medical devices, and today that work makes up 80% of the company’s turnover, with Haughton frequently creating new products and devices for businesses around the world. Haughton uses computer aided design and its extremely skilled team to excellent effect, creating medical devices and other products to the exacting standard that it requires.
Prosurv Consult Ltd
Prosurv Consult Ltd is a multi-disciplinary construction consultancy that works across a wide range of sectors, ensuring that clients see their goals come to fruition. The team of 28 – two of whom have been with the company from trainee roles to the management board – have a wealth of experience, which has been put to good use working with FTSE 250 developers, national housebuilders, and more. Prosurv’s professionalism and skill has led to it having a repeat business rate exceeding 90% – 30% more than the industry standard.
Business of the Year | Sponsored by Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce Erwin Hymer Centre Travelworld
Erwin Hymer Centre Travelworld is a company familiar with perseverance. The business – which moved to Stafford in 2019 – has been in the premium brand motorhome business for more than 40 years now, and has one of the largest showrooms in the UK. In fact, despite the lockdown severely limiting travel, Erwin Hymer had a record-breaking month last year – selling twice as many homes in July 2020 than in the previous year. and plans to further increase that growth, hoping to see an 8% increase in revenue across the next year.
Radwell International Ltd
Radwell is a company that has shown the ability to maintain growth, and innovate when necessary. A supplier of industrial automation parts, the company sells in 175 countries to more than 55,000 customers, with nine branches in North America and Europe – and a 58,000 sq ft site in Staffordshire. The company has seen significant growth each year since its founding in 2011, and showed why when the pandemic hit. Struck by the inability of its clients to get appropriate PPE, Radwell started to produce it – and sold more than 100,000 items over the last year.
TMT First is a phone repair company that has become a trusted name over the years – having even been named an authorised Samsung Repair Centre. The last year saw a quick and sizeable growth for TMT First, seeing an increase of 100% in turnover, from £4m in 20120 to £8m this year. In addition, the business saw its workforce doubled to 110 people – and won contracts with the NHS and government departments. TMT First has directed the results of this success towards developing the business and employees – creating new jobs and opening a specialist training academy.
Every one of these finalists has accomplished something extraordinary over the past year – demonstrating unflappable resilience during a particularly challenging time, and doing credit to the businesses of Staffordshire. We look forward to offering them such much-deserved recognition on April 22. For more information on the awards, visit the official website.