Somerset’s top businesses came together last night to recognise and celebrate business success across the whole of the county at one of the most important and popular fixtures in Somerset’s business calendar – the Somerset Business Awards 2012.
Over 280 people from the county’s leading businesses attended the sell-out event at the Somerset County Cricket Ground to find out who had won this year’s hotly contested awards. The event organisers commented that the standard of the entries this year had been exceptional, whilst the number of companies entering was up by 20 per cent, proving that the popularity and prestige of the Somerset Business Awards continues to increase year on year.
Main sponsors, Albert Goodman, which has offices throughout Somerset, opened the annual Somerset Business Awards. Managing Partner of Albert Goodman, David Griffin, commented, “It is so important for us to be involved with the Somerset Business Awards. We want to celebrate the entrepreneurial skill, enthusiasm and commitment that is so prevalent in Somerset’s businesses. We are very proud to acknowledge this and applaud it.”
This year’s winners are:
New Business of the Year Award
Sponsored by design and print company, Glyder Ltd, the judges were looking for businesses that had been trading for less than three full financial years and those businesses that had the ‘xfactor’, with a new idea and a new concept. Tim Baigent, co-owner of Glyder, presented the award and commented, “Personally, I applaud anyone that starts a new business, anyone that has the bottle, drive and entrepreneurial enthusiasm to start a business in today’s climate, is amazing. It is incredibly liberating and exciting, especially in these times, to see new ideas to come to market.”
The winner was Blackdown Shepherds Huts and George Bannister and Will Vickery accepted the award and commented, “This is great. We want to thank all the small companies that have helped supply parts for our business and to our friends, family and customers, who have supported us throughout. We feel very privileged and honoured to win.”
The runners up were Step Success and Vintage Fair Arts Café.
New to Somerset Award
Sponsored by inward investment body, Into Somerset, good inward investment is the vital cog in the wheel of economic growth and this award recognises an individual or business, which has invested in Somerset in the last three years and has made a significant contribution to the Somerset economy. Presenting the award, Chair of Into Somerset, Anne Fraser, commented, “I never cease to be amazed by the size and scope of the incredible businesses here in Somerset and the grand contribution they make to our local economy. This is a really special award.”
The award went to Prolift Access Ltd. Andrew Pearson and Andrew Martin accepted the award and commented, “This is brilliant and we want to say a massive thank you to everyone that believed in us. Our aim was to bring the heart back to our business and bring employment back into the area. We look forward to a bright future here in Somerset. From here we will get bigger and better but we can’t be any prouder than we are now.”
The runners up were M5 Glass Centre and LiteTile Ltd.
Service Excellence Award
Sponsored by Blueloop, IT services, the judges were looking for good customer service, at a level over and above the normal industry expectations and a business that has clear strategies in place for maintaining such a level of service. Jon Gerdes, from Blueloop, commented on the awards, “This award is for the businesses that go that little bit further and make a difference. If businesses want to improve and develop their own company operations, they should take a look at the finalists and see how they do it so well.”
The award went to leading mortgage and insurance company, Cooper Associates Ltd. Samantha Cooper, Managing Director, accepted the award and said, “It is a huge privilege to be accepting this award, from an organisation that is so prestigious and well recognised as the Somerset Business Awards. Since starting, Cooper Associates has had the aim of offering an unparalleled-level of service in the financial services sector. Without the support and hard work of our great team, this award would not be possible. So thank you!”
Runners up were: Myakka Ltd and Thorne Segar.
Best Exporter Award
This award was sponsored by Foot Anstey LLP and aimed to recognise Somerset’s best exporters. It attracted a very diverse range of international traders and was presented by Duncan Sykes who said, “It is a great pleasure to present this award for the second year running. It is a welcome opportunity that shows the great businesses within this region, which are producing fantastic goods and services. These companies are taking them into the world and are brave enough to look at potential new markets and highlighting the benefits that that brings.”
The award was presented to Hilton Herbs and Martin Brooks, Production and Export Manager, collected the award and said, “Thank you so much for this. I am honoured, it has been an extremely difficult year for us and this means the world to me and the 17 guys back at work.”
The runners up were Unwin Safety Systems and SCM Handling Ltd.
The Albert Goodman Family Business Award
The Albert Goodman Family Business Award recognises businesses with one or more family members that are involved in the management of the business and that exert a significant influence over the company. Presenting the award was Paul Hake. He comments, “Albert Goodman is delighted to be main sponsors again and sponsor of this award. Working with family businesses is a fundamental part of what we do and it runs through the Albert Goodman ethos. This year we had a very high number of quality family businesses and the diversity of entrants was a useful reminder of why working with family businesses is so interesting and important. The key qualities of the winning business were the flexibility and adaptability of the business and the specialism of the company.”
The winner of the award was Monkton Elm Garden & Pet Centre and David Bellman collected the award. He comments, “This is wonderful and after a life-long dedication to Somerset and our garden centre, I am now handing over to my son in law, Mike.” Mike Lind said, “It is absolutely wonderful to be involved with this business. It is a well established business, which has been running for 30 years and employs more than 100 people. We are proud to be a Somerset business, there is no where better to be based.”
The runners up were South West Peninsular Training and Gadsby.
Skills for Growth Award
This award was sponsored by Somerset Employment & Skills Board and as a new award, the judges wanted to recognise businesses that invest in their staff, not only for competitive advantage, but also to see their own people grow. Presenting the award, Kath Gigg, Chair of Somerset Employment & Skills Board, commented on the award, “It is fantastic to be able to sponsor this award. Getting skills right in businesses is key to enabling growth, development and expansion in business. Every one of our finalists was truly inspirational.”
The award was presented to BAM Construction Ltd. Lorna Lewis accepted the award and said, “We are delighted to win this award. The timing is perfect as we, today, launched our Skills Academy, which came about from working with fantastic Bridgwater schools. It will provide work experience for young people, support schools with curriculum activities and ensure jobs are advertised locally. We want to be a part of up-skilling the vast supply chain in Somerset. Winning this award helps recognise that BAM Construction is actively involved in this.”
Runners up were 3 Dimensions Care Ltd and ADPR Limited.
Charity of the Year Award
It was sponsored by Clarke Willmott LLP and Tim Walker presented the award. He comments, “This award is about the excellent charities. They work hard making Somerset a safer place to work, live and play in. All three of the charities are worthy winners and have contributed something unique to the community. It was a great honour to visit them.”
The winner was Stand Against Violence and Adam Fouracre said, “I am really pleased to accept this award and want to thank everyone within the charity, including the volunteers and charity trustees, We started as small campaign six years ago and have been on a fantastic journey, working in collaboration with great businesses, locally and nationally. Our work has reached thousands and our educational work has improved behaviour and reduced violence and offending. It has been an exhilarating experience and we have all worked very hard to get here. We have great aims for the future and are excited for the expansion of the charity and being able to deliver new community projects. This award means we have credibility and will increase our awareness.”
The runners up were St John Ambulance and Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance.
Collaborative Innovation Award
Sponsored by Open Innovation Initiative, the award highlighted two or more business that have demonstrated innovative collaboration and all have achieved mutual benefits, enhancing a project or enterprise. Roger Hall and Bernard Curren, from the Open Innovation Initiative, presented the award and commented, “We are delighted with the quality of finalists. The standards of both innovation and collaboration that was shown by all those judged were exceptional. It was a very liberating process and it highlights how we can drive growth within our businesses by collaborating innovatively. This is a real award of partnership and is great to see great collaboration in action.”
The award was presented to Gary Gabriel Associates. Duncan Clayton and Daniel Kennard accepted the award and commented, “We really didn’t expect to win this award, but we are honoured to win and it means an awful lot to us. Collaboration is something that is at the heart of the business and it has really helped us grow through these very difficult times. If you collaborate properly, with the great companies around you, the innovation comes naturally.”
The runners up were Futures for Somerset and Gerber Juice Co Ltd.
Marketing and Promotion Award
Sponsored by leading public relations agency, ADPR, the judges were looking for innovation and imaginative marketing that stood out in a crowded marketing place. A hotly contested award, the shortlisted companies demonstrated these desirable characteristics, throughout a one off campaign, or as part of a sustained marketing campaign. Presenting the award, Alice Driscoll, Managing Director of ADPR, said, “It is a huge privilege to be a judge, especially for the marketing award, as every year the quality is increased. Being able to go into someone else’s business and seeing what they are doing is fantastic. Some businesses spend quite a lot of money and some businesses are still doing very creative and fantastic things with a very small budget, so competition is tough.”
The award went to leading insurance broker, Higos Insurance Services Ltd. Neil Wyatt, accepted the award and said, “It means a lot to be able to receive this award, especially as the insurance sector is a very competitive market. Through our marketing, we try to differentiate ourselves from others and put across the benefits of using an insurance broker. The TV advertising was a risk, thankfully it paid off.”
Runners up were Hilton Herbs and Hall of Names Europe.
Energy Efficiency Award
This award was sponsored by Somerset County Council and the award recognises businesses that go beyond the norm in the efficient use of energy in the workplace. Deputy Leader of the Somerset County Council, Councillor David Hall presented the award and said, “The Somerset County Council is delighted to sponsor this award as it recognises the achievements of the county’s most innovative and enterprising businesses. Regardless of the size of the businesses, the enthusiasm and commitment by those companies to embrace new, low-carbon energy technologies into their working places, makes them all winners.
The award went to Thorney Lakes Caravan and Camping Park of Langport, Richard England and Sally Gilliam accepted the award and commented, “I really wasn’t expecting to win, especially against all the other ‘bigger boys’. When visitors come to our site, we get them to realise how enthusiastic we are about energy efficiency and recycling at our site. Thank you very much.”
Runners up were Yarlington Housing Group and Powrmatic Limited.
Business of the Year 0-1 Employees Award
Sponsored by Somerset Chamber of Commerce, the award recognises businesses often work harder than many. Presented by, Vice Chairman of the Somerset Chamber of Commerce, Graham Knight. He comments, “These businesses often have very little support and help and there is definitely no mediocrity with these businesses. But lots of motivation and passion.”
The award was presented to The Langport Leveller and Somerton Sentinel and Andrew Lee accepted the award. He said, “Thank you very much. For such a small company it is a tremendous piece of recognition. We only launched two years ago and it grows every month. It is a reader-driven business and I couldn’t do it without the readers and of course, my wonderful partner.”
The runners up were Eternity Crystal LLP and Hall of Names Europe.
Business of the Year 2-5 Employees Award
This award was sponsored by Lentells Accountants. Adrian Stallard presented the award and said, “I believe, this is one of the toughest stages of a business life. At the start, it is all your own ideas and you are in total control, then suddenly you have to rely on someone else and build a strong team around you. For this, you have to be very brave and have to train and develop employees and introduce systems and procedures for the smooth running of the business. It takes time, resources and courage.”
The winner was Pardoes Bevins Human Resources Limited and Becky Bevins and Claire Rowswell, collected the award, commenting, “This award is truly fantastic, it shows the reason we are here and I must thank our great team. It means a great deal to us and shows that our hard work is well recognises. Our heart is definitely in it.”
The runners up were Plum Communications & PR Ltd and Rubix Solutions UK Ltd.
Business of the Year 6-50 Employees Award
This award was sponsored by EDF Energy and Chris Squires, Lead Supply Chain Engagement Manager, presented the award. He said, “I am delighted to represent EDF Energy for this award and proud to be here in Somerset. It is great to be working with Somerset Chamber of Commerce’s team and to be building a bank of wonderful suppliers. There are some wonderful companies in Somerset who are working very hard. It was a hotly contested award and had the strongest entrants.”
The winner was Taunton Fabrications Ltd and Jason Rigby accepted the award. He commented, “I am completely blown away. I can’t believe that we have won and I want to thank our brilliant team for their continued hard work. It is truly fantastic.”
The runners up were Unwin Safety Systems and Evosite Ltd
Business of the Year 51+ Employees Award
This was sponsored by Higos Insurance Services Ltd and Neil Wyatt presented the award. The award recognises truly outstandingly, successful big businesses. Neil said, “Somerset is our heartland and it is great to work with a diverse range of businesses in Somerset. The shortlisted businesses are fantastic.”
The award was presented to Clarke Willmott LLP and Philip Allen and Kate Gardner collected the award. Philip commented, “Life is an amazing adventure and our business started with its humble roots in Somerset. Since 1898, we have now grown to six offices, employing more than 500 staff. I want to say a huge thank you to everyone, including our private, individual clients and the larger businesses.”
The runners up were Yarlington Housing Group and Radstock Co-operative Society.