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Shropshire Business Awards 2018 - who won what?

By Carl Jones

If they told you all their trade secrets, they say they’d have to kill you . . . but Bridgnorth manufacturing giant Grainger & Worrall is safe to boast about at least one thing.

The booming business on the Stanmore industrial estate, established in 1946 and now a fourth generation family firm, is Shropshire’s Company of the Year, for a second time.

It lifted the ‘big one’ in front of an audience of more than 700 people at the 18th Shropshire Chamber Business Awards, held at the International Centre in Telford.

The award recognised the company’s remarkable progress since it last lifted the title in 2015. In the past three years, it has increased sales by more than 50 per cent, and is a global market leader in quality machined castings for the motor industry, including some of the top names in Formula One.

Chief executive Matthew Grainger said: “This means such a lot. There has been such a lot of hard work done over the past three years. We are now a £60 million business with 650 employees.

“We know what’s going to be on the roads in five years’ time, and are doing all this advanced engineering and formula one work right here in Shropshire.

“We can’t talk about a lot of the things we do, which is why we’re not necessarily a really big name locally, but this award and this event is for the employees. I hope they are all very proud of the award – they should be.

“We have an exciting five-year plan ahead of us with further expansion. Bridgnorth is a great place to live and work. We want to grow our own and keep our own in Shropshire – that’s very important to us.”

Grainger & Worrall fought off tough competition in the company of the year category, from three very different finalists.

Motor dealer Furrows has smashed through the £100 million sales barrier in its centenary year. The family owned group has sites in Telford, Shrewsbury and Oswestry, employing 350 people. It has won the Ford Chairman’s Award for customer care on new fewer than 16 occasions.

Pave Aways is based at Knockin, near Oswestry, and is a full service building contractor which has been operating for 40 years, working with the public and private sector. Since a management buyout in 2011, it has seen record year-on-year growth and is creating new jobs at its expanding headquarters

Pure Telecom, based in Shrewsbury has picked up multiple awards in the past few years on the back of a sharp growth in business. Sales grew by more than 44 per cent in the last financial year, and founder Matt Sandford is a long-time campaigner for improved broadband services in rural counties such as Shropshire.

While Furrows missed out on the top prize, its long-time director Jane Coward was presented with the John Clayton Award, which recognises an outstanding contribution to the business community. She admitted to being ‘humbled and virtually speechless’ as she accepted it on behalf of the company, her family, and late husband John.

This year’s awards proved to be particularly fruitful for Bridgnorth. David Dexters and Bridgnorth Aluminium joined Grainger & Worrall on the podium – for business in the community, and outstanding customer service respectively.

Bridgnorth Aluminium is closely involved with many local schools, and donated £5,000 towards a scheme to help disabled swimmers in the town. It also funds the delivery of Shropshire Wildlife Trust educational courses

David Dexters is a car sales, service and repair centre where bottles of wine and bunches of flowers are commonplace for customers – staff will even pick up a driver’s favourite newspaper if they can’t get to the shops

This year’s international trade title went to TIA GB Limited of Telford, trading as Treadsetters, which works in the wholesale tyre and wheel business and has seen outstanding overseas trade growth, now reaching 45 countries across the world.

The Shrewsbury Club won the tourism leisure and hospitality award, having established itself as one of the top UK venues on the international tennis circuit, and invested £1.5 million in the past year on expanding its facilities, which is already having a major impact on membership numbers.

The manufacturer title went to Fabdec of Ellesmere, which has been at the forefront of stainless steel production for the dairy industry since 1960, and has this year invested heavily in upgrading its facilities, including a new automatic welding system.

Managing director Chris Powell said there had been some concern about how Brexit could impact on the business, but said that so far, the fluctuating pound had helped with international trade.

“We’ve picked up some new export business, shipping products to the USA and also Israel, which we haven’t done before, and hopefully that will continue.”

Hobsons Brewery in Cleobury Mortimer toasted success in the new environmental innovation category. It is an industry leader with its sustainable technologies, brewing its beers the green way with a serious commitment to wind, sun and waste power generation.

The apprenticeships trophy went to Morris Joinery, which is known for its bespoke furniture projects, from windows and doors to staircases and furniture. It currently has a group of apprentices gaining hands-on experience at its Bicton workshop.

A former company of the year winner – CJ Wildbird Foods – picked up the best online business title this year. It has its UK warehouse at Upton Magna, and in addition to selling the majority of its products online, uses the internet to stream live educational webcams, showing wild birds during the nesting season.

Technology, enterprise and innovation was a toughly fought category again this year, eventually won by Stallion AI Services near Whitchurch. The company is constantly investing in the latest technologies, and has this year set up a partnership with an American business to collect and store samples of genetic tissue.

The best new and best small business categories were split into two for the first time this year, to reflect companies with up to five, and six or more staff.

Lower House Equine Clinic, based at Llanymynech, won the best new business for 1-5 staff. It is based in a restored stable yard, which now has an in-house laboratory with some of the latest radio and ultra-sonar technology. It now has just under 2,000 horses on its list.

The best new business with six or more staff went to Beaver Bridges, which offers bridge building services throughout the UK and Europe with a team of transporters, builders, designers and engineers. Customers include the biggest government agencies, private land owners, farmers, and forestry companies.

In the best small business category, Shropshire Festivals won the 1-5 category. The company, run by Beth Heath, has a growing stable of popular events which began with the Shrewsbury Food Festival but now also includes Shropshire Kids Festival, Oktoberfest, and the inaugural Field To Fork festival, held this year at Harper Adams university.

The second small business award went to Salon Ten Limited, based in Much Wenlock, which has grown into an award-winning hair and beauty treatment business and been a finalist in the English Hair and Beauty Awards for the past two years.

A special award forming part of Telford’s 50th anniversary celebrations was also handed out on the night: the result of a public vote. Telford & Wrekin Council barrowed it down to four very different finalists - Capgemini, Exotic Zoo, Fabweld and SP Services, and after more than 7,000 votes were cast, it was Priorslee-based Exotic Zoo which topped the poll.

Peter Guy, president of Shropshire Chamber, described the night as ‘a magnificent showcase of the very best in business across our great county’.

In addition to the prizegiving, more than £5,000 was also raised to be split between two charities – the Lingen Davies appeal, and Severn Hospice.

Carl Jones, editor of Shropshire Business, once again performed the master of ceremonies duties and revealed that entries this year were nearly 20% up on 2017, making it one of the biggest and best awards events not only in Shropshire, but across the country.


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