Final of the Medway Business Awards
The 2013 Medway Business Awards reaches its glittering climax in Rochester tonight.
Associate business editor Trevor Sturgess
Associate Business Editor Trevor Sturgess sets the scene.
A dozen firms are braced for a tense but enjoyable evening that their bosses and staff hope will reward them with a top prize.
They are all finalists in the 29th annual Medway Business Awards which reaches its glitzy conclusion in Rochester Corn Exchange tonight.
At around 10pm on Medway’s business night of the year, the results will be announced in a ceremony hosted by BBC South East news presenter Rob Smith.
The 12 finalists will each win a framed certificate, with one scooping the prized accolade of Medway Business of the Year. There will also be category awards for a number of other businesses.
The awards, founded by former KM Group editor David Jones, have celebrated business excellence in the Towns since the closure of Chatham Royal Naval Dockyard in 1984.
Since then, there has been a remarkable transformation in the economic fortunes of the area, with 20% unemployment in 1984 plummeting to around 4% today.
The awards have also underlined Medway’s pedigree as a great place to start and grow a business, with thousands of enterprises now flourishing in the area.
Trevor Shave, SME Banking relationship manager with Lloyds Bank, a long-time awards sponsor, chaired the judging panel.
He said: “As judges, we continue to be hugely impressed by the quality and diversity of entrants for the Medway Business Awards. Choosing the final 12 proved to be an incredibly difficult task with many hours of painstaking deliberation but we believe the finalists provide a fantastic cross section of all that is good within the local business community.
“In these difficult economic times, it is always rewarding to see the sheer energy, enthusiasm and commitment shown by these businesses. It is only right that their success and contribution to the local economy is recognised and celebrated through the Awards.”
Sylvia Meade, chairman of the organising committee, added: "The awards have been a tough call this year as the quality of entrants has been so high. They show Medway is thriving and producing true market leaders who have survived the worst of the recession."
This mechanical services engineering and contracting firm has devoted more than 30 years to keeping clients comfortable in the right temperature.
Airconaire, founded in 1978, specialises in air conditioning systems. Its wide range of services extend to heat pumps, air cooling, heating, ventilation, hot and cold water services, above ground drainage, heat recovery, energy conservation and a host of other services that include plant refurbishment, design and build, repairs, and refrigerant reclaim.
The company employs 33 people at its base on Deacon Trading Estate, Strood.
Charmaine Grech and Andrew Gillett at Bluebird Care
Bluebird Care (Medway) supports clients of all ages in their own homes.
As a franchise business operating as part of the national Bluebird Care group, it has two Medway offices - in Rainham and Strood.
It aims to help clients maintain their own independence, dignity and privacy to ensure they enjoy the highest standards and quality of living.
It takes pride in providing a “good old-fashioned service” that takes into account today’s circumstances.
It employs 58 staff, including 50 care workers, and makes more than 2,000 care visits a week.
BPK Certified Accountants
Few other accountants can claim to “sweeten the moment” by sending sweets with requests for accounts, or taking cakes with them to client’s premises.
Chartered certified accountant Tony Kensington set up BPK in 2000, mainly to ensure clients did not pay a penny more tax than they had to, but also to help clients become more profitable.
In the process, BPK, based on Medway City Estate, has developed a distinctive style, and has re-branded as Aspirations - Beyond Accountancy to reflect its innovative approach.
Cura Energy directors Carly Higglesden and Simon Bowe
This young expanding firm, founded in 2011, shows there is life after redundancy - and having to use wallpaper pasting tables as desks.
Its two directors founded the company after losing their jobs, taking on two staff from their former employer which had gone into administration.
Since then, it has achieved the Government’s holy grail - private sector growth and job creation.
After just two years, the energy management specialist – based at the Innovation Centre Medway - has created 10 jobs and provided a wide range of tailor-made services across different industries and sectors.
The firm helps clients achieve reductions in energy usage, carbon emissions and costs through energy-efficient technologies and improved client procedures.
When you have stayed in a hotel, you may have dried down with a towel supplied by Elsatex.
This Stroodcompany supplies the contract and retail markets with a wide range of textiles ranging from hotel towels to tea towels and bed linen.
The business was founded seven years ago by husband and wife team Anny and Stephen Lowe. They had worked for a textiles manufacturer and wanted to develop a company that supplied to the industry on a wholesale basis.
While many products are sourced from Pakistan, India or Bangladesh, others come from UK suppliers..
Exports to mainland Europe now account for around 10% of turnover and are growing. Turnover has rocketed from £400,000 in 2009 to more than £4 million this year. As it moves from a regional to a national supplier, Elsatex has high hopes of smashing through the £10 million barrier within three years.
The Food Machinery Company
Sales director Lee Gapper and managing director Mike Wilkinson at The Food Machinery Company
The Food Machinery Company is one of the first Medway businesses to receive an interest-free loan from the £20 million TIGER fund.
Following consistent 20% annual growth over the past three years, it has taken on new staff to meet demand and worked on an ambitious expansion project that will create new offices, development laboratory and test kitchen.
To fund the project, the growing company, based in St Mary Hoo, applied to Medway Council for an interest-free loan under the TIGER - Thames Gateway Innovation, Growth and Enterprise - scheme. The new project will enable the business to take on more staff and promotethe business in sectors it has yet to tap.
The firm employs 16 people at the moment but job numbers and turnover are expected to rise steeply over the next few years.
Processing and packaging machinery are crucial to the food industry and this business has provided this vital ingredient for 11 years, although its origins go back 35 years.
GPC Clear Solutions
The team at GPC Clear Solutions
GPC Clear Solutions, a specialist in water treatment, is celebrating 10 years in business this year.
That it has reached the finals of the Medway Business Awards is testimony to the company’s growth and superb performance over the past 12 months.
It is a family-run firm with what it likes to call “can-do” attitude, saying it is not frightened to take on larger competitors or large projects.
Founded in June 2003, the company now employs six people. A year ago, it moved into larger premises on Medway City Estate, Strood.
This year has included an open day for customers, suppliers and friends. Big name clients include Brands Hatch racing circuit, Weetabix, Maison Blanc and Anglian Water.
Over the past year, the company has taken on work experience students from local schools, and been accepted on the government’s Business Accelerator programme.
Staff at Innovation Software Ltd
Strong export performance has taken this firm to exciting new places, helping it to grow sales, profit and staff numbers.In2010, it developed pioneering packaged software for credit control.
Since then, the workforce has risen to nine and exports now go to 23 countries, mostly to global law firms but also to the non-professional sector.
The Rochester-based company is defying tough competition by consistent growth thanks to e-mail shots, networking and personal recommendation. It is on course to break through the £2 million turnover barrier and create a new market for its I4G ERP Integration Software.
MC Personnel, High Street, Gillingham
Independent recruitment business MC Personnel combines hiring of staff with hiring of buses for school transport.
The firm was founded in Gillingham 15 years ago and expanded into Gravesend three years later. It now serves clients countywide.
It specialises in the hiring of permanent and temporary industrial, office and catering staff and is proud that the first temp hired in 1998 is still working for the company.
MC Personnel is one of few recruitment firms to offer a range of transport services. It operates a fleet of 15 minibuses to offer candidates subsidised transport.
It has extended this service to local schools with its so-called “chuckle” buses. The service is also available to businesses and the public for private hire.
It achieved Investors in People status, is a member of the Recruitment Employment Confederation (REC) and is licensed by the GLA Gangmasters Licensing Authority.
It is also a keen supporter of charities.
RedDoor Homes is at the forefront of that stressful, emotional and exciting event known as house moving.
This estate, lettings and property management agent addresses these issues by offering customers an open door policy and any help they need to improve the experience.
It does as much as it can to enable move-ins to suit customers, working closely with contractors.
RedDoor Homes, based in Chatham, loves being different.From its deep knowledge of what landlords and tenants expect, it aims to stand out from the crowd.
Founded by landlords nearly three years ago to give tenants and landlords a service they felt was not being provided properly elsewhere, it now employs 13 staff. Its declared aim is to give clients “a unique and special experience.
Questor Insurance Services Ltd, Station Road, Rainham
This business operates internationally, placing a premium on good customer service.
Founded in 2007, the Rainham-based enterprise is an independent privately-owned insurance intermediary authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. It designs and distributes niche insurance products for global markets.
It promises that its staff arealways “ready to go the extra mile.”
Questor employs nine and specialises in three product classes - Vehicle Hire Excess, Travel Insurance and Excess Protection. The business has grown quickly, taking on more staff and moving to larger premises.
Total Machining Solutions
Finalists Total Machining Solutions
A machining firm that works with Formula One Grand Prix teams has been in the fast lane since revving up in 2010.
The business was founded by Paul Beckett who has established a young dynamic complex in Lordswood. It is fitted with the latest equipment offering computer-aided design (CAD), computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) and computer numerical control (CNC) services provided by a skilled workforce.
TMS has worked on aircraft mock-ups for the Airbus A380, A350 and A340, as well as serving Red Bull, Williams, McLaren, Sahara Force India, Mercedes, Lotus, Scuderia Toro Rosso, Marussia and Caterham Formula One teams.
Medway Business Awards are supported by: A Better Medway, ECITB, E.ON, Furley Page, Kent Business School, KM Media Group/Medway Messenger, Lloyds Bank, Medway council, Perducta, Public Health Team (Medway council), Reeves, University for the Creative Arts, the University of Greenwich.
- A full results and picture special will be published in the Medway Messenger next Friday.
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