Top firms gathered at Kelham Hall last night for the Newark Business Awards 2014, organised by the Advertiser Media Group.
Morgan Tucker Ltd scooped three awards: Business Of The Year, Excellence In Business (Large) and Training and Staff Development.
The guest speaker at this year's awards was former England rugby union international Rory Underwood.
Event sponsors were Chattertons Solicitors, Newark Business Club, Duncan & Toplis, Handelsbanken, East Midlands Chamber of Commerce, Newark College, and Invest Newark & Sherwood.
Winners and nominees
NEWARK BUSINESS OF THE YEAR 2014: Morgan Tucker Ltd
Apprentice of the Year, sponsored by Newark College
WINNER: Russell Moore, Blue Castle
Samuel Johnson, William Saunders
William Saunders, of Newark, is an architectural, engineering and building consultancy working in the public, commercial and residential sectors.
Sam has completed the second year of his four-year structural engineering technician apprenticeship. He has worked on the design of construction projects from schools to flood defences.
His responsibilities include producing structural engineering drawings on a wide variety of projects, liaising with the company’s engineers to resolve queries, mentoring a new apprentice, and managing the issuing, registering and copying of drawings.
His employers said: “We are proud of Sam and consider he is a model apprentice and a great example of how well apprenticeships can work.”
Robert Ainsworth, Timico
Timico, of Newark, is an independent internet service provider and data centre. Robert joined the company in July 2013, aged 16, on an advanced IT apprenticeship.
He completed his college course and is now a member of the company’s internal IT support team. He was promoted in April to a more technical role, requiring planning and investigation, and setting and managing customer expectations.
He implemented a system for ensuring Timico’s nine meeting rooms were in full IT working order at all times, and also mentors new apprentices. His employers said: “Robert has carved out the position of being our ‘go to’ person in IT.”
Russell Moore, Blue Castle
Blue Castle, of Long Bennington, specialises in environmental waste and energy management. Russell joined the company in April after introducing himself at the Newark Apprentice Fair.
He is now a key account administrator apprentice, whose responsibilities include tender requests, collating contracts, auditing client data and resolving queries with suppliers.
He has also helped to adjust and develop a bespoke department-wide software system created for the company.
His employers said: “Russell is an outstanding young man and in our view shows the lasting benefit to any business that is willing to spend time training and mentoring a young person to become a key member of the team.”
Employee of the Year, sponsored by Newark College
WINNER: Lisa Olson, Gente Bella
Lisa Olson, Gente Bella Ltd
Gente Bella, of Newark, is an independent retailer of clothing and accessories for men, women and children.
Lisa is the company’s longest-serving member of staff, starting as an occasional sales assistant. She is now the manager, responsible for the day-to-day running of the shop and welfare of staff.
She has sole responsibility for the budget and buying of childrenswear, and has increased its profitability by 32%. She has studied as a style consultant in her own time, using her knowledge to advise customers.
Company owner Judith Jess said: “Lisa gives everything to Gente Bella. Customers and staff love her.”
Grace Kedra, Clipper Logistics PLC
Clipper Logistics plc distributes goods for blue chip retailers, with locations throughout the country.
Grace joined Clipper at Ollerton as an agency worker and is now the site’s first training co-ordinator, responsible for 470 full-time staff and two on-site agencies. She has developed the role and created a blueprint for similar roles at other Clipper sites.
She was nominated by Linden Management (UK) Ltd, of Tuxford, a training provider that has worked with Clipper to create the Linden and Clipper Apprenticeship Training Academy.
Managing director Geoff Burn said: “Grace is our key contact. She consistently works beyond her remit and is inspirational to others.”
Cara Hearson, Manor Farm Tea Shoppe
Manor Farm Tea Shoppe, of Bleasby, is a family-run, traditional business with a tea room, function room and B&B accommodation.
Cara joined the business as a 16-year-old apprentice and now works full-time as a chef in the tea shop in the day and in the gastro dining restaurant in the evenings.
Still only 19, she is in charge of the day-to-day running of the kitchen, including managing stock, developing recipes, upholding food hygiene standards and making bespoke celebration cakes.
Manor Farm owner Caroline Goodwin said: “Cara is an absolute pleasure to have in the kitchen and is highly-respected by all team members.”
Excellence in Business, small/medium sponsored by Duncan & Toplis
WINNER: Bazzoo Ltd
Bazzoo Ltd, of Sutton-on-Trent, is a brand and interactive agency that operates locally, regionally and nationally in a range of market sectors. The company, established ten years ago, has eight employees.
A key event in the past 12 months was the winning of a major contract to supply animated avatars to a leading High Street retailer. A specialist animation engine was created to speed up the process of creating multiple 2D characters.
Another major brief was to ensure that Newark was viewed positively in the run-up to this year’s by-election.
Plans for the next 12 months include developing additional studio space and expanding the products and services offered.
Holdens of Newark Ltd
Holdens of Newark Ltd is a family-owned and run furniture retailer established in 1890. It aims to provide quality home furnishings at competitive prices and with traditional service.
The company, with seven employees, provides a substantial range of furnishings to customers locally and nationwide.
Over the last 12-24 months, Holdens has undergone a major re-branding and stock re-vamp to appeal to a younger market while retaining its core older clientele. As a result, both turnover and profit have increased.
Plans for the next year include making better use of the Georgian townhouse element of the store, and introducing a self-contained arm of the business for online trade.
Gente Bella Ltd
Gente Bella Ltd, of Newark, is an independent clothing retailer with nine employees. It aims to make every customer feel comfortable in the shop and leave with an item they will love and wear hundreds of times.
Lifestyle brands stocked include Dubarry, Joules, Crew Clothing, White Stuff and, most recently, Cath Kidston.
Established in 2008, Gente Bella has responded to difficult trading conditions by changing its buying strategy. In the last 12 months this has led to a 70% rise in net profit, and a 9.5% increase in turnover. Plans for the next 12 months include an online outlet for unsold stock.
Excellence in Business, Large, sponsored by Duncan & Toplis
WINNER: Morgan Tucker Ltd
Morgan Tucker Ltd
Morgan Tucker Ltd, of Newark, is an independent consulting engineering business. The company was founded in 2005 and has 70 employees.
The company has clients in the public and private sectors, including most of the local authorities in the East Midlands, and is helping to deliver some of the biggest regeneration and construction schemes in the UK. It also has projects in Europe, China and the Middle East in a wide range of sectors.
An acquisition strategy this year has led to an increase of 20 new members of staff. Work on a second acquisition will result in another 25 staff by the end of 2014.
Blue Castle, of Long Bennington, specialises in environmental waste and energy management. The company was established in 2013 and has 45 employees.
Blue Castle’s waste management team works with large and small companies, both locally and nationally, to collect, treat, recycle and dispose of a huge range of materials.
Becoming a sustainable business last year means that 100% of the waste it produces is recycled. Demonstrating the ability to do this within its own company has increased its client base. Turnover last year increased by 30% but overheads by only 7%.
An aim for the next 12 months is to increase the number of zero landfill clients to 95%.
Kelham House Country Manor Hotel
Kelham House Country Manor Hotel, in Kelham, is a hotel, wedding, restaurant and conference venue. The current owners took over in 2009 and the business has 25 employees.
A total refurbishment was undertaken to meet demand for a top-quality, easily-accessible venue, and the projected turnover this year is four times that when the present owners took over.
Achieving the AA’s three-star accreditation for the hotel and rosette for the restaurant was a highlight of the past year.
Providing a market-leading product, niche wedding services, accessing new markets, and having exceptional customer service give Kelham House a competitive advantage that leaves it well-placed for the future.
Lifetime Achievement Award sponsored by Handelsbanken
WINNER: Charles Lawrence
This year’s Newark Business Awards once again had a special category — the Lifetime Achievement Award.
This award, presented for the first time last year, was presented to an exceptional individual whose effort and determination has had a significant impact on the local business community.
This category was not open for nominations and therefore does not have three finalists.
Instead, a panel of judges selected the individual to receive this award based on their reputation in running their own successful business, their involvement in shaping the area’s economy and their overall outstanding commitment and contribution to the local area.
The winner of the very first award, presented at last year’s business awards, was Graham Cartledge, chairman of global architecture firm Benoy.
Training and Staff Development sponsored by Invest Newark and Sherwood
WINNER: Morgan Tucker Ltd
Morgan Tucker Ltd
Morgan Tucker Ltd, of Newark, is an independent consulting engineering business. The company was founded in 2005 and has 70 employees.
A skilled workforce is vital to the company’s success, and there is constant assessment to determine training requirements, to keep staff up to date with the latest innovations, standards and legislation.
Staff are currently being trained in a major development in the industry, Building Information Modelling.
A skills review of new staff and regular review of all staff identifies any gaps that need filling. Personal development plans support and motivate people to achieve their career objectives, while ensuring business needs are met.
The company is currently training three apprentices.
Blue Castle, of Long Bennington, specialises in environmental waste and energy management. The company, established in 2003, has 45 employees.
Everyone within the company is mentored and monitored on a one-to-one and group basis, and appraisals identify areas for development.
The rapid growth of Blue Castle from six employees five years ago to almost 50 now means training requirements have increased dramatically in both capacity and detail.
To meet demand, the company has adopted the ‘super user’ approach, in which some members of the team undertake professional training to enable them to train others in the company.
Continued support and development leads to a high staff retention rate.
Hoval Ltd, of Newark, designs and manufactures commercial heating and ventilation equipment. The company has been in business since 1887 and employs about 90 people.
Hoval’s training needs encompass manufacturing, product support and in-house business support. Internal appraisals allow management to assess the training needs on a six-monthly rolling basis.
In-house training minimises reliance on third party specialists, and allows experienced staff to pass on skills. The company also benefits the wider building services industry by providing training in renewable energy technologies.
Hoval continues to prioritise training and staff development when many companies are cutting back.
Successful New Business sponsored by Newark Business Club
WINNER: Newark Beauty Rooms
Framin’ ’Ell, of Newark, is a bespoke picture framing service, set up earlier this year by Philip Stephenson after a 37-year armed forces career.
Philip had been a serious hobby framer for ten years, and decided to turn his interest into a business. He is now a member of the Fine Art Trade Guild,
As well as offering standard framing, Framin’ ’Ell specialises in framing unusual objects and sports memorabilia. By charging realistic prices, Philip has grown his client base and was showing an operating profit within six months of trading.
Plans for the future include taking on an apprentice and developing the business into a framing school.
London Eye Bespoke Eyewear
London Eye Bespoke Eyewear, of Newark, is a boutique optical store opened by Paul Cotter in 2012. The company provides private and NHS eye examinations and a wide range of frames, concentrating on high-end and fashion designs.
It has recently moved into larger premises in response to a growing customer base, allowing it to stock the largest selection of designer frames in Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire. The move also allows for development of the company’s sports eyewear and contact lens business. The new premises and developing online business, combined with strategic marketing, will allow London Eye to triple its sales and double its staff in the next two years.
Newark Beauty Rooms
Newark Beauty Rooms, of Newark, was opened in 2013 by Sarah Belton. It is a high-quality beauty therapy salon, specialising in top-of-the-range skincare treatments and other beauty services, including holistic therapy.
Having run a successful beauty clinic in Grantham, Sarah wanted to open a business in her home town of Newark. Local research identified a gap in the market for certain brands and treatments, which she now provides at Newark Beauty Rooms
The salon is a spacious, dedicated beauty retreat with five treatment rooms and further expansion planned.
Continuing training of the skilled and experienced staff is a priority to ensure the best treatments and service.
Customer Service Award sponsored by East Midlands Chamber of Commerce
WINNER: The Handicentre Ltd
Newark Paint and Hardware
Newark Paint and Hardware, of Newark, is an independent retailer, opened by Jon Whiles in 2012.
One nominator said: “Nothing is too much trouble. A great service. I shall recommend to family and friends.”
Another said: “I had a small repainting job to do which did not merit a 5-litre tin of paint. This was no problem for Newark Paint and Hardware, who mixed and matched the exact amount I needed.”
A third said: “Jon provides a personal service that is second to none in the town. I can’t recommend him highly enough.”
Another said: “Product knowledge is very impressive and help is given without any pressure.”
Handicentre Ltd is a hardware and DIY store with branches in Southwell and Bingham.
One nominator said: “The Handicentre is always a happy place to visit with cheerful, helpful and polite staff who have excellent knowledge of the products sold. A marvellous company.”
Another said: “They seem to stock everything.”
A third said: “They are a key business in the community.”
Another said: “The shop has an amazing array of hardware goods — just like an Aladdin’s cave. If they haven’t got what you require, they will order it for you. I don’t know what I would do if this shop wasn’t trading.”
Professional hairdressers Inizio, of Newark, have been praised by their clients for making them feel special.
One said: “The staff always go the extra mile. They make you feel special and nothing is too much trouble. I would never go anywhere else since I’ve found Inizio.
Another said: “I’ve been to many salons to have my hair done and this is the best.”
A third said: “”Lovely place and lovely people.”
Another said: “Truly exceptional customer service is part of the fabric at Inizio. Every member of the team subscribes whole-heartedly to this ethos, making every visit an absolute delight. I always leave looking forward to my next appointment.”
Business Person of the Year, sponsored by Chattertons
WINNER: Judith Jess, Gente Bella Ltd
Judith Jess, Gente Bella Ltd
Judith Jess is a director of Gente Bella, a lifestyle clothing retailer that she opened in Newark in 2008, with no retail background.
Vision, determination, dedication and hard work have contributed to the success of the business. Early profits were re-invested, and two years ago the floor space was doubled. In the last year profits have increased by 70%.
Judith has recently succeeded in making Gente Bella the only new account to be opened this year by premium lifestyle brand Cath Kidston.
Judith is always trying to drive the business forward with new ideas, and credits her wonderful staff with putting these ideas into practice.
Sarah Belton, Newark Beauty Rooms
Sarah Belton is a director of Newark Beauty Rooms, which she opened last year.
She has been in the beauty business for 25 years, starting as a newly-qualified beauty therapist at the award-winning Grantham Beauty Clinic, which she has owned for the past 13 years.
Newark Beauty Rooms, which opened only last year, is a high-quality salon specialising in top-of-the-range skincare treatments and beauty services.
Sarah’s strength lies in identifying and meeting her clients’ needs. She still finds time to be a hands-on therapist, despite having two businesses, which keeps her in touch with her clients.
Investing in staff development is of prime importance to Sarah, and she leads by example with her enthusiasm and passion for her business.
Matthew Tucker, Morgan Tucker Ltd
Matthew Tucker is the owner and managing director of independent engineering consultancy Morgan Tucker, of Newark, which he started in 2005. It is now a multi-national, multi-million pound business.
The company has clients in the public and private sectors in the UK, Europe, China and the Middle East.
Matthew is described as the brains behind the business, and key to its success to date. The company’s growth has been built around two groups – staff and clients – and Matthew’s people skills have played a crucial part in building these working relationships.
His focus has seen the business grown fourfold in recession, and he inspires his colleagues with his vision and ambition.
Guest speaker and England rugby union international Rory Underwood, ahead of the awards ceremony
There were many tweets sent throughout the evening, too:
Enjoying the Newark Business Awards this evening @KELHAM_HALL Beautifful setting. Good luck to all the finalists!— Ringrose Law (@RingroseLaw) December 1, 2014