It didn’t matter that staying in was the new going out – the Northamptonshire Business Excellence Awards 2020 had all the glitz and glamour in a socially distanced version of what would have been one of the highlights of the business social calendar.
Despite technology taking the place of a glittering venue, the evening was a great success, celebrating the achievements and dedication of the business community in a year that has been one of the most challenging in recent history.
The generosity of the sponsors, who stood by the decision to move the awards online, was vital in making the event possible, while Northampton-based sound, light and vision specialists Fabtronic supplied the technical expertise that not only showcased the awards ceremony and interviews with the category winners, but also provided a platform that allowed everyone to chat online during and after the awards, to network and to congratulate – or commiserate with – the winners and finalists.
VIP guests were treated to a party package from Warner’s, as well as a virtual trip to the Warner’s Distillery in Harrington before the awards presentations began, while during the evening live entertainment was provided by local singer Faryl Smith.
Launching the presentations, which were streamed live from Fabtronic’s Moulton Park headquarters, Ben Thomas from All Things Business said: “We have all had to adapt and overcome this year, but despite the challenges, my team and I refused to put a stop to the celebration of our county’s hard work and commitment to getting through this tough time and propping others up along the way.
“Businesspeople of Northamptonshire, you have had one hell of a year, so tonight sit back, enjoy a drink and celebrate business excellence in the county.” And they did!
Apprentice of the Year (sponsored by Starting Off)
Jasmine Abel – Cave and Sons
The judges said: She has not only made an immediate impact but shown a desire to make a difference not only to the company they work for but also to the environment. This person has become an important part of the team which has allowed her confidence to grow. We think it is fair to say she has made an important impact and also futureproofed the company.
Jasmine Abel said: After six months I decided Sixth Form wasn’t for me and started looking around for something different. I never pictured myself in business and finance, but I am enjoying it so much and Cave and Sons is a great company to work for. A massive thank you to everyone at Cave and Sons for giving me this opportunity.
Marketing Campaign of the Year (sponsored by Franklins Solicitors)
Northampton Town F.C.
The judges said: All of the finalists adapted to unprecedented circumstances in a year when marketing was incredibly challenging. From being an important part of the community to closing the doors, enabling little income, the winner showed creativity and innovation to provide their audience with a way in which they could still be involved, and this campaign led to a far greater audience than just Northamptonshire, and generated much needed income. The winner became a trendsetter as other followed in their path, and they should take great pride in what they have achieved.
Caroline Lucy said: We were lucky enough to get into the play-offs , which was a challenge with staff on furlough, and we had to come up with ideas, so the whole virtual platform was born. We all pulled together to make this happen, we are still doing now. One thing it has thrown up is that we are able to reach those people who cannot get to a game through the virtual world. You are nothing without your fans, and they have been a huge part of our success throughout COVID. Now we reach not just those who would normally come to the ground, but people all around the world who follow Northampton Town.
Land & Development Award (sponsored by Moore)
Catalyst Land Solutions
The judges said: The winner has played an instrumental part in what is a national crisis, the shortage of affordable housing. They are at the forefront, despite facing challenges along the way and they have excelled themselves with innovative design solutions. They have made a difference which Northamptonshire is already benefiting from, and will continue to benefit from for generations.
Brian Harding said: “Northamptonshire is a passionate place, with great contractors, sub-contractors, design teams and clients. I’m ecstatic to win this award.
Food and Drink Award (sponsored by SH Pratt)
Brooklyn Brownie Co.
The judges said: The county is blessed with so many fantastic producers and dining establishments that through the covid pandemic have been challenged to the brink and sadly some have even closed their doors for good. The winner has tacked challenges head on, expanding online and maximising its social media, which has resulted in significant growth and work with other industry partners. The future is bright for this father and son team.
John Lashley said: It’s really cool to win this award. Thank you, it’s been crazy, thank you so much.
Professional Services Awards (sponsored by ACS)
The judges said: 2020 proved to be the year when professional services were needed the most. Being available to give professional advice and support to clients when they need you the most is crucial but so is being able to adapt grow your own business in such challenging times. The winner has shown consistent organic growth which has led to acquisitions and growth and impressive year-on-year profits. The winner is a stand-out business that strives to lead from the front.
Greg Guilford said: “The future looks good for us after what has been a tough year for a lot of businesses. We’ve gone above and beyond to support our clients and I’m overwhelmed to win this award against some very strong finalists.”
Innovation Award (sponsored by All Things Management)
FFP Packaging Solutions Limited
The judges said: Innovation not only drives business forward, it also shapes the world around us and the way we lead our lives, even though many do not appreciate the innovation that goes into daily products and services we all benefit from. The winner has demonstrated how you can reduce your carbon footprint by being more environmentally friendly. Their innovation has produced cost-neutral solutions to a landfill problem that will forever change the packaging industry. It will have an impact not only here and now but for generations to come. And this solution was made in Northamptonshire.
Helen Clements said: Thank you, I’m delighted to win this award. FFP Packaging Solutions has been based in Northamptonshire for 54 years, so it is such an accolade to win the award tonight. We’ve always been driven by innovation, but this project has been in development for two and a half years. We’ve worked closely with retail partners and suppliers to come up with a solution to flexible packaging that can be recycled.
Community Project or Person of the Year (sponsored by dbfb)
Teresa McCarthy – The McCarthy-Dixon Foundation
The judges said: Everyone once in while someone comes along and does something of such magnitude that you simply have to stand back in awe. When this person’s own business was forced to close during the pandemic, they decided to do something for the local community and using her closed pub as a base she started delivering food parcels to the elderly and vulnerable and then things really took off and she then created a charity to tackle food poverty and has supported tens of thousands of people around the county and plans to continue that in the future
Theresa McCarthy said: “I’m completely blown away to be in the same line-up as some of the people shortlisted in this category. When we started this food bank, we had no idea of the level of food poverty in this community. Even when we are able to re-open the pub, we will continue. The amount of good people in our county that really care about their neighbours is amazing and I’m so chuffed at how far we have come in so short a time.”
Employer of the Year (sponsored by Wilson Browne Solicitors)
The judges said: To be a great employer you need to be engaged with your team and the team must be involved with the business, to have a voice and be heard and understood. Many businesses do this and there are many great employers in our county, but one really stood out. This winner didn’t just have employee benefit schemes, healthcare and any other token benefits just to tick a box, they were chosen by their employee councils, their employees and management teams. They are equally engaged with the business because their employees are owners of the business.
Kevin Matthews said: “I’m really pleased to accept this award on behalf of all of my colleagues. This is going to be really important for them. It’s our centenary this year and we have been in Northamptonshire for 80 of those years and this is the perfect home for us and the reason we have flourished.”
Businesswoman of the Year (sponsored by BHIB Insurance Brokers)
Sarah Stoute – Full Support Group
The judges said: Starting to grow a business into a multi-million pound turnover is impressive. To do this in a male-dominated sector, to lead by example and to go above and beyond during a global pandemic is highly commendable. The winner of this award has been faced with challenges that she has consistently overcome. She’s been innovative, decisive and ruthless but she has not forgotten her community along the way.
Sarah Stoute said: “We were on Kilimanjaro in January 2020 when we had our team keeping us abreast of the pandemic and we began ramping things up, planning and ordering stock despite the altitude sickness. From there, the whole year has just been flat out. We doubled in size and we couldn’t have asked for more commitment from our team. We were desperate to help the NHS. It has been traumatic, but everyone pulled together.”
Businessman of the Year (sponsored by Northamptonshire Britain’s Best Surprise)
James Booker – Postworks Limited
The judges said: Being a good person in business is not just about the business results and not just about being a good boss. It takes skill to be both and the winner of this category showed commitment to looking after his team and supporting their personal development, inspiring them and focusing on a clear strategic direction for his business, demonstrating growth and ambitions for the future. A good businessperson also looks outside their immediate business and to the community around them and our winner shows commitment to this, too.
James Booker said: “Being a good businessman and a good boss is one and the same thing. It’s impossible to be a successful businessperson if you don’t treat your staff right. Last year was a significant year for us, we grew something like 800%, which is a phenomenal figure. We offer a service that is useful to businesses and the importance of that business model was amplified by COVID and the year’s unfortunate events but we were glad we could be there to back up businesses.”
Business of the Year (sponsored by Lambert Smith Hampton)
Glazerite UK Group Limited
The judges said: To win this category, the winner really needed to stand out from the crowd, to be shining example of a business in the community with ambitious plans supported by a clear growth strategy. This is difficult to do during a worldwide pandemic but our winners did it with careful planning and commitment to supporting their team and going beyond that to create a supportive service for other businesses within the community while showing impressive growth. They also demonstrated a commitment to supporting their local communities with fundraising projects and sponsorship of local sporting venues.
Michelle Wright said: I’m delighted, it’s brilliant to win. We’ve got a fantastic board leading us from the top. This year has been one of the worst for everyone, but they have supported all our staff with 100% pay for everyone. There’s not many big businesses have managed that, let alone businesses of our size. Everyone has really appreciated everything the board has done for us.
Big Business of the Year (sponsored by MHA MacIntyre Hudson)
The judges said: To win Big Busines of the Year it is vital that you have the team in place to help you do so. Having a team of employees who are committed to the company and support you with sheer determination is what we look for in our winner. To weather the storm of 2020 as one is impressive but doing so with the same team shows that the family values instilled in this company remain in place. In a year when the word health has been used quite a lot, the winner of Big Business of the Year has operated in this field to an exceptionally high level. Whether it has been physical or mental health, this company has strived to support their employees and their clients.
Alex Goldsmith said: “It’s a real pleasure, after the year we have been through the overwhelming emotion is just happiness for my staff that have worked so hard to make this happen. You don’t win these awards by accident, it means you’re doing something right, so I’m really chuffed.”