OVER THE last decade, the Yorkshire Post Excellence in Business Awards have been made possible through the unstinting support of some very high-profile partners, including one of Yorkshire’s most successful firms, DLA Piper.
The global law firm has been a top-level backer of the awards since their inception in 2006, and has sponsored the award for Companies with Turnover Above £50m since 2007.
Sarah Day, managing partner of DLA Piper’s Leeds office, said the awards highlighted the region’s punching power across diverse sectors.
“DLA Piper is delighted to be sponsoring the Yorkshire Post Excellence in Business Awards again this year.
“The awards highlight and recognise the breadth and strength of businesses with their base in Yorkshire and put Yorkshire firmly on the map as home to some of the world’s leading businesses in a wide range of industries from manufacturing and IT solutions, to retail and financial services nationally and internationally,” she said.
The over £50m turnover category has had some truly impressive winners, many of which have seized the opportunity provided by the awards to capitalise on their heightened profile and continue on their growth trajectory.
The first was Keepmoat, the Doncaster-based construction company, which specialises in social projects. When it won in 2006, it was turning over £468m, but had a long-term turnover target of £1bn.
The then chief executive, David Blunt, described Keepmoat at the time as a “people business”, saying: “One of our drivers is that ‘every person is a business person’. Everybody can come up with their own ideas, their own thoughts, their own innovations. We welcome their ideas.”
It’s an ethos that appears to have borne fruit. The business experienced slower growth through the financial crisis, which hit the construction sector hard, and its headcount is similar to what it was ten years ago, and yet it finally achieved its long-held goal last year after turnover leapt by nearly 18 per cent to £1.1bn.
Two years later, Sheffield Forgemasters International claimed the award. At the time, it was riding high following a 2005 management buyout that had saved it from closure and had heroically overcome the challenges presented by a flooded plant in 2007.
Turnover had topped £100m, it had a £120m order book and customers worldwide were queueing up for its products.
A decade later, the company is still battling on. The exceptionally high quality of its castings has insulated it from the worst of the steel industry downturn, but not entirely; last month it shed 50 jobs.
Nevertheless, turnover is still around the £80m mark, and just last week it announced it had beaten off stiff Korean opposition to win a £1m contract with an American steel company – exhibiting the kind of resilience that may yet see it win more awards in years to come.
The next year, the winner of the award was engaged in a rather kinder – and colder – industry. The judges said 2009 winner R&R Ice Cream stood out by achieving profitable growth during a recession while selling to “notoriously difficult” customers.
The secret to the company’s success, it transpired, was fun. Founder James Lambert, who went on to win the Individual Award at the 2012 awards – and the even more prestigious UK Entrepreneur of the Year title the following year – told The Yorkshire Post that humour was the best motivator in the world.
“There is only one way to lead people; you have to win their minds and lead them. Good people don’t want to be managed; it drives them barmy,” he said.
“What do we do? We make ice cream. You can’t take that too seriously.
“It is one of the most fun things in the world.”
The other winners of the over £50m turnover award category at The Yorkshire Post Excellence in Business Awards have included some of the most respected names in our region’s corporate community.
The big players who have triumphed in this category include MKM Building Supplies (2007), Croda (2010), Premier Farnell (2011), Allied Glass (2012), Zenith (2013), Asda (2014) and Portakabin (2015).
Which company will win the award this year is anybody’s guess – the closing date for entries is May 17 – but Sarah Day, the managing partner of DLA Piper’s Leeds office, is in no doubt as to the value of entering.
“We encourage all businesses in Yorkshire to consider entering the awards,” she said.
“There are many different categories, covering all aspects and size of business, allowing entrants to demonstrate what makes them stand out as an exceptional business.
“Winning one of these prestigious awards is an outstanding accolade, demonstrating exceptional levels of quality, performance and innovation.”
The Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Greg Hands, will provide an insight into the Government’s economic strategy when he addresses The Yorkshire Post’s Excellence in Business Awards this autumn.
In doing so, he will join illustrious company; previous speakers have included David Cameron, William Hague, George Osborne, Nick Clegg, Vince Cable, Iain Duncan Smith and Dr John Sentamu, Archbishop of York.
Mr Hands said: “I am delighted to be speaking at The Yorkshire Post’s Excellence in Business Awards later this year. Backing northern businesses and celebrating their successes is key to building a strong Northern Powerhouse.”
THE Yorkshire Post Excellence in Business Awards honour companies of all shapes and sizes. They were established in 2006 to show the dazzling range of businesses that have made Yorkshire their home.
The main sponsors are DLA Piper, PwC and Yorkshire Bank. The event’s associate sponsors are Plusnet, the Sewell Group and Bradford University School of Management. To enter, visit www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/awards
Here is a full list of the categories:
Companies with a turnover over £50m. Sponsored by DLA Piper: This category honours the commercial giants which conduct business on a vast scale, but still understand the importance of training, research, innovation and long-term business planning.
Companies with a turnover between £10m and £50m. Sponsored by PwC: This award focuses on mid-tier firms which are the real powerhouse of the region’s economy. It honours those firms which have made astute investment decisions without losing sight of the bottom line.
Companies with a turnover up to £10m. Sponsored by Yorkshire Bank: Our region has a world class collection of SMEs. This award highlights the work carried out by smaller firms which are often enjoying rapid growth, while continuing to develop new services and products.
Young Business. Sponsored by Plusnet: A new category focusing on rapidly growing businesses in our region. Celebrating the success of small businesses with big ambitions who are using innovation to the best effect to drive their business and/or industry forwards
Outstanding Employer: Sponsored by Bradford University School of Management: This award recognises those employers that truly value their staff, and reward them in a sustainable way that nurtures the company. They have a deep-rooted and integrated approach to personal development.
Exporter: The winner of this award is really helping to drive the export-led recovery. The winner might have moved into overseas markets before the competition, and have acquired a detailed understanding of the nuances of each market.
Entrepreneur. Sponsored by The Sewell Group: This award honours a rare individual who inspires others to greatness and isn’t scared to take risks in pursuit of reward. They are leaders in their field, who are also respected by their community.
Technology: In this category, we are seeking a winner who harnesses technology to give their firm the edge. They are leaders, and not followers, in the technological arena. They understand how the world of business has changed in the 21st century.
Turnaround: This award honours a business that is flourishing after coming back from the brink. It has far-sighted leaders who held their nerve to build a sustainable future for the company and its staff.
Commercial space: We’re seeking a commercial project that is an inspiring use of commercial space, and also shows the real value of world class architects and designers. It can be a new build or an existing project.
Diversity: This honours companies that value every employee, and have gone beyond the call of duty to ensure they attract and retain a workforce that reflects the diversity of British society. They are taking a pro-active approach to fighting discrimination, and reaping financial benefits.
Apprenticeship: Appren- ticeships are staging a comeback, and the winner of this award has placed apprenticeships at the heart of its growth plans. They are turning the apprentices of today into the captains of industry of tomorrow.
Leadership: Nobody forgets a great leader, and this award honours an individual who has displayed courage, tenacity and wisdom in a tough role.
Lifetime. Sponsored by The Yorkshire Post: This award honours an individual who has made a commitment to Yorkshire business their life’s work.