Building on success! The stories behind the Northern Lincolnshire Business Awards winners

By Grimsby Telegraph | Posted: 17 May 2016

A HARD hat hat-trick completed at the Northern Lincolnshire Business Awards has ensured the construction capabilities returning in spades after a recession are now highly visible in this area.

A tremendous evening for JemBuild managing director Paul Barker saw him named Wilkin Chapman Business Person Of The Year, with his Grimsby company taking the North East Lincolnshire Business Development Award – for the second successive year.

It came 24 hours after the largest project completed to date, a £3-million three-storey teaching block addition to the school in his home village of Healing, won Best Education Project at the region’s Building Excellence Awards.

And it topped off a sensational week which started by securing a £1 million tender for the expansion of The Academy Grimsby.

A highly emotional Mr Barker, who dedicated his efforts to his late father, enjoyed a supercharged night, six years on from launching from the depths of despair which claimed his employer, North Killingholme’s Clark Construction, and other high profile industry names.

He said: “It was fantastic to win the job at The Academy Grimsby, then last night to win the award when up against a £15 million new school, we couldn’t believe it happened. Now we have this and it means so much.

“I’m very passionate about Grimsby, I don’t like it when we see companies coming in from away to do work here, and then taking the money out. I hope now there is an understanding that we can do any job, we can compete with them all.

“We use 100 per cent local contractors, it means all the money stays in the area, I am so passionate about that.”

He now has four apprentices within the 22-strong team, and is looking forward to an imminent move to a statement self-build base on Wilton Road, Humberston.

“I want to build this business for the future, for our kids, Joe and Eve,” he said.

JemBuild’s name is drawn together by the initials of his children and his wife Michele, who he describes as his ‘rock’, having been together for 30 years. 

She was by his side as he collected the award on stage at Grimsby Auditorium, a feature of the evening for several winners, underlining the commitment, and recognition of frequent sacrifices, that come with pushing for such success.

JemBuild is now turning over £6.5 million a year with the aim of getting to £10 million by 2018.

AWARD NUMBER TWO: Ray Oxby presents Paul Barker with the The North East Lincolnshire Business Development Award, joined by members of the team, Kevin Hopper, left, and Helen Fospero.

Referring back to the dark days of his former employer’s demise, Mr Barker, president of Grimsby District Builders’ Association, said: “In the aftermath I was fortunate enough to be offered a job with a good pay packet, but I said no. I always wanted to be my own boss, and Michele said ‘do what makes you happy’. I am sure there are many who get to the same position, they get into a good job, they don’t want to leave. I was loyal to Clark, but when it happened, it was the chance to do this.

“Now it makes me happy when we win contracts. When we won The Academy contract I texted everyone of our 22 people and the responses were ‘Brilliant!’, ‘I’m happy!’ and ‘Fantastic!’.

“We have a really good workforce, and they love it when we get such a job as they know it is secure. It is not just about my family, I feel responsible for their families, too.

“I know we win work on quality submissions, not always on price, but on delivering the package, which I think is refreshing and reassuring, too, when it comes to the industry.”

A strong brand and pride in the team and their appearance has made JemBuild a stand-out operation, with the judges picking up on the loyalty.

It resonated with Ruth Brewin, partner at Wilkin Chapman, the award sponsor and panel judge for the Hull and Humber Chamber of Commerce event.

She said: “What came over was the commitment to staff, they really like working for him. He cares for them, their safety and their future. They trust him and he trusts them. That’s quite unusual and a real distinguishing feature.”

North East Lincolnshire Council leader, Ray Oxby – presenting the second award of the night to JemBuild, added: “It is the community ethos that is supported here that mattered. It is not just about profit, an individual’s money, but about community, and ensuring it goes back into community. I see energy, passion and commitment.”

ID CONFIRMED: Receiving The Business Hive Small Business Award from Mark Webb, left, are, directors, Andy Inch, Tom Williams and James Lockwood, and employee Rob Cook.

Also a winner on the night was ID Architecture, a company JemBuild has partnered with on several projects, including the new statement headquarters on Wilton Road which they will also move into this summer.

The creative architectural and interior design service provider was awarded The Business Hive Small Business Award – also won by JemBuild in 2014.

James Lockwood, architect and partner at the company, said: “It means a lot to us. It is our sixth birthday, we are just about to move offices, to a place we have designed, and we have another member of staff joining us. It is the cherry on the icing on the cake.”

He joined ID – created by founding directors Andy Inch and Tom Williams – two years ago as it rapidly grew.

It too launched in the midst of the recession, with Mr Inch and Mr Williams leaving a practice in Lincoln to go it alone.

“It was a difficult time, but we are well over that now,” said Mr Inch, referring to times when construction notoriously lags behind the upturn post crash. “Turnover has doubled year on year for the last three years, it really is a case of onwards and upwards.” 

Mr Williams said: “I think our reputation was built in that first three years, with the projects we undertook. We are now a team of six, we have some really exciting projects coming forward.”

PROFESSIONAL PRIDE: Peter Fearn, second left, partner at Forrester Boyd, presents the Business Excellence Award to Des Mannion, with senior partner Mark Carlton to the right of compere Helen Fospero. 

RECORD growth in 2015 saw Wilkin Chapman take the Forrester Boyd Award for Business Excellence at the Northern Lincolnshire Business Awards. 

The law firm posted a 31 per cent increase in profit, with turnover up 11 per cent too.

While gearing up for a move to a new Grimsby headquarters, the company operates out of nine offices across Lincolnshire and Yorkshire, providing legal services to local, regional, national and international clients. 

Mark Carlton, senior partner, said: “It is great recognition in our home town. I sometimes wonder what Mr Wilkin and Mr Chapman would make of it all. I have been there since 1983, and to win this award is fantastic. The way the firm is continuing to progress just amazes me and I know when I leave it will be in much better hands than when I picked it up.”

Outlining a commitment to source local talent, and a desire to help boost the economy by working with business, he said: “We want to help people to achieve what they can achieve. You don’t have to go to big cities to build good careers and build successful businesses, and you don’t have to go outside the town for accountancy or legal services. 

“We have opportunities with the new building, the ability to grow further, and it is something that will look fantastic for the town centre. It will be an iconic building, but more than that it will be part of the regeneration of the town.

“We are going to keep 250 people in the town centre.”

Wilkin Chapman will be the anchor tenant of North East Lincolnshire Council’s development of Cartergate, a £6 million four-storey facility to meet the modern needs of a firm steeped in history, having grown organically and via strategic acquisitions both in the town and widening geographical reach. 

For chief executive Des Mannion, it represented a first full year at the helm. 

He said: “The fact we are recognising a firm that is 116 years old and I have been there 16 months, means I feel a bit of a fraud.

“We have a great firm of very good lawyers and since I have been here I have been taking the lid off and letting them strut their stuff. That is what we needed to do to let the business breathe and thrive. 

“That has been year one, year two will be to really go harder on the overall strategy.”

He praised the local authority’s focus on creating an enabling culture for a stronger economy and therefore a stronger community, describing Cartergate as “a brilliant example of two organisations working together for the benefit of the town”.

Mr Mannion also highlighted the work of the Chamber in throwing the bash, which the company itself has supported for more than a decade. 

“Business like ours, like Forrester Boyd, other businesses either recognised or supporting tonight, are at the forefront,” he said. “It is right that we should be encouraging success, rewarding it.”

WORTHY WINNER: Kurt Christensen, with wife Carol, receives the award from David Laister, with Owen Finn, far left, president of the Hull and Humber Chamber of Commerce, and Helen Fospero, far right.

HONORARY Danish Consul Kurt Christensen was awarded the Grimsby & Scunthorpe Telegraph Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of the role he has played in helping establish the area as a welcoming offshore wind location.

A businessman who has evolved with his surroundings, from fish merchant to fish auctioneer, then wind farm support provider, he is one of the pioneers of a maturing industry on Grimsby’s port estate, and a founder member of the Grimsby Renewables Partnership.

The award was presented by David Laister, business editor, who told how the Mr Christensen was credited by numerous inward investors in the sector for effectively selling the town’s benefits to them, while ensuring a demanding industry where immediacy is key, was well served.

He said: “He is the go-to man for companies and individuals from a country we are intrinsically linked with. He is a living legacy of Grim in Grimsby and we are greater for it, with that connection now stronger than ever.

“Recognised twice by the Queen of his long-departed home nation, we felt it high time, Kurt Christensen, first knight of Denmark, was rewarded here.

“There are countless examples of his great efforts to go the extra mile, from ambassadorial tour guide and honest sounding board for relocating families, to solutions provider to the biggest corporates this area has ever known. ‘Yes is the answer, now what is the question’ is the motto of the Windpower Support company he formed, having convinced his wonderfully understanding wife to remortgage their Cleethorpes home (to fund a first crew transfer vessel) at a time many would expect to pay theirs off.

“He is one of the most colourful characters industry will see, a true gent with a sparkle matched by few. If you are a stranger in his company, you are soon a friend, and certainly aware of what Grimsby has to offer.

“From site security to crew transfer vessels, helping transform a ferry to a floating hotel workshop, ships’ agency to emergency babysitter, there is very little that hasn’t been done, with many roped in along the way, and all the richer for it.”

The award was well received in the room, with Dong Energy UK chairman Brent Cheshire, Hull and Humber Chamber of Commerce’s guest of honour, among the first to congratulate him, and Tue Lippert, who led the delivery of Dong’s first wind farm from Grimsby – Westermost Rough – also invited back.

Mr Christensen, who joked “at 36 he still had lots to do,” said: “I am absolutely honoured to have been given this. I don’t think I deserve it, but I am very grateful. How can you get something like this for doing something you enjoy so much? 

“I just keep battling on. Grimsby is a good town full of good people. All you have got to do is take a little time out to show people how nice it is. That is what I did with Dong and Siemens when they first came back in 2008. Everyone was saying ‘oh Grimsby, oh Grimsby’ being negative, but within two or three days we showed them the right places to go. The work ethic is something else too. Business-wise it is a great place to invest.

“We take for granted the natural environment too. We have the coastline and open countryside accessible in 10 minutes from the docks. We shouldn’t underestimate how attractive that can be for many.”

Born in Denmark and the son of a trawler skipper, Mr Christensen came to England at the age of three, and his family soon settled in Grimsby.

Fiercely proud of both his Danish heritage and Grimbarian life, he is a popular figure under the shadow of the Dock Tower, having built up Meridian Fish Sales on Auckland Road, a company which he formed in 1982.

He was asked to be honorary Danish consul in 1994, a position he regarded as a great privilege. Nine years later he was included in the Danish new year’s honours list, with a first class knighthood bestowed upon him in 2012 by Queen Margrethe II, in recognition of the work done in offshore wind, as well as his ongoing consular service. 

Of his role, Mr Christensen then remarked: “The most important aspect is to foster good relations between the country which you represent and the country where you live.

“I have taken great pride in helping out any Danes over here, and the role is now far more business orientated than it ever has been.”

In the four years that have passed since, that has elevated again, with a tide of announcements and acquisitions in offshore wind development by Dong Energy as it builds up a huge project pipeline as the world’s leader, and the supply chain elements follow. 

JOINT WINNER: Andy Green of Lyke Limited, receives his award from Paul Lee, with Kathy Fillingham, left, and Helen Fospero, right.

TWO inspirational young entrepreneurs were celebrated for their achievements at this year’s Northern Lincolnshire Business Awards.

Andy Green, of web development firm Lyke Ltd, and Myles Shaw, of Carpet Runners UK, ran out as joint winners in the Franklin College Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award category.

While each nominee has their own remarkable tale of how they entered the world of business, presenter of the award Paul Lee, director of teaching and learning at Franklin College in Grimsby, said he hoped the pair’s success could inspire the next generation of young entrepreneurs.

Andy Green, 19, who suffers with cerebral palsy, impressed judges with the “drive, tenacity and entrepreneurship” he has demonstrated since launching his own software and web development company in 2010.

After building his own business, Andy was contracted by The David Ross Education Trust to establish a new registration system at its colleges.

Within one year, his company managed to turn over more than £10,000.

And his business shows no signs of slowing down after Andy recently gained a contract for another client to create a bespoke ecommerce website.

Speaking after he picked up the award, Andy said: “I’m pretty speechless to be fair – it is just amazing.

“It makes all the endless hours that I have put in over the past year so worth it.

“I hoped I would win but I was so, so happy just to be shortlisted.”

He added: “They shortlisted me even though I had no business figures to submit at that time. It was just incredible.”

Not satisfied with his own business, Andy has also taken part in social causes, including, charity Counting Hope, launched to empower the people of Cape Verde through education.

He hopes to educate young people on disabilities in the future.

JOINT WINNER: Myles Shaw, second right, of Carpet Runners UK, receives his award from Paul Lee, with Kathy Fillingham and Helen Fospero.

Also picking up the award was 29-year-old Myles Shaw of Carpet Runners UK.

The managing director of the largest business of its kind in the UK, Myles’ firm specialises in hallway carpet runners, stair runners and wedding aisle runners.

Nine years ago, Myles noticed a roll of carpet runner in his father’s shop.

Needing to make up the £100 a week the family lost when Myles’ wife went on maternity leave, he decided to put it on eBay and was amazed to see how quickly it sold.

This inspired Myles to jump on a plane to Germany to buy direct from the manufacturer. His company now stocks 350 different variations of colour and designs and continues to go from strength to strength.

“This award really does mean a lot to me,” he said.

“I believe in what I do and I think it’s nice for other people to recognise that and it reminds me that I am on the right path.

“You don’t go into business to win awards and truthfully I didn’t think I was good enough to win - you do it to put food on the plate.

“It is something I don’t think I could have ever dreamed of.”

He added: “It’s been five years hard slog but the business is going really well.

“People sometimes don’t see the late nights and the early hours that go into it.”

Mr Lee said: “We felt that both businesses had people running them who are inspirational to other young people.”

HIGHWAY TO SUCCESS: North Lincolnshire Council leader, Baroness Redfern, left, presents the award to Road Traffic Solutions Ltd directors Les Smith, Stephanie Morley and Ben Dexter. Also pictured is Helen Fospero.

A NORTH Lincolnshire traffic management firm that has worked on the London Olympics and Le Tour de France is hoping to boost trade locally after scooping a top award.

Road Traffic Solutions Ltd, based in Scunthorpe, won the North Lincolnshire Business Development Award at this year’s ceremony after judges were impressed by the firm’s strong growth and the work it has carried out on a national level.

The company also deals in event management, having worked on some of the most prestigious sporting events in the world.

Director Stephanie Morley said she hoped winning the award could raise the company’s profile locally.

“We don’t really do a lot of work in the northern Lincolnshire area so hopefully this award will help with us being recognised more locally,” she said.

“We do a lot of national events.

“This award means a lot to us but it’s all about our employees at the end of the day.”

Fellow director Les Smith endorsed that view. 

He added: “We put a lot of investment into our people, so this award is for them.

“It’s been about expanding at the right pace and at the right time.”

The company is now in its 12th year, with the members of staff expanding from five to 150 during that time.

Judges of the award were also impressed with the way in which the business had given young people from the surrounding areas a chance to succeed, as well as recording 36 per cent growth in the last year.

Ben Dexter, a third director, said: “Our customers have believed in us from the start.”

With its headquarters in Scunthorpe, the business has expanded its reach all over the country, establishing satellite depots in Birmingham; Cumbernauld in Scotland; Mildenhall in Suffolk; Watford in Hertfordshire and Barking, east London.

Road Traffic Solutions Ltd has become a popular choice to employ traffic and pedestrian solutions for a whole manner of situations, from the re-surfacing of potholes, to other urgent maintenance works.

APP-LAUSE: Joanne Dixon, second left, managing director of HBP Systems, presents the award to Sharon and Simon Beniston, joined by Kathy Fillingham, left, and Helen Fospero. 

AN ENTREPRENEUR who felt inspired to launch his own health app after stumbling across the victim of a hit and run has been commended for his innovation.

Simon Beniston, founder and chief executive of MediBioSense Ltd, accepted The HBP Systems Innovation Award for his firm’s Health24 mobile phone application and wearable technology.

The mobile app, which has been made available on Apple and Google App stores, provides free health information to anyone in the world and it has now been downloaded in 103 countries.

Mr Beniston, who is based in Westwoodside, said he was inspired to launch the app after driving through Doncaster four years ago when he came across someone laid down by the roadside.

“I thought they were drunk and had collapsed,” he said.

“I stopped to see if they were okay and it turned out it had been a hit and run and they were seriously injured. I didn’t know what to do.

“I didn’t know where I was and it took me about five minutes to find out. The ambulance crew struggled to find us even though we were in a built-up area.”

He added: “That’s when I had the idea for a free app which could tell you where the nearest hospital was.

“Thankfully, the guy survived.”

The app works by utilising NHS Choices’ Interactive Encyclopaedia of health conditions. 

Users can search by body part, first letter or ‘whole body.’

It is also able to locate the nearest health services based on the user’s location via GPS.

As well as the Health24 app, Simon has built up a strong customer base with MBS Connect - wearable clinical grade biosensors and mobile technology.

According to the firm, it is the only clinical grade wearable biometric patch on the market with an accuracy rate of 99.6 per cent.

It is able to measure vital signs such as the user’s, heart rate, heart rate variability, respiratory rate and skin temperature

The technology has proven popular with some of the biggest sporting names and health providers across the globe, with it being used at the Rugby Union Six Nations matches.

Simon’s wife, Sharon Beniston, is MediBioSense Ltd’s finance manager. She said: “It means the world to us to have won this award. 

“It shows that when you believe in something and you put so much hard work into it, it does pay off.”

EARLY WIN: Bridge McFarland partner Stephen Oldridge, left, presents ON Marketing with the award. Second left is apprentice Jordan Hill, with directors Joe Stoney and James Southworth, with Helen Fospero. 

LANDING a major client in Scunthorpe’s national soup brand Glorious! impressed judges behind The Bridge McFarland New Business Award.

ON Marketing Ltd was launched by James Southworth and Joe Stoney in August 2014, uniting complementary experience from corporate and SME backgrounds. 

Work with TSC Foods was won early, and has helped the two become a team of 10.

Mr Southworth said: “This means everything for us, it is real recognition for the hard work put in over the last couple of years. 

“We have a team now behind us, supporting us with everything, and that is why we are constantly growing.”

Judges noted a series of clever re-investments and an ambitious development and growth plan.

Now based in Oswald Road, it was initial search engine optimisation work with then neighbour TSC as they operated from The Admin Centre, that led to website, and then full service offering to the distinctive brand.

Mr Stoney said: “Following on from that work we have welcomed other national clients. 

“It is an honour to win, I was really pleased to even be nominated.”

It capped a memorable week for Mr Stoney, who became a father just days before.

CATCH OF THE DAY: ABP's Grimsby & Immingham Port Manager Mike Sellers, left, presents Louise and Andrew Coulbeck with their award, with Helen Fospero, second right. 

THE family business behind the BigFish Brand had strong sales recognised as they push on for more with vital investment in the Grimsby factory.

JCS Fish took the ABP Business Growth Award, with a significant spend on the Murray Street premises recognised. 

With turnover up by a third to £6 million and staff also increasing by a quarter, it has primed itself to build on a 10 per cent increase in volumes.

Owned by Andrew and Louise Coulbeck, the 40-strong team specialise in the supply of responsibly sourced prepared salmon to the catering and food service trade, as well as independent retailers.

It has won numerous industry awards for the product, but decided to push the whole business this time.

They have recently brought in marketing expertise with a strong track record in the industry, prompting the award entry.

“We were under the radar, but we thought it was our time to blossom,” they said. “The brand is going very well, and we need to push that even more. 

“We are very proud of Grimsby, what we are about, and while we have kept our heads down, and never really looked up from behind the parapet, it is great to be recognised for what we do every day.”

FINE EXPORTS: Phil Carr, second left, presents the award to Simon Atkinson and Mike Butters, watched by kathy Fillingham and Helen Fospero.

THE managing director of a thriving Grimsby business dedicated his prize to his colleagues’ 13 years of “hard graft” at the firm.

Mariner Packaging, a global exporter of high quality food packaging and construction materials, was named winner of the HSBC International Trade Award.

The accolade is just another success in a year which has seen the business swell in size, with a 200 per cent increase in recruitment.

An initial target for a 10 per cent increase in international operations was originally set, but the company has since confounded all expectations, recording sales of 20 per cent.

The packaging company, based on Estate Road Six also secured valuable distribution agreements with clients in countries including North and South America, mainland Europe and the Middle East.

But despite their hugely successful year, managing director Simon Atkinson admitted he was still amazed that his company managed to pick up the award. 

“It’s a complete surprise to have won,” he said.

“It’s overwhelming when you look at all the competition we were up against.

“It has been 13 years of hard graft to get to where we are and this award just fortifies our passion.

“We have been travelling all around Europe and various other countries to get more trade. We want to keep providing those opportunities for the people who work for us.

“Some of what we have done has led us to work with the European Space Agency and companies in Chile.”

The company deals in odour neutralizers and specialist foils, orginating from supplying the seafood industry.

Michael Butters, operations director, added: “There has been a continual effort to break into different markets.

“We are hitting £5 million turnover this year which is a 20 per cent increase on what we did last year. We have gone from zero to £5 million in the space of 13 years.

“When I came there were just four of us and now there are 25.

“We could not have foreseen that.”

Phil Carr, corporate relationship manager at HSBC, congratulated the firm’s bravery in trying to break into new markets abroad. 

“As a bank we have a real desire to trade with businesses that import and export overseas,” he said. “It has been a gamble for them but it has paid off.”

PAINT THE TOWN RED: Gill Alton, second left, chief executive of Grimsby Institute, presents the award to Ben Parsley and Natalie Hood. Also pictured are Helen Fospero, right, and Kevin Hopper, left.

FIFTEEN workforce volunteers acting as training champions ensured industrial paint specialist Jotun was named champion trainer.

The Flixborough site of the international operator won the Grimsby Institute Training Excellence Award for the innovative approach to ensuring the 100 operators in the 220-strong team are safe and skilled. 

Ben Parsley, head of operations at what is the largest Jotun facility in Europe, said: “It is fantastic. The guys back on site will really treasure this. Training for us is number one. Jotun is all about people, and when going for growth it applies to the business and the people. We develop people so they can thrive and we can deliver for our customers.

“This is great recognition for our training champions. They are all volunteers who stood up and said to the business that they wanted to make a difference and help grow the business.”

Last year the plant manufactured 24.3 million litres of paint. Judges heard the new training programme is exceeding expectations and rapidly gaining global recognition. 

They were impressed by how they all differed in age and experience, but shared the passion outlined by Mr Parsley, helping smash budgeted targets by 19 per cent, while improving working relations.

COMMUNITY CHAMPIONS: The Young's Seafood team, with chief executive Pete Ward, centre, and Dan Wilson of Barclays, to his right. 

SEAFOOD giant Young’s has reaffirmed its relationship with the Grimsby community after winning big at the Northern Lincolnshire Business Awards.

Chief executive Pete Ward described the achievement as a “proud moment” for the leading supplier of frozen and chilled seafood and praised his staff for “making a difference to the local economy.”

His comments came after Young’s Seafood won the Barclays Excellence in Community Relations Award.

Judges of the award cited the firm’s commitment to Grimsby community, including their support for the 40th Cleethorpes Carnival, the inaugural Cleethorpes Winter Wonderland and their continued sponsorship of Grimsby Town Football Club.

The company was also praised for its work in raising £130,000 for charity.

Last month, the company announced it would renew its sponsorship of the club in the 2016/2017 season and announced the Findus Stand would be renamed Young’s Upper and Young’s Lower.

After receiving the accolade, Mr Ward said the relationship between the community and local businesses was “so important” and hailed those who “make a difference.”

“This is a very proud moment and I am accepting this award on behalf of the many local employees,” he said.

“It is a reward for their efforts and the difference they make to the local economy.”

He added: “It’s been a fantastic evening of awards, with some very touching stories about individuals and families who are in business.”

Judges of the award were also impressed with the firm’s 10 Principles of Responsible Fish procurement, which aims to ensure great quality fish is accessible to all, as well as their award-winning Fish for Life CSR programme.

Words: David Laister and Alex Thorp. Pictures: Rick Byrne. 

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