And the winner is….Here are the results of the 2020 Sentinel Business Awards

Today we are proud to announce the winners of The Sentinel Business Awards for 2020. Normally this would be done with great fanfare on the stage at the magnificent King’s Hall in Stoke in front of an audience of 450 guests and VIPs. Sadly, due to the pandemic and its effects, we are unable to stage a celebration at this time, and having already postponed the original awards dinner from March, it is time to share the good news.

Since 1995 The Sentinel newspaper has been celebrating the successes of the business community here in North Staffordshire – the innovators, the wealth creators and the companies that are achieving great things. The Sentinel Business Awards is the largest annual event that we stage and always a sell-out with a waiting list for tickets. It’s a brilliant networking occasion and it shines a light on individuals and employers who excel in their fields.

This year’s winners and highly commended nominees are no exception.

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Here is the full list of winners:

APPRENTICE OF THE YEAR – sponsored by Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council

Ben Webb-Rushton

Ben Webb-Rushton says his confidence, motivation and professional outlook have soared since he became the first person to do a digital marketing apprenticeship with Aspire Housing. The 20-year-old, from Longton, had felt lost after leaving college with a BTEC in creative media and business, but now he’s taking on major responsibilities. Ben, above, promotes apprenticeships internally and externally through blog interviews, videos and social media,

He also helps to maintain websites, send marketing emails, creates gifts and branded videos, writes blogs and case studies as well as co-ordinating social media content and producing digital marketing materials. Ben was highly commended in the National Apprenticeship Awards regional finals, and now he has scooped the Apprentice of the Year title at this year’s Sentinel Business Awards. Ben’s win means Dean Watson from AEON Engineering and Elena Newbrook from JCB took the highly commended spots.

Twenty two-year-old Dean is currently undertaking a degree apprenticeship at the Newcastle business after joining the company from the RAF. While Elena is studying a chartered management degree apprenticeship at JCB.

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BUSINESS IN THE COMMUNITY – sponsored by Synectics Solutions

And the winner is....Here are the results of the 2020 Sentinel Business AwardsTina and Steve Holdcroft

From sponsoring kits for junior footballers to paying for lunches for pensioners, Holdcroft Heating has been committed to helping its local community for more than three decades. To mark the business’s 30th anniversary owners Tina and Steve Holdcroft decided to raise GBP30,000 in 12 months for five local charities – through everything from a jail break to a gin and beer festival.

The business is firmly committed to apprenticeships, work experience and supporting the community – an ethos that has helped them to scoop the Business in the Community award, against worthy runners-up Parogon Pub Group and Realise Charity. In 2017 Parogon pledged to raise GBP50,000 for the Dougie Mac by the end of 2020 – and achieved that target a year ahead of schedule. Realise Charity has raised more than GBP2 million to support social regeneration, fund disadvantaged learners and help people overcome barriers to employment since its formation in 2009.

And it has continued its support throughout the pandemic, delivering essential food and medicine, calling isolated residents and exercising pets for those who have needed to shield.

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BUSINESS INNOVATION – sponsored by the Staffordshire BIC

And the winner is....Here are the results of the 2020 Sentinel Business AwardsSwanline Paper and Board

Innovation is the lifeblood of Swanline Paper and Board and over the last few years this has been driven by its fibre-based materials: Cygnus Eco Board and Cygnus Excellent Board. These have provided the Stone-based business with dozens of new opportunities, some in new sectors that wouldn’t have been possible previously. These products drove growth in 2018 to 2019 and Swanline is currently working on some even bigger projects for this year which would be game changers.

Swanline was the first UK materials supplier to pledge and successfully remove all single-use plastic products from its range and now its efforts have been rewarded with the Business Innovation Award at the Sentinel Business Awards. Technology solutions specialist HaulTech and Hixon-based Oak Timber Structures scooped runners-up prizes. Newcastle-based HaulTech was shortlisted for its TrakMan add-on which allows fleet operators access to real-time key performance data, and Oak Timber Structures for its interactive technology solution for building garden structures.

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YOUNG BUSINESS PERSON OF THE YEAR – sponsored by My Clever Group

And the winner is....Here are the results of the 2020 Sentinel Business AwardsGarth Richardson founder of National Plant Solutions Ltd.

When Garth Richardson ‘peaked’ in his former job he decided it was time for a new challenge.

The 31-year-old – who has completed two apprenticeships – was working as a manager in the plant industry when he quit to set-up on his own. After taking a 12-month break to travel the world, Garth returned home and bought a van – and by November 2017 he had started National Plant Solutions Ltd from his hometown of Stafford. By the second year his turnover was GBP400,000 and he now has a team of five staff.

Now Garth has been named Young Business Person of the Year in The Sentinel Business Awards. While Kim Mountford, from MODE Architects, and Matt Bowers, from Radwell International have been named runners-up. Thirty-year-old Kim combined her expertise in architecture and construction to set-up her own practice in Wolstanton in 2017.

And multilingual Matt Bowers, aged 29. works as the assistant sales manager at Newcastle parts supplier Radwell, after landing three promotions.

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GROWTH – sponsored by Dains

And the winner is....Here are the results of the 2020 Sentinel Business AwardsThe team at Horton Building Plastics’ Cobridge site

Horton Building Plastics was launched in Cobridge in April 2017 to serve trade and public customers in the windows, doors and conservatories market. In 2018 it opened a new store in Parkhall which is on track to deliver an additional GBP1 million in sales. Horton says the growth has been driven by its expansion, recruitment and a commitment to quality products and service.

The company went on to win the start-up of the year award at the 2019 Sentinel Business awards – and now it has scooped the Growth Award this year. Horton saw off fierce competition from Etruria-based tipper services business Tom Lees Ltd, whose owner – Tom Lees – re-mortgaged his house and scraped together just enough money to buy an old truck to start the business five years ago. Stoke-based mechanical and electrical engineering business JPR Group – which hit revenues of GBP15 million in 2019 – was also a runner up.

HIGH PERFORMING TEAM OF THE YEAR – sponsored by Plinkfizz

And the winner is....Here are the results of the 2020 Sentinel Business AwardsThe team at Stoke Chiro

The 18-strong team of experts at the Basford-based Stoke Chiro clinic regularly undergo training sessions to improve their performance and enhance their service for the 500-plus customers they welcome each week.

The workforce – made up of chiropractors, massage therapists and yoga and pilates instructors – take part in weekly coaching sessions led by the leadership team to identify areas which need improvement. The sessions, which last up to an hour, combine traditional classroom learning with role play and practical work and are focused on a specific theme. Staff work towards a joint aim of provision a world class service to clients – whatever their role in the business.

Now Stoke Chiro has been recognised with the High Performing Team of the Year Award at this year’s Sentinel Business Awards. While Trentham travel agency Blue Bay Travel and Stafford-based software development company Langley Foxall were handed the runners-up prizes.

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INTERNATIONAL TRADE – sponsored by the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire LEP

And the winner is....Here are the results of the 2020 Sentinel Business AwardsDarren Bland, director of CQA International, receives the company’s International Trade award.

Keele-based consultant environmental engineers CQA International turned to overseas markets five years ago. Specialising primarily in containment, geotechnical and environmental engineering solutions, CQA now delivers projects in some of the most remote locations in the world – from gold mines to landfills and everything in between.

Around 60 per cent of CQA’s business now comes from overseas, with an aim to increase that by 10 per cent in the next 12 months as part of plans to break the GBP1 million turnover mark. The company recently designed and built the largest hazardous waste disposal facility in the Middle East as part of the Kuwait Environmental Remediation Project for the United Nations. Now it has been awarded the International Trade Award at The Sentinel Business Awards,

Global industrial parts supplier Radwell International, based in Newcastle, and Tunstall-based pet containment specialist ProtectaPet came in as runners-up.

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START-UP OF THE YEAR – sponsored by KMF Group

And the winner is....Here are the results of the 2020 Sentinel Business AwardsVaLu Construction founders Natalie and Kevin Eckert

Natalie and Kevin Eckert admit they took a risk when they invested their life-savings into the launch of VaLu Construction. Natalie had spent years trying to convince her husband to take the gamble and set-up their own firm, despite Kevin’s reservations over leaving a steady job which was helping to support their family-of-seven. But the pair haven’t looked back and today the Cheadle business has a team of more than 40 workers.

Contracts have included a 28-home affordable housing site and a 57-bedroom retirement village for Stoke-on-Trent City Council, industrial units for the Ministry of Defence and a brickwork project on the Bloor Homes head office. Now VaLu Construction has scooped the Start-up of the Year award at The Sentinel Business Awards. Car leasing deals website Moneyshake.com, based at Keele, and Trentham-based web company Aware Digital – which specialises in e-commerce, custom integration and system upgrades – scooped the runners-up positions.

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SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY – sponsored by Staffordshire University

And the winner is....Here are the results of the 2020 Sentinel Business AwardsThe AEON Engineering team. From left is Laura Sumares, Dean Watson, Cleon Ang, Kimberley Walley and Rob Gabrielczyk.

Based in Newcastle’s former police station, AEON Engineering applies big engineering practices to solve complex problems. The team of just five employees work on ground-breaking science and engineering projects, such as the Square Kilometre Array which will be the world’s largest and most sensitive radio telescope facility.

In the past year AEON have developed a sophisticated environmental sensor array product that has a patent pending in the UK and Europe. After identifying a gap in the market, the firm has also designed a product that will revolutionise the security and performance of atomic clocks. Now AEON has been recognised with the Science and Technology in Business Award at The Sentinel Business Awards.

Just behind AEON was Stafford-based product design, development and engineering business Haughton Design and lawtech firm Teal Legal, set up to years ago, which develops apps to help people moving home.

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TRAINING EXCELLENCE – sponsored by Rydale Roofing

And the winner is....Here are the results of the 2020 Sentinel Business AwardsThe KMF Training Centre

After realising retirement was looming for more than 50 employees, KMF launched an in-house training scheme to prevent it losing the vital skills which are key to the running of the business. The Newcastle company set-up the scheme in 2007 in a bid to up-skill workers and train young apprentices. It invested more than GBP2 million to open the KMF Training Centre at its base at High Carr Business Park – boasting the latest engineering technology.

In 2015, KMF pledged to increase its annual intake of apprentices to 10 and for the first time, introduced the adult apprenticeship scheme for current members of staff who wish to enhance their training or learn new skills.

Now KMF has scooped the Training Excellence Award at this year’s Sentinel Business Awards.

Luxury motorhome retailer Erwin Hymer Centre – Travelworld in Stafford and Smart Fleet Solutions, based in Cold Meece near Stone, scooped the runners-up places.

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ENTREPRENEUR OF THE YEAR – sponsored by SG Fleet

And the winner is....Here are the results of the 2020 Sentinel Business AwardsVictoria Sylvester

Twenty years ago Victoria Sylvester was a nurse working on a ward at the then North Staffs Hospital.
She set up Trentham-based Acacia Training with her mum in 2000 because they wanted to provide courses that genuinely met employer needs.
Over the last two decades she has launched, led and grown the thriving company – which now employs 90 people – all while raising her four children.
Last year, Victoria became the first woman on the board of a multinational corporation, a role which sees her travel to countries across Europe and Asia.
And now she has been named Entrepreneur of the Year in The Sentinel Business Awards.
This is despite strong competition from Natalie Hewitt and Hannah Allen.
Natalie heads-up Cheadle-based Hewitt and Carr Group which has been created following the formation of three standalone firms, while champion swimmer Hannah is using her Team GB experience to inspire others after setting up the Hannah Jones Swim Academy in Parkhall.

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SMALL BUSINESS OF THE YEAR – sponsored by Beswicks Legal

And the winner is....Here are the results of the 2020 Sentinel Business AwardsProsurv Consult directors Richard Berry, Paul Dunning, Daniel Smith and Chris Price

Etruria Valley, Trentham Lakes and Trentham Gardens are among the sites worked on by project management and construction consultancy Prosurv Consult since it was set up 15 years ago.The Etruria business also has projects across the UK including at New Covent Garden Market in London, Swansea University and Friargate in Coventry.
After initially working solely in the private sector Prosurv is now applying its skills to the public sector including lending its expertise to future city council projects.
The team of 35 are also committed to partnering with schools and colleges to encourage young people to consider a career in the industry.
Now the company has scooped the Small Business of the Year title at The Sentinel Business Awards, beating Midway Manufacturing and Terry Foods.
Longton-based Midway celebrated a milestone 30 years in business in 2019 and has recently added eight new staff to its now 34-strong workforce.
Terry Foods, which operates from offices at Tunstall’s Genesis Centre, was set up in 2005 by father-and-son team John and Matt Gardiner, specialising in sourcing and supplying food ingredients to customers around the world.

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BUSINESS OF THE YEAR – sponsored by Autonet

And the winner is....Here are the results of the 2020 Sentinel Business AwardsSgfleet chairman Sir Trevor Chinn, with CEO Robbie Blau and managing director Pete Davenport outside the new offices.

The consolidation of three successful businesses in the last three years has seen SG Fleet become the biggest contract hire and leasing company in the UK.
The company – which first started operating in Britain in 2007 – has significantly expanded its presence in the UK after acquiring Midlands car leasing firm Fleet Hire and Longton-based Motiva in 2016.
Today the business – which specialises in fleet management and leasing – manages a fleet of more 15,000 vehicles in the UK, including cars, vans and HGVs, for a growing portfolio of well-known clients which includes DPD, Steelite International, FUCHS Lubricants, Dee Set Logistics and Ornua Foods.
It employs almost 100 people in the UK – including 35 at its Stoke-on-Trent facility in Sandyford.
Now SG Fleet has been named Business of the Year at this year’s Sentinel Business Awards.
The runners up were Newcastle-based industrial parts supplier Radwell International and automotive supply business Klarius, based in Cheadle.
Radwell works with major international companies including Pepsi Co and Coca Cola and, over the past 12-months, has successfully implemented a company-wide ERP system to streamline its processes and make it more efficient.
Klarius specialises in the production and supply of exhausts, catalytic converters and diesel particulate filters for the automotive industry in the UK and Europe.
The business also manufactures and distributes a wide range of products from production machinery to garage tools and aerosols.
Over the last decade Klarius has heavily invested in its facilities and personnel in an effort to improve the manufacturing efficiency of the business.
The company has a strong track record for training within the industry, including gaining motor industry accreditation for its garage technician courses.

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LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD – sponsored by Stoke-on-Trent City Council

And the winner is....Here are the results of the 2020 Sentinel Business AwardsJohn Marson has scooped the Lifetime Achievement Award

This year’s Lifetime Achievement Award goes to the man behind one of North Staffordshire’s best-known car dealerships.BS Marson & Sons is a family-run business and was one of the first Fiat locations to be established in the UK.
The business, which is based in Newcastle, has existed for more than 60 years with some of the team members at the dealership being third-generation family members.
John Marson joined the company – which is father Stanley set-up with his brother Jervis in 1952 – when he was just 15 years old in 1959, along with his brother Peter and sister Ann.
Today he is the managing director and chairman of the Keele Road dealership, which boasts more than 50 staff and always has available in excess of 200 quality used cars.
He has had a lifelong interest in cars and has spent more than half-a-century in the motor trade.
John’s wife Yvonne and son Andrew are also directors in the business.

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