Hadley Group walks away with Large Exporter prize at Masters Awards

SMETHWICK-based steel products manufacturer Hadley Group won the Large Exporter category at last night’s TheBusinessDesk.com West Midlands Business Masters Awards 2014 at Edgbaston Stadium.

It saw off competition from Bridgnorth Aluminium and Grainger and Worrall to win the award which is open to regional exporting businesses with a £25m+ annual turnover.

The cold rollforming manufacturer – headed by Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership chairman Stewart Towe, CBE – has set up manufacturing bases in Germany, Thailand and Dubai to supplement its domestic offering.

With a turnover approaching £100m, the company is now targeting the US, Canadian and South American markets and works with industries worldwide in sectors as diverse as construction in Thailand and winemaking in France.

Hadley was also shortlisted in the Large Manufacturer category but was beaten by Coventry-based automotive sector manufacturer Brose UK, which is on a rapid growth trajectory.

Between April last year and March 2014 the firm, a component supplier to automotive businesses such as Jaguar Land Rover, added more than £35m of annual sales to its turnover, increased its workforce by 50% and invested more than £15m in new machinery and a second site.

More than 200 people attended last night’s gala awards evening hosted by BBC news reporter Sarah Falkland.

They saw Birmingham’s Mereway Kitchens win the SME Manufacturer award and Coventry’s Ultraseal pick up the SME Exporter prize.

Mereway Kitchens re-assessed its entire operation during the recession and introduced a three point plan which included staff development, effective use of machinery and assistance to retailers.

The company is now growing quickly and has an annual turnover of £22m.
It has now launched Mereway Bedrooms to sit alongside its kitchen manufacturing operation.

Ultraseal International designs and manufactures vacuum impregnation equipment and porosity sealants, predominantly for the automotive industry.

Exports now account for 98% of the company’s turnover and it sells into more than 35 of the 50 countries in the world which are deemed to be major motor manufacturing centres.

The Newcomer award, open to companies which are less than three years old, was won by SimkissGuy Recruitment while the Innovator category was won by Sign Solutions.

The Birmingham recruiter has made a name for itself in a short period of time with a “no sales, just outstanding service” proposition.

It offers a 12 week, 100% guarantee in the event of something going wrong in relation to a member of staff they have placed with a company.

Alvechurch-based Sign Solutions is a sign language and interpreting company.

The company has developed and launched a service called Interpreters Live! which allows interpreters to be accessed on demand via computer.

Aston Villa FC won the Pride category, which rewards the most meaningful philanthropic initiative by a business or individual.

Villa run an allotment project less than a mile from its ground. It enables 80 young people, including a targeted core group of at risk youths, to help provide produce for its VMF restaurant and local suppliers.

The Listed Business category – rewarding excellent performance from a local plc – was won by Solihull-based financial services firm Paragon Group. With staff number of 850+ and pre-tax profit of £105m, the FTSE-350 firm is growing rapidly.

It has now developed a strategy to become a ‘challenger bank’ and has launched a banking subsidiary Paragon Bank.

In the Fast Growth Business category – rewarding outstanding growth over the last 12 months from a West Midlands business – it was an all Coventry shortlist with Key Forensic Services proving to be the winner.

The company supplies forensic services to public and private sector clients at home and abroad.

It has experienced strong sales growth in recent years and is also predicting a doubling of turnover from 2012 to 2014 – from £6.5m to an anticipated £13.7m.

The business now employs 250 people and is investing heavily in delivering technological innovation.

Coming out on top in the the Apprentice Scheme category was Wednesbury’s Alucast, which was formed in the late 1960s and is a sand, gravity and pressure casting manufacturer.

It recently embarked on the largest training programme in its history which will involve up-skilling the majority of its 90-strong workforce.

The firm also appeared in the shortlist for the Employer of the Year category of the awards but was beaten to the prize by Birmingham-based property sector business Rider Levett Bucknall.

It has achieved Investors in People Gold Accreditation, which puts in the top 1% of all IIP accredited companies, and the firm says it puts respect for its people at the core of everything it does.

Reflecting on the Masters Awards, TheBusinessDesk.com editor Andy Coyne said: “We had great shortlists this year and from those came great winners.

“It was a fabulous night with a terrific audience who really got into the spirit of things.

“Once again there were some fascinating business tales to tell and the Masters gives the companies involved the chance to tell us their stories.

“Well done to all the winners and shortlisted firms.”

This year’s Business Masters Awards were sponsored by Sertec, Bloomer Heaven, Birmingham Airport, Higgs & Sons and Innovation Birmingham Climate KIC Project.