The very best of Hull and East Yorkshire business was celebrated on Thursday night as winners of the 2019 Mail Business Awards were crowned.
The awards, held at the city’s DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel, saw more than 500 of the region’s biggest names come together to recognise the outstanding success of Hull’s business community.
Trophies were presented to businesses of all shapes and sizes, from start-up firms which have provided a glimpse into the future, to established big-hitters who between them employ thousands of people.
Neil Hodgkinson, editor in chief at the Hull Daily Mail, said: “This is the biggest event of its kind in the region, and tonight is the biggest audience we have ever had with more than 500 in the room.
“We are very proud of that and the chance to showcase the depth and variety of entrants and excellence that exists across our business community.
“We believe in this night because we feel it is only right that the talent, determination and sheer brilliance shown by those who enter should be recognised.
“It has continued to be a difficult backdrop for business this year as our political representatives demonstrated how out of touch they were with real life in failing to solve the Brexit conundrum.
“Yet another eventful year shows how you all just got on with it and flourished.”
Big winners at the 2019 awards included global health giant RB, which picked up International Business of the Year, broadband provider KCOM, which won the Innovation & Technology gong for its £85m Lightstream rollout, and modular builder Integra, which scooped Large Business of the Year.
Individual talent was also recognised on the night, as Sure Group founder Charles Draper collected Young Entrepreneur of the Year, and Cobus Communications’ James Gemmell won Employee of the Year.
The night culminated with the presentation of the 2019 Lifetime Contribution Award.
This year, the prestigious accolade went to Andrew Horncastle.
The Horncastle Group owner has played a significant and lasting role in the region’s business community, from inspiring the next generation of entrepreneurs, to mentoring current company leaders.
David Kilburn, co-founder at MKM, said: “What is remarkable about Andrew’s achievement is he is a humble individual, but contributes a significant amount to the community both charitably and from a business sense.
“If it wasn’t for the likes of people like Andrew, the local economy would not be as strong and robust as it is.”
The 2019 awards were hosted by BBC’s Louise Minchin, with a keynote speech given by Coffee Republic founder and entrepreneur Sahar Hashemi.
The full list of winners is below:
Training and Development
Hull & East Yorkshire NHS Foundation Trust
With 9,000 staff members, the trust is the region’s biggest employer.
In 2014, the trust was among the worst performing in the country for its staff survey results. Since then however, the trust has undergone a continued programme of staff training, and is now one of the most improved.
Learning and development days have been held with all trust managers – 700 nurses, doctors and non-clinical staff – to help medical teams identify and carry out improvements to their own work.
The intensive training programme has benefited patients through significant reductions to their length of stay in hospital, as well as a different approach to nursing patients in A&E.
A 10-day training course has been devised in partnership with Hull-based provider T2 and Go Mad training in Loughborough.
The training has been delivered from the top-down, with managers and ground-level staff alike completing the course. It has been a seismic change in development over the past five years.
International Business Award
It has been almost 180 years since Reckitt’s was founded in Hull. Today, the company is RB.
With brands including Nurofen, Strepsil, Lemsip, Gaviscon and Durex, RB has grown to become a global health and hygiene name.
RB has invested £200m in its Hull site in recent years, with research & development teams for seven of its biggest brands being based in the city.
Many of RB’s products are made in Hull, before being shipped around the world. Today listed as a FTSE top 20 company, Hull-based RB sells products to consumers in over 200 countries, and has operations in around 60 of those.
The manufacturing facility in Hull produces around 300 million consumer units every year, and from humble beginnings, the factory in Dansom Lane now exports goods to countries in every continent.
RB’s single biggest investment has been made right here in Hull, with its £105m R&D centre set to be unveiled very soon.
Innovation & Technology
KCOM this year completed the £85m, seven-year-long rollout of its Lightstream full-fibre broadband.
Overcoming many hurdles and obstacles along the way, the ambitious project has given Hull and East Yorkshire the fastest and most reliable broadband connectivity in the world.
More than 200,000 homes and businesses now have access to Lightstream, which offer speeds of up to 900Mbps.
The decision to roll-out Lightstream back in 2012 was very much a “leap of faith” for KCOM, and its completion marked a significant milestone in the business’ history.
A recent study commissioned by KCOM, led by the Innovation Observatory, found that Lightstream broadband has added £469m of value to the region’s economy since 2012.
It means for every £1 KCOM invested in the rollout, the economy has benefited by £5.50.
It’s been a busy 2019 for KCOM, in a year which has also seen the company bought by Australian investment firm Macquarie in a deal worth £627m.
The North Cave-based firm is a family-owned business which specialises in the recycling of used edible oils and fatty food waste.
It converts the waste into feedstock which is used for biofuel and renewable energy. In 1996 – just nine years after its launch – Brocklesby had outgrown its Hull-based site, and moved to a new 10-acre facility in East Yorkshire.
Today, the company employs almost 50 local people and has a turnover of £16.8m.
In 2017, Brocklesby invested £14m in a new anaerobic digestion plant. The plant converts food waste into green energy, capable of powering 11,000 homes.
It also allows Brocklesby to run all of its own site and operations using renewable power. Processing up to 60,000 tonnes of food waste every year, Brocklesby’s bio gas facility supplies 3.5MW of electricity to the national grid.
Looking ahead, the firm plans to continue its green innovation, finding solutions to turn waste into energy to power homes.
The business provides budget planning, payroll and HR software to the education sector.
The company’s software, BPS, has been rolled out in schools across the country. Working with 4,000 schools and academies means Orovia must provide exceptional customer service and support, with the majority of its staff working on the front line with clients.
Orovia has grown to a 30-person team over the past decade, and offers free additional support and advice to all customers who have purchased its software.
The majority of support phone calls are resolved within minutes, and workers offer screen-sharing services to fix issues swiftly.
Customer retention rate at Orovia has never dipped below 95 per cent, and is testament to the company’s focus to clients.
Senior members of Orovia hold regular meetings with larger clients including councils and multi-academy trusts, to tailor the service they receive and ensure it is right for them.
Small Business of the Year
Pure Renewables specialises in the design, specification, supply and installation of low-carbon heating solutions such as ground and air source heat pumps and solar thermal and solar photovoltaic.
Established in 2007 by Chris Whitelock, the company now employs 14 full-time members of staff, and operates nationwide.
Pure Renewables weathered the storm of the 2008-2010 recession, and is currently in the second year of a five-year plan to transform it from a domestic-focused business to delivering high-value commercial work.
In an era where cutting carbon emissions is at the forefront of peoples’ minds, Pure Renewables is well placed for future growth.
Its commercial team is now tendering for projects worth as much as £600,000.
Pure Renewables’ own offices in Hull is fitted out with a heat pump system and solar PV on the roof, and uses only recycled paper.
The company has also invested in an electric vehicle, as it strives to practice what it preaches.
Medium Business of the Year
Giacom’s Cloud Market has transformed the way IT companies buy and manage services.
The company now delivers more than double the services to double the IT firms as it did just a few years.
Turnover at Giacom has increased by over £28m in the last four years, and in the very first year of trading the business achieved a staggering 251 per cent growth.
Giacom, however, is not standing still. It is constantly expanding its product portfolio, and looks to fill software gaps not available elsewhere.
The next new-release product – ‘Cloud Server’ – is a cloud-based alternative to a physical piece of hardware, and is expected to be launched in October.
Giacom has also developed an in-house team of Azure experts, to guide customers through the next phase of their cloud journey.
Since launching in 1999, Giacom has grown to employ 72 people, and is one of Hull’s fastest-growing businesses.
Large Business of the Year
Founded by managing director Gary Parker and a handful of colleagues in 1997, modular builder Integra weathered the recession and has grown rapidly since.
Turnover hit £25m in 2018 and is forecast to reach £30m in 2019.
Over the last year, Integra has completed a £3m growth strategy which included consolidating its two sites into one, purpose-built facility in Paull, Holderness.
In April this year, Integra was chosen as one of just 24 contractors for the government’s pioneering Modular Building Framework – a scheme to supply modular structures to public sector organisations.
Integra is at the forefront of a rapidly-expanding modular sector, and is delivering a greater volume and variety of projects than ever before.
At least 10 new jobs will be created in the next year, on top of 22 in the last year, and Integra is forecasting 30 per cent revenue growth in 2020.
Employee of the Year
James started out at Cobus Communications in April, tasked with generating new revenue streams, managing accounts and upselling to current customers at the business.
James made an immediate impact, and one of his first major successes was an order worth £73,000 for a range of telephone, CCTV and internet connectivity.
Despite the customer having been a long-term client of Cobus, James was up against tough competition from rivals for the contract, but came out triumphant in the process.
In the last five months, James has generated almost £200,000 of new revenue for Cobus – a figure which outweighs what anyone else in Cobus’ history has ever achieved in such a short space of time.
James has been described his Cobus’ sales and marketing manager as “a breath of fresh air to the sales team,” as well as “a great asset” to the company.
Entrepreneur of the Year
James launched Hull Serviced Apartments in 2015, when he spotted a gap in the city’s property market for high-quality accommodation for visitors.
Born and educated in Hull, James spent several years working as a city trader in London, before he relocated to Beijing and developed an interest in buying and renovating buildings.
Eventually, James returned to Hull and has applied his expertise to a string of high-profile landmarks in the city.
HSA was the driving force behind the renovation of Hull’s 19 century Winding House on Victoria Dock, the former James Reckitt Library in Holderness Road, and the former Endsleigh Centre convent in Beverley Road.
The latter was James’ most ambitious project to date, and was the largest residential development to be completed in Hull this year.
James’ company has so far invested over £10m regenerating properties across Hull. He sees opportunities others would not touch, and transforms them into luxury accommodation.
Young Entrepreneur of the Year
Charles Draper has transformed his business idea into a national success story.
At the age of just 27, he is the founder and managing director at Sure Group, a multi-disciplined company which provides businesses with a one-stop solution for their recruitment, logistics and healthcare requirements.
What started out as a way of making some money while studying at university, has now become a £5m turnover business.
The company started with an office on Hessle Road, and now also has bases in Knottingley, Wakefield, Manchester, Northampton and London.
Despite the success, Charles still has a hunger and drive to further grow Sure Group. The entrepreneur also owns a commercial property portfolio which generates a 20 per cent return per year on over £1m worth of premises.
Outside of work, Charles finds time to speak at events and conferences, and share his business story with aspiring entrepreneurs.
Start-Up Business of the Year
Frontier Modular Services
After 13 years working in the modular building sector, Richard Pooley took a major leap of faith in December 2017 and launched Frontier Modular Services.
The business started out with just one operative working alongside Richard, but today Frontier employs 12 site crew and two more office-based employees.
Working nationwide on major developments with some of the biggest contractors in the country, Frontier Modular Services has gone from a standing start to become one of the most sought-after modular installation companies around.
Profit and turnover has grown way beyond the norm for a start-up company, and Frontier today works with big hitters including Eco Modular, Premier Modular, PortaKabin and Phoenix Building Systems.
Looking ahead, Frontier hopes to further increase its workforce in the years to come, in a move which would allow the company to take on new contracts.
Frontier’s organic growth has provided the perfect foundations for success.
Apprentice of the Year
Matt started his apprenticeship at BAE Systems as a technical apprentice in September 2016 on a four-year scheme.
He first spent over 40 weeks at BAE’s Academy of Skills and Knowledge in Lancashire, learning all the basic skills of building an aircraft.
Now into his fourth year at BAE, Matt takes great pride in all of his work, and completes of all his jobs to the highest professional standard.
Outside of his usual role, Matt also signed up to become a STEM Education Ambassador at BAE, working tirelessly to promote the subjects in schools and colleges and encourage young people to take up apprenticeships at the company.
Matt has been described as “a true ambassador” for BAE, and also takes time out to inspire the next generation of young engineers.
He has proved to be a real asset for the aerospace giant.
Tourism & Hospitality
Since Van Morrison officially opened the 3,500-capacity venue in August 2018, Hull’s Bonus Arena has played host to 100 events and performances.
The likes of Olly Murs, George Ezra, Madness, Catfish and the Bottlemen and Stereophonics have all graced the stage to a packed out audience.
Around 200,000 people either bought a ticket or visited the arena in the first 12 months of its launch, putting Hull firmly on the entertainment map like never before.
Outside of the music sector, the Bonus Arena has also provided a world-class conference and exhibition space. Turner Price’s XL Food and Drink Show, the REYTA awards and Tech Expo Humber have all been successfully held at the venue, and received overwhelming feedback from those who attended.
Figures provided by Hull City Council suggested the Bonus Arena has added £4m of value to the city since its launch last year, and planning permission has also been granted for a brand new hotel a stone’s throw away from the venue, with the potential for more jobs and visitors.
The Bonus Arena has so far reached millions of people, helping put Hull on the map. It has more than 38,000 followers on Facebook, and the marketing team has reached more than 14 million people across social media.
With more global acts lined up to perform at the arena in the coming year, the Bonus Arena has been a true success story for Hull.
Contribution to the East Riding
BAE is one of the world’s biggest defence companies, with approximately 83,400 employees spread across the globe.
Established in 1916 by founder Robert Blackburn in Brough, BAE is today one of the largest private sector employers in the East Riding, with around 750 staff.
BAE takes its responsibilities within the local community very seriously. The company’s work includes employee fundraising and volunteering, careers work with local schools and colleges, sponsorship of events and donations to organisations and charities.
Employees at BAE in Brough have raised £30,000 over the last three years for charities, and have delivered almost 500 voluntary hours.
The site has been raising funds for charity Hull 4 Heroes since 2016, and has so far provided £19,000 of support to the group.
BAE regularly reaches out to schools to run activities with children across the East Riding, to promote work experience and career opportunities with the company.
In addition, BAE runs a ‘Take a Teenager to Work Day,’ which allows employees to bring a son or daughter to work with them to gain an insight into the work which goes on behind the factory walls every day.
A great number of individuals and organisations within the East Riding benefit from BAE’s activities and programmes, and the company is focused on continuing its community programme for years to come.
Andrew Horncastle MBE
It’s hard to know where to start when it comes to Andrew Horncastle.
From heading up family business Horncastle Group and promoting young entrepreneurs across the region, to playing a leading role in the formation of the Humber LEP, Andrew’s name is one which carries a lot of respect.
Since Andrew joined Horncastle Group, he was overseen its growth from a £3m company into a £50m venture, building a workforce of over 600 people.
A passionate Yorkshireman, Andrew has worked tirelessly over the years to both promote and support the Humber.
He has a wide range of experience including business development and problem solving at all levels. He can also deal with turnarounds, business rescues and difficult business situations.
An advocate of young people, Andrew is a driving force in the organisation ‘For Entrepreneurs Only’ – a group of prominent business people in the region who give their time and expertise to help budding entrepreneurs.
Outside of the world of business, Andrew has since 2010 been a trustee of the Daisy Appeal, a medical research charity based in East Yorkshire, and has put an enormous amount of time and effort in helping the charity achieve its aims.
He is also actively involved in the charity CatZero and is a Prince’s Trust North local ambassador for both the public and private sector teams.
Andrew’s status and dedication to the Humber’s business sector saw him named in this year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours List. He will collect his MBE next week.
His accolade – for services to charity and business in the community of East Yorkshire – gives you some indication at least as to the prominence and respect Andrew holds.
How to contact Phil Winter and Business Live
Business Live’s Hull & East Yorkshire journalist is Phil Winter, also the business editor at the Hull Daily Mail and Hull Live.
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