A fourth generation family firm which manufactures kitchen components was named Aycliffe Business Park’s Company of the Year during an evening of celebration.
PWS picked up the top accolade at Aycliffe Business Park Community’s Make Your Mark event, held at the Xcel Centre with more than 250 people in attendance.
The award was presented by John Finley, managing director of steel firm Finley Structures, which won the same recognition last year and sponsored it this time around.
PWS, which employs 300 people across its sites on Aycliffe Business Park, is a market leader in the design and supply of quality kitchen components and worksurfaces to manufacturers, retailers and installers.
While product development and innovation continues to be the driving force behind the business, PWS also prides itself on being a good corporate citizen, engaging with the local community, which was demonstrated in their partnership with Help for Heroes when the company and its staff raised a record-breaking £314,000 for the charity in 2016.
PWS managing director John Lennon said: “We are delighted to be crowned overall Company of the Year.
“It’s a great honour to be recognised for our manufacturing expertise, contribution to the local economy, and our commitment to investment, not forgetting the incredible efforts of our staff who helped to raise £314,000 for Phoenix House, the Help For Heroes Recovery Centre at Catterick Garrison.”
Meanwhile, Hitachi Rail won the Apprenticeships award, which was sponsored by Gestamp Tallent. Hitachi has created hundreds of new jobs in Aycliffe, including more than 50 apprenticeships already.
Arlington Automotive was crowned winners of the Employer of the Year award, which was sponsored by NBSL. Having obtained the Investors in People accreditation, Arlington Automotive also works with Job Centre Plus to provide work experience opportunities for people with barriers to work and assist in developing skills that are transferable to other businesses.
Premo Fabrications won the Engineering & Manufacturing award, which was sponsored by Business Durham. Formed in 2009 with nine employees, Preo now has more than 50 staff and since year one have increased turnover by over 150%.
Stiller Warehousing & Distribution was handed the Innovation award, which was sponsored by Endeavour Partnership, after the family-run firm launched an innovative scheme to encourage people to take up a career in HGV driving with its own in-house ‘earn while you learn’ scheme.
Primex Plastics won the Export award, which was sponsored by the Department for International Trade. Primex currently exports to 10 EU countries and two others around the world, while its production has more than doubled in the last six years.
Fourth generation family business Beaumont Grounds Maintenance picked up the Small Business of the Year award, which was sponsored by the Xcel Centre. Beaumont’s team has grown over the last year and the firm prides itself on family values that remain at the heart of the company.
Trident Manor, which provides risk management consultancy services to a wide range of local, regional, national and international clients, won the Service Business of the Year award, which was sponsored by South Durham Enterprise Agency. Trident has helped businesses save more than £100,000 in security costs, while its international activities have covered Kazakhstan, Cyprus, Russia, Croatia and the USA.
UTC South Durham picked up the Newcomer award, which was sponsored by Ebac. The UTC opened in September 2016 with an intake of 160 students from years 10 and 12 and is set to double its current team.
Ben Thubron of Baltic Training Services won the Apprentice of the Year award, which was sponsored by Crafter’s Companion. Ben joined Baltic in 2015 as an IT support apprentice, and having successfully completed level 3 qualification, has now been accepted onto his level 4 apprenticeship.
Finally, charity DISC won the Heart of the Community award, which was sponsored by Star Radio. DISC is one of the North-East’s most successful home grown organisations, having spent more than 30 years committed to reducing deprivation and exclusion, and improving people’s wellbeing.
The third annual Make Your Mark awards event was the first to be organised by the new Aycliffe Business Park Community board of directors, and was the first to sell out.
Chair Kerina Clark said: “We’re absolutely delighted with this year’s event – it was another spectacular evening of celebration, which not just singled out the individual winners, but also the dozens of companies which were shortlisted.
“All of the businesses involved this year deserve huge praise for the achievements they’ve made, and all we would say is if you didn’t win, try again next year!”
• Pictured (above): John Finley, managing director of steel firm Finley Structures, presented the Company of the Year award to PWS head of manufacturing Jeremy Redshaw, press officer Jill Lundberg and worksurfaces manufacturing manager Michael Catmull.