The first recipients of the Royal Tunbridge Wells Business Awards fought off stiff competition to claim their titles and here we salute them all…
Service Excellence Award | Sponsored by Rent Locally
Category description: The winner of this category will give outstanding assistance and advice to those who buy or use the business or organisation’s products or services. They will be able to provide customer testimonials to support their entry.
Name of winning business: First Office Systems
Location: 14-16a Albion Road, Tunbridge Wells, TN1 2NH
What the judges said: “First Office Systems are dedicated to providing the customer with the highest quality service. Their commitment has led them to developing new methods to monitor customer satisfaction, ensuring they have the flexibility to adapt to changes in demand and service expectations.”
Company description: Methodical dedication to customer service is what First Office Systems excels in. The company, which provides clients with office services and technology, was founded in 1991 with the ethos that by providing high quality service, trust and growth success will follow. To this end the firm introduced a bespoke computerised service management system to ensure everything is logged and reported, especially response times. They also make sure they are regularly up to date with what their customers want, having carried out 1,500 surveys to gauge client satisfaction over the past ten years.
Family Business of the Year | Sponsored by Thomson Snell & Passmore
Category description: These family firms are ones based locally that were set up over a year ago. They have displayed real financial success in relation to growth in turnover and profit.
Name of winning business: Fuller’s Butchers and Farm Shop
Location: Bunny Lane, Eridge, Tunbridge Wells, Kent, TN3 9BY and 5 Nelson Road, Tunbridge Wells,
Kent TN2 5AW
What the judges said: “This well-established family business has been servicing the Tunbridge Wells community for over 44 years with locally-sourced meats from local farmers whom the family have known and trusted for years.”
Company description: This company has been running since 1972, providing Tunbridge Wells with locally-sourced meats and produce from farmers, bakers, brewers and wineries, and was opened by the late Tony Fuller and his wife Margaret. After Tony sadly passed away, Margaret took on the job of running the butchers by herself while their 13-year-old son Stephen undertook an apprenticeship. Stephen now runs the company with his wife June and has help from his sister Sarah, brother-in-law Russell and even his own children – teenage daughter Lily, 16, and son Henry, 13.
Green Company of the Year | Sponsored by Global Office
Category description: Being a green business can embrace many aspects of sustainability, including being environmentally-friendly in its business approach to changes that have been made by the company to become more sustainable, saving CO2 emissions, reusing, recycling and even saving money.
Name of winning business: Mastercolour (part of the Fox Print Services Group)
Location: Unit 2C Wyvern House, Longfield Road, Tunbridge Wells, Kent TN2 3EY
What the judges said: “Investing in cutting-edge technology has been a key driver to their business growth. They have a diverse and impressive client list and are certainly an environmentally-conscious organisation, gaining numerous accreditations.”
Company description: In the past, one of the major by-products of the print industry has been landfill waste. However, Fox Print Services is just one of 63 UK businesses to be EMAS (Eco-Management and Audit Scheme) verified, after reducing its waste to landfill by 91 per cent. It has also consistently seen year-on-year reductions in energy and water use. It has an extensive list of products which it ensures are recycled, including paper, ink, printing plates, pallets, cardboard and much more. As a result, the company is a trusted supplier to organisations such as Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth.
Creative Business of the Year | Sponsored by Fox Marketing Services
Category description: This award category is for any company over two years old in any sector that can demonstrate creativity as adding value to their business’s success.
Name of winning business: Larrytech
Location: Larrytech Ltd, Calverley House, 55 Calverley Road, Tunbridge Wells, TN1 2TU www.larrytech.com
What the judges said: “Their technical knowledge and customer service, coupled with creativity, has resulted in business growth over the past 12 months.”
Company description: Web design firm Larrytech consists of a dynamic team of 13 employees based in Tunbridge Wells. Set up in 2001 and co-owned by Larry Hardcastle, Doug Rubashow and James Blacklee, the company has recently developed a new website for The Skinners’ School, the sixth one they have made for them over the years, displaying the close relationship they have with their clients. Of the company’s success, Mr Hardcastle said: “We have always prided ourselves on being at the cutting edge of web technology, providing outstanding solutions and unrivalled levels of customer service.”
Corporate Social Responsibility | Sponsored by McMillian Williams Solicitors
Category description: This award is for organisations which have done the most to develop their social responsibility programme, and will be judged primarily on activities undertaken in 2014/2015, although projects started before then and those ongoing were taken into account.
Name of winning business: AXA PPP
Location: International House, Tunbridge Wells www.axappphealthcare.co.uk
What the judges said: “With a high proportion of their employees brought up in the town, AXA have excelled in giving back to the community through their various initiatives, which have made a substantial contribution to Tunbridge Wells.”
Company description: The largest private employer in Tunbridge Wells, with over 2,000 staff, the company describes its ethos as ‘giving local support’ and ‘developing long-lasting partnerships’ with charities, schools and other community organisations. To date, the company has partnered with around 60 charities in the area and has put investment into 40 schools. Last year the insurance giant raised just under £100,000 for charity, and through their Hearts in Action programme have seen more than half of their staff volunteer in the local community. The company also offers a work experience programme which has hosted 365 students aged 14 to 19 since it began in 2012.
Young Business Person of the Year | Sponsored by Russell Fewin Commercial Facilities Solutions
Category description: The Young Business Person of the Year Award recognises dynamic individuals aged 30 or under running a business. They will be able to demonstrate great success and drive in growing their company.
Name of winning individual: Jenny Kitchen, Yoyo Design
Location: 90 Calverley Road, Tunbridge Wells, Kent. TN1 2UN yoyodesign.com
What the judges said: “Yoyo is one of the top five boutique creative agencies in the UK. They deliver world-class solutions for ambitious brands, whilst building long-lasting relationships. Jenny Kitchen has achieved this for the company by leading a highly motivated team with the philosophy ‘deliver quality, be successful, be happy.’”
Company description: Jenny Kitchen has led multi-award-winning digital agency Yoyo Design since 2011. As one of the top five boutique creative agencies in the UK, Jenny’s company has a staff count of 17. In 2014/2015, Yoyo Design saw an annual turnover of £736,094. Her biggest projects have been overseeing visual merchandising guides for M&S and leading the digital agency for RNLI. After working in marketing for six years, Jenny explained her motivations to start Yoyo Design were: “To create something that was focused on delivering world-class solutions, building a place where people loved coming to work, being successful and being happy.”
Entrepreneur of the Year | Sponsored by Infinity Group
Category description: An entrepreneur is more than a business person. Entrepreneurs turn their ideas into opportunities and may run one or more businesses. These people are innovative and have turned their big ideas into successful ventures.
Name of winning individual: Deborah Richards, Maddisons Residential
Location: Royal Victoria House 51-55 The Pantiles Tunbridge Wells Kent TN2 5TE
What the judges said: “Deborah Richards has shown real entrepreneurial skill since founding Maddisons Residential three years ago. Using her extensive experience in the private banking industry and her flair for renovation, she has succeeded in setting up a fast-growing firm.”
Company description: Established by former Coutts employee Deborah Richards three years ago, Maddisons has 95 per cent of its new customers come through current client referrals. In addition, the estate agency has a fall-through rate of just four per cent – ten times less than the industry average. These achievements come despite Ms Richards having no previous experience of running her own business. The company now employs five members of staff with a view to moving into the world of lettings and into bigger premises, while always improving the residential sales experience.
New Business of the Year | Sponsored by Ansacom
Category description: This category is for those businesses which were founded in the last two years with a bang (start date after January 1, 2014) and are really getting noticed for what they do.
Name of winning business: Monita Cheung Design
Location: Tunbridge Wells www.monitacheung.com
What the judges said: “This company has seen impressive growth through researching the market in order to identify customers and locations for the maximum return. In a very short period of time Monita Cheung Design has gone from start-up to a viable and financially sustainable business.”
Company description: Interior design company Monita Cheung Design is pioneered by young entrepreneur Monita Cheung and has been growing rapidly since she started it in 2014. Working by herself from her design studio at home, Monita has produced a well-established interior design service with an annual turnover in 2014/2015 of £75,380. Along the way she has won the KBB Young Designer Award for Bathrooms and has been a finalist for other prestigious bathroom design awards. Offering a professional design and supply service for bathrooms, kitchens and interiors, Monita strives to achieve the very best design to suit her clients’ individual needs.
Outstanding Business of the Year | Sponsored by Parfitt Cresswell Solicitors
Category description: This is the ultimate award of all the categories and will go to the business that can show outstanding initiative, boldness and imagination in their enterprise, as well as sound management practices. The winner will be able to show they have a clear strategy to invest in the skills of their staff and will be expected to demonstrate sustainable growth combined with a degree of commercial success that is exceptional for the size of the business.
Name of winning business: Childrensalon
Location: 9 High St, Royal Tunbridge Wells, Tunbridge Wells TN1 1UL www.childrensalon.com
What the judges said: “This highly successful company has consistently demonstrated why it deserves to win this category. Its strong growth rate, sound finances and international reach have helped put Tunbridge Wells on the map as a place to do business.”
Company description: This long-established British Heritage brand is now the world’s premier online destination for luxury children’s fashion. Established in 1952 and online since 1999, the family-run business has received many accolades in recent years for both the quality of its service and the strength of its finances. With profits of £14million estimated for 2016, an increase of almost £4million on the previous year, the firm has been widely recognised as one of the fastest-growing companies in the UK. With sales surging over 700 per cent since 2011, and plans to more than double the workforce within the next two years to 450 employees, this company is one to watch.
Business Hero of the Year | Sponsored by Easistore
Category description: Nominees for this award have gone the extra mile in their job to achieve something amazing, or overcome adversity in their professional life while at the same time continuing to deliver an excellent service. These people are ambassadors for the borough of Tunbridge Wells and a role model for their colleagues.
Name of winning individual: Paul Chapman, Signal UK
Location: Southwood Road, Rusthall, Tunbridge Wells, Kent TN4 8SN
What the judges said: “Signal UK have gone above and beyond in the way they have supported Pickering Cancer Drop-In Centre for almost a decade – helping out with fundraising activities and providing numerous products to support the charity.
Company description: For nine years Signal UK has provided The Pickering Cancer Drop-In Centre with their leaflets, posters, T-shirts, sweatshirts, bags, banners, badges and logos cost-free. Run by Paul Chapman and Gary Rose, both of whom have been affected by cancer in the family, this community-minded design-to-print firm has saved Pickering thousands of pounds over the years. Polly Taylor, who runs the centre, said: “If anybody deserves to be nominated as heroes, these guys do. They certainly are Pickering’s hero and have the biggest hearts of anybody I know.”
Readers’ Choice Award | Sponsored by MJ Exhibitions
The Readers’ Choice Award was a little bit different from the rest. We wanted to get Times of Tunbridge Wells readers involved by asking you to nominate a local business or business person who consistently delivers outstanding customer service. Dozens of individuals and local businesses were nominated for the award, reflecting the vibrant business culture and high quality service of Tunbridge Wells.
Name of winning individual: Jez Timms, Torpedo Juice
Location: The Studio, 26 Longmeads, Tunbridge Wells, Kent, TN3 0AX
What the readers said: “Consistently gives over and above what is asked for.”
“Is able to deliver way beyond expectation and not only is creative but gives great business advice.”
“Great old-fashioned values and full of integrity. Highly recommended.”