‘Proud as punch’ – Hertfordshire Business Awards 2016 winners revealed in glamorous ceremony at Knebworth Barns

The winners of the Hertfordshire Business Awards 2016. Photography by Casey Gutteridge.

The winners of the Hertfordshire Business Awards 2016. Photography by Casey Gutteridge. - Credit: CPG Photography Ltd

There were plenty of smiles on display last night as the winners of the Hertfordshire Business Awards 2016 were revealed during a glitzy ceremony at Knebworth Barns.

Knebworth Barns provided the glamorous setting for Hertfordshire Business Awards 2016. Photography b

Knebworth Barns provided the glamorous setting for Hertfordshire Business Awards 2016. Photography by Casey Gutteridge. - Credit: CPG Photography Ltd

The Archant event, which was marking its 20th year, saw 16 awards handed out on the night as more than 400 people from the county’s business community came together to celebrate business excellence.

Guests were treated to a three-course meal and entertainment from classical duo Eden before the awards – in association with KPMG – were announced by host and broadcast journalist Julia Hartley-Brewer.

Companies were competing in an array of categories from New Business of the Year to International Business of the Year, the Supporting Young People Award to the Customer Service Award, with the evening concluding with The Judges’ Award and the KPMG-sponsored Company of the Year – won by Chapman Ventilation from Welwyn Garden City.

Managing director Anthony Chapman, who had earlier picked up the Large Business of the Year alongside colleagues in a category sponsored by biz4Biz, said: “We are honoured and delighted to have been recognised with these awards. Even though my brother and I are fully involved in the business and work every day to make it better, we can only do that because of the fantastic people who work for us and deliver in every area of the business.

“We were recognised by the judges for our commitment to our people and that makes it all worthwhile. We also know that we would not be where are today if it were not for the foundations that were laid down by our parents in starting Chapman Ventilation almost 50 years ago.”

The company’s head of marketing, Chandni Chandarana, added: “Having worked at Chapman Ventilation for the last three years I can honestly say that you’re made to feel like family, not just an employee. The business supports and nourishes all of its staff to be the best that they can and encourages them every step of the way.

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“Chapman Ventilation truly care about its staff and business. Winning not just one, but two awards clearly shows that Ant and David go above and beyond to make their business a happy and successful one.”

St Albans-based PrivateFly were the International Business of the Year, sponsored by Taylor Walton Solicitors, and afterwards co-founder Carol Cork said: “On a personal level I live and work in Hertfordshire, we started the business here and now we have offices in the United States, we employ people from Hertfordshire but also from all over the world who speak 13 different languages and work 24 hours a day.

“So we’re delighted to win this award as an international business but also delighted to be here in Hertfordshire as this is where we started the business, this is where we employ people and it’s a fantastic place to live and work.

“The award recognises that we’re a business that is exporting. International sales are a big part of our company now, 50 per cent, so to be recognised for that is terrific as that’s where the growth of our business is.”

Matt Williams and Justin Yates, behind professional removals service JamVans, jointly won our Young Entrepreneur of the Year award – sponsored by the Galleria.

They said: “The award means a lot. We started the company when we were 18 and it’s great to get recognition for the hard work and effort we’ve put in. When you’re building a business on a daily basis you don’t really think about what you’ve achieved, but when you win something like this you step back and think about what you’ve done.

“Winning this award for our business will help give it credibility. When you’re young you can be up against it trying to convince people and earn their trust, so winning an award like this will help emphasise that, although we’re only young, we can do the job.”

Understanding Recruitment in St Albans was crowned Medium Business of the Year, an award sponsored by Needham House. Co-founder Dale Swords said: “To win means everything. I co-founded the business nine years ago with my fellow director Chris, and as a team we’re absolutely delighted. It’s a massive accolade and makes all the hard work worthwhile – I’m proud as punch.

“The award gives us that platform to kick on and gives our clients and customers the confidence that they’re working with a reliable business that’s going places, that has the right values and who they can trust and build a long relationship with.”

Online Innovator of the Year, sponsored by Asurit, was won by Hemel Hempstead’s People Building.

Director Gemma Bailey said: “On a personal level the award is an acknowledgement that all the hard work has been worth it and it’s finally paid off.

“For the business this really adds credibility to who we are and I think it can act as a mark of trust for future customers. I would absolutely recommend people put in their applications for next year as I had no expectation of winning, but here I am.”

Baldock-based Display Plan took home the Science, Technology and Open Innovation Award, sponsored by Bristol Laboratories. Development and innovations director Leon Turney said: “This is the first year we have entered the Hertfordshire Business Awards, and to be finalists in all three of the categories we entered is no easy feat. We are very proud to be based in the Hertfordshire region, a county so rich in possibilities, with so many strong businesses, and an area which is increasingly becoming a hub of innovation.

“We are pleased to be finalists for Large Business of the Year and International Business of the Year – and we are overjoyed to be crowned winners of the Science, Technology and Open Innovation Award! We constantly strive to find innovative solutions for our clients, and to be recognised for this work in our local area is fantastic.

“I am so proud we won this award! I am amazed by the quality of work our technical team does on a daily basis. This award is truly the icing on the cake, for the whole team, who are pushing the boundaries in innovation each and every day.”

Claire Brindle, managing director of Welwyn Garden City-based Smart10, was announced as the Business Person of the Year.

The award, sponsored by DB Sharp & Sons, is the company’s third – after winning the Judges’ Award in 2012 and New Business of the Year in 2013.

“The award is dedicated to the whole team, we’ve achieved so much over the past five years, and as head of Smart10 I recognise the importance of every individual that makes the company who we are,” said Claire.

Sunnyside Rural Trust was chosen for The Judges’ Award – sponsored by Archant, the publishing company behind Hertfordshire titles the Comet, Herts Advertiser, Royston Crow and Welwyn Hatfield Times.

“We’re over the moon to have won The Judges’ Award,” said Gemma Vine, communications officer for Sunnyside – which has sites in Berkhamsted and Hemel Hempstead.

We’d like to say a massive thanks to the judges and Archant for organising a wonderful night, and also thanks to the entire Sunnyside Rural Trust team, trainees, volunteers, supporters and friends for all your hard work over the past year.

“The advertising prize will be invaluable for a small charity like ourselves, plus a great opportunity to promote our new café opening spring 2017. Now let’s celebrate!”

The Customer Service Award, sponsored by The Car Agents, went to Vetsure Pet Insurance.

Dr Ashley Gray, the Hatfield company’s managing director, said: “We are overjoyed that out of hundreds of applicants we have gone on to win the Customer Service Award in such a prestigious event, the Hertfordshire Business Awards!

“We hope this recognition will continue to motivate our hardworking, wonderful staff and give our customers that extra peace of mind that we will be there to support them in what can be a very distressing time.”

Alliance Intelligent Scaffolding scooped the Barclays’ sponsored Small Business of the Year award – having won the same title in 2014.

Justin Wall and Daniel Yorke, directors of the Watford firm, said: “It is fantastic to be able to take home this award to our team and clients to thank them for their efforts in making our business the success it is today. We have a fantastic team, and each and every one of us works relentlessly in the pursuit of our business goals.

“Every year we look forward to the awards process, it gives us the opportunity to look retrospectively over our business while also providing with us with a deadline for our business objectives planning for the coming year.

“Entering these awards is an integral part of our business. It is great to hear the judges feedback, and win or lose we take on board all advice offered to us from the judges, using this valuable experience to better ourselves for us, our clients and our team. The awards night is a great opportunity to meet our peers and to celebrate the achievements of the very best, most dedicated businesses Hertfordshire has to offer.

“We are very much looking forward to returning next year and defending our title.”

Sporting Futures Training won the Supporting Young People Award, sponsored by HART Learning & Development.

“We were absolutely thrilled to win,” said Jill Eaton, director of the Stevenage-based company.

“Our young people continue to achieve and aspire in the workplace and we’re very proud of them and the SFT teams who give them such amazing support.

Apprenticeships in schools continue to grow and sporting futures training with their teachers backgrounds and roots in Herts are excited about the future.”

The winner of the Commercial Business in the Community award, sponsored by GetSet for Growth, was JPA Furniture.

Graham Pulsford, managing director of the St Albans firm, said: “JPA Furniture is delighted to have won the award for and pleased for all of our staff who have contributed to the result – it’s a fantastic team effort.

“We firmly believe that companies should integrate into their operational communities and DODO (our unique end of life furniture recycling and re-homing project) has involved all sectors of our community while improving environmental, social and financial performance of all participants. More than 100 organisations are now involved in DODO – over 1,900 furniture items have been re-homed locally free of charge by our teams, eliminating furniture landfill and ensuring savings to recipients in the region of £130,000.00 in furniture spend.

“We have been overwhelmed by the number of messages we have received on social since winning and we would like to thank everyone for their support, it’s very much appreciated. Could I also send a ‘get well soon’ message to my sister Fiona, who heads up our sustainability team, but couldn’t attend last night – she was watching via Twitter! And big congratulations to Chris Holder who represented JPA with aplomb.”

Letchworth-based Dianne Lee Regulatory Consultancy was crowned the Employer of the Year, in a category sponsored by Blue Arrow.

DLRC founder and director Dianne Lee said: “We’re delighted to win this award because our approach to running DLRC is only made possible by the dedication and hard work of our employees.

“Many of them have family commitments and their valuable input into the development of new medicines would be lost if they couldn’t have flexible working arrangements. And our industry is ever evolving so we all need to keep informed of new legislation so our commitment to training is an important factor.

“So the award recognises all the employees of our company who make it a great place to work.”

CVS Broxbourne and East Herts was the Social Enterprise of the Year, sponsored by Knebworth House.

Ian Richardson, chief officer of CVSBEH, said: “We are so proud and delighted to be announced winners of the Social Enterprise category. It’s the culmination of many years of hard work and great partnership working delivered by our superb paid staff team, volunteers and management board.

“CVSBEH exists to build and support the capacity of local voluntary groups and community projects so the opportunity to be associated with such a fantastic group of successful businesses and organisations is great recognition of the work that is undertaken in our sector. We have hundreds of local community groups in membership and this award is also for them.”

The first award of the night went to Farr & Pursey Equine Veterinary Services, crowned as New Business of the Year.

Company director Ricky Farr said: “Starting a new business was a bit of a daunting process. However just 19 months on, we not only have a business we are proud of, but have been shown that like-minded business people also recognise our achievement. Being a finalist for the New Business of the Year was, in our eyes, proof we had started on the ‘right foot’ and gave us the opportunity to analyse our business in ways we never thought possible. Winning the award was a fantastic accomplishment and has cemented the fact that we have grown within our means and have the foundations to succeed.”

Professional photos from the night will appear in Archant’s Hertfordshire titles – the Comet, Herts Advertiser, Royston Crow and Welwyn Hatfield Times – next week.

• If you were among last night’s winners please email nick.gill@archant.co.uk about your success.