Construction and key trades behind it were celebrated strongly as the HullLive Business Awards were unveiled.
Building back better had clearly been taken to heart in the regional economy as recovery saw strong performance and growth heralded.
Large Business of the Year winner M-AR Offsite was rewarded for huge expansion into Hull.
A 100,000 sq ft manufacturing centre was acquired on Freightliner Road as it expanded from Melton, enabling it to increase and accelerate the delivery of modular housing across the UK with significant contracts to serve.
It is on the way to creating 100 new jobs as demand ramps up and capacity is pushed, having gone from 40 to 70 through the pandemic, with 85 now on the books.
Ryan Geldard, operations director, said: “For our business, that has seen the amount of growth we have and the people we employ being mostly local, this means the absolute world.
“The reaction of the senior staff has shown that and it is a good reflection of the clients we work with, who enable us to grow so quickly. It is testament to them, our people, and our supply chain, which is mostly located in the Hull area.
“We’ve had a big move, and large growth brings with it challenges, but we’re doing everything possible to carry it on with a great team.”
Underlining the reasons why Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust was awarded the special accolade in last year’s online celebration, was Helix CMS as it took the Customer Focus category for 2021.
The fledgling Hull construction management service provider has played a key role in critical care infrastructure provision.
Mark Pearson, construction director, told how efforts made by all would do well to compare with those on the frontline.
He said: “Customer service is massive in our sector, and no more so with the nature of work we have been doing. Working in the health sector, in a Covid hospital for the last 18 months, doing work around intensive care, we have seen the really hard work these people have been doing. They are so committed to what they do, and we’ve been breaking through to build new corridors, and it has been incredible to see how they have adapted. They are such special people, and we have got to be at our best to deliver these scheme with them.”
Daniel Haley was delighted to see his seven-year-old mechanical and electrical contracting business GW Power-Safe take the Small Business of the Year accolade.
And there was a strong endorsement from construction sector entrepreneur Dr Paul Sewell OBE as he reflected on the win.
“He’s an incredible entrepreneur and I’m so proud of him,” interjected one of Hull’s most successful examples.
Mr Haley, who has taken on his own city headquarters to facilitate growth and diversification, said: “I was really surprised, and I’m so proud of my team. They have worked their socks off since we started, and they will all be really made up. We have a massive year ahead and this is just the start for us.”
Numbers have gone from three to 37, with more to come.
Hull’s DBB Electrical was named Start-Up Business of the Year, with Dean Brown’s hunger to succeed after being written off by some of his contemporaries shining through.
“It was hard work and dedication having been put down from the start,” he reflected on the emotional win, greeted with one of the loudest cheers of the night.
“We have got a fantastic team, the apprentices and electricians I have hired all work really hard, we are one team,” he said.
He launched in 2019 as a sole trader, with strong growth through the pandemic noted.
Sewell was back in the spotlight with the Diversity and Inclusion Award, building on the prestige of being named a Queen’s Award winner in 2021.
Cameron Wood, junior consultant at the group, said: “It is absolutely fantastic. As employees we know about this, but to get recognition, this award and the Queen’s Award, is so important as it lets other people know how this is our every day.”
And the focus on the team was clear from Training and Development winner Paragon Toolmaking, where a four-year apprenticeship programme is thriving at the recently invested-in business.
General manager Kevin Batty reflected on the importance, particularly in the current labour market.
“The ability to bring on your own employees is absolutely essential for businesses like ours,” he said. “We rely on people, not the equipment or the machinery, it is the people. A lot of businesses seem to forget the importance of people and skills that are there.
“The last year has been a tough year for us, but we’re seeing it getting better, and really positive for a good strong return with UK manufacturing. “
One apprentice truly appreciated is Adam Ferreira of Jupiter IT Solutions.
The 21-year-old picked up the night’s first award.
Of the Apprentice of the Year accolade, he said: “It is amazing, and unexpected. I back myself, work hard and I thank Jupiter IT for giving me the opportunity.
“I have always been interested in IT, and I applied for an apprenticeship. They brought me in straight away, straight in the deep end and it has developed from there. They have given me more responsibility and it is coming along really well.”
Described as becoming an outstanding member of the team since joining in 2019, he managed key pandemic functions and has passed his Level Three Infrastructure Technician course with distinction, while adding other strings in his own time.
‘Entrepreneur by accident’
Accidental entrepreneur Paul Needler was delighted to take the Innovation and Technology award having returned to his home patch to further his product.
The Elloughton surveyor brought a solution to a growing problem for online shoppers, having tinkered in his garage.
He has now secured orders with housebuilders for his IParcelBox invention, a smart residential parcel delivery locker.
Mr Needler said: “It is fantastic to get the recognition. I was born and bred in Hull, spent 20 years in London, and created Iparcelbox to solve a problem encountered more and more as we buy online.
“I have moved back up and it is great recognition of what one man is still doing on his own, and much needed recognition for a world-leading product delivered out of a small spot in Elloughton. I’m an entrepreneur by accident.
“It is now patented in the UK and Europe, patent pending elsewhere, and we have contracts with major companies. It is still just me, and global competitors are waking up to it to see I’ve got a three-year charge on the market.
While the problem eased for many in the enforced home curfew times that Covid brought, it was not going out and the implications such lockdowns brought that put the emphasis on a trio of award winners.
Tribfest was recognised for its Contribution to East Riding.The Sledmere Park event, led by father and daughter team Ed and Dempsey Faulkner, was back for a 15th year shortly after the Prime Minister announced restrictions were being lifted this summer.
Mr Faulkner said: “On July 19 Boris said we could go ahead, we had some things in place, but we had not done any marketing. Luckily 85 per cent of the people who had bought tickets for 2020 rolled them over which was fantastic.
“We put a lot of hard work in, we’ve been doing it for 15 years, dealing with the weather as an outdoor event and then this. It is really, really nice to receive something like this – for the hardworking staff and the people who will no doubt be back again next year.”
Young Entrepreneur of the Year Milly Rose’s Fantastic Faces event face painting business was also dealt a Covid blow that required an immediate pivot.
“It is incredible to have the recognition for what we have been trying to create,” she said. “I actually started a clothing business in lockdown and since then we have managed to employ six people for the face painting, and we’re still doing the clothing as well.
“This is appreciated by us all.”
Claire Clark was named Employee of the Year, having taken the position of head of engineering at Arco as the pandemic raged.
She leads a large software product development unit, while mentoring in digital skills alongside the senior role with the leading city firm.
“I joined in lockdown at the start of the year, and for the first six months I couldn’t meet anyone face to face,” she said. “It made it a challenge to get to know the team and settle in, but it has been a brilliant experience with a brilliant team. I’m really fortunate to work at Arco, such an amazing company specialising in safety services.”
Entrepreneur of the Year in a category sponsored by Sewell Group was Albert Weatherill of Van Ameyde McAuslands.
A director of the business within a decade of joining from the Merchant Navy, he has been instrumental in making a long established Hull-based marine surveyor an international force, from the Humber to Teesport and Taiwan.