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Queen's Awards for Enterprise handed to 11 in the West Midlands

Manufacturing firms dominate the list recognising innovation and international trade – ranging from one employing just 14 people to one employing almost 25,000

Stewart Towe CBE, of Smethwick-based Hadley Group
Stewart Towe CBE, of Smethwick-based Hadley Group

Companies and individuals in the West Midlands have been handed 11 prestigious Queen’s Awards – handed out for business excellence.

Manufacturing firms dominate the list recognising innovation and international trade – ranging from one employing just 14 people to one employing almost 25,000.

On the list are 10-year old Kings Norton firm Industrial Washing Machines, which exports as far afield as Egypt, South Africa and Mexico, Quinton manufacturer Ishida Europe, which has created dozens of jobs on the back of international sales, and Jaguar Land Rover.

Two individuals were also singled out – Aston University Professor Mark Hart programme director of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Programme, and Postcode Anywhere founder Guy Mucklow.

Smethwick-based Hadley Group, Europe’s largest privately owned cold rolled steel manufacturer, was given ana ward for innovation for its unique and patented Ultrasteel manufacturing process, which strengthens the metal.

Chief executive Stewart Towe CBE said: “2014 is the Hadley Group’s fiftieth year in business and to win this prestigious award for a second time is recognition of the experience, knowledge and quality of our in-house research, development and manufacturing capabilities.”

The Ultrasteel process enhances metal strength through a cold rolled ‘pre-forming’ process involving strips of metal being passed between two mating, patterned rolls resulting in the generation of dimpling patterns across the metal surfaces.

It improves the technical performance of steel by up to 30 per cent.

Industrial Washing Machines was founded 10 years ago and employs 32 people, but picked up an award for international trade after overseas earnings growth of 179 per cent over the last three years, meaning exports account for more than a third of turnover.

New business has been established in Australia, Norway and Brazil with the company starting to sell its washing and sanitising equipment into Egypt, South Africa, Mexico and the Republic of Ireland.

Managing director Carl Hollier said: “We’re confident that the prestige associated with the award will give a further boost to our success and will allow us to invest even more in product development and our manufacturing facilities to ensure a continued expansion to our export drive around the globe.”

Elsewhere, city firm Ishida Europe has created 68 new jobs on the back of growing sales for its packaging systems.

The company now employs 335 people, and has become recognised as the “centre of excellence” for its industry, judges said, which has seen it increase its global coverage, with Russia now accounting for 20 per cent of sales, and entry into markets in US, Canada, Chile and Australia.

Fellow winner Jaguar Land Rover’s successes are well documented, as the company continues to smash earnings and profits records on the back of soaring sales in the US and China, which jointly account for 35 per cent of revenue.

Kingswinford firm Mechatherm International, which produces melting and heat treatment furnaces, won an international trade award after exporting almost half of its international sales to Taiwan.

Coventry-based Rhead Group won the award after growing demand for its energy, defence and infrastructure programmes.

The recognition comes after 285 growth in overseas earnings in three years, meaning export sales have risen from four per cent to 10 per cent of turnover.

Cooking Marvellous, based in Shrewsbury, employs just 12 people but impressed judges by exporting to customers in 90 countries.

In the innovation category, Smethwick firm Darcast Crankshafts was recognise for developing and manufacturing a new high strength spheroidal graphite iron material used to produce crankshafts for automotive engines.

Judges said innovation at the firm, which has a 108-strong workforce, had enabled vehicle manufacturers to satisfy the increasing demands of their high torque engines.

Bromsgrove-based Viezu Technologies, which employs just 14 people, was recognised for innovation after developing software that reduces vehicle fuel consumption and carbon emissions.

Its product limits maximum speeds, engine revolution rates, throttle capability and peak torques available to drivers.

Professor Hart, chair of small business and entrepreneurship at Aston University, was recognised in the enterprise promotion category for his involvement in several initiatives.

As well as being academic lead for the Midlands on the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Programme, his work in the field of entrepreneurship and SMEs has been utilised to inform high level

government business support policies.

Mr Mucklow was honoured after using his success at Postcode Anywhere – an online platform allowing users to look up international addresses – to benefit the local community.

He is involved in a range of voluntary enterprise promotion activities in the local community, mainly with young people, including those with disabilities and behavioural problems

Mr Mucklow said: “It’s a real honour and a privilege to have been selected for a Queen’s Award. I guess that I’m passionate about what I do and I love passing some of that enthusiasm onto others. Passion and interest, in my view, are essential ingredients for a happy and fulfilling life, so if you can find something that you love doing you will be successful. Being rewarded in the process is, for me, is like the cherry on the cake.”

 
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