A Redditch firm that supplies many of the world’s luxury liners and high speed trains with windscreen wiper systems is the winner of this year’s Birmingham Post Business Award.
Jonathan Eddy, chief executive of the Hepworth Group, received the award from the Duke of Gloucester at the Hyatt Hotel in Birmingham.
Mr Eddy, who describes himself as a “die hard manufacturer”, paid tribute to his workforce saying that without their efforts the award would not have been possible.
“It is an honour to receive this award. We are not a company that likes to shout about our success – we just get on with things,” he said.
In many ways the company is a typical Midland manufacturing success story – an SME supplying high quality components to some of the world’s most demanding companies and adding value to the local economy.
Hepworth, which has been in business since 1868, employs 65 people. It recently moved to new premises in Redditch to cater for the growth in its business – its orders books are such that it is close to trebling output to cope with demand. It also has a manufacturing operation in Cheltenham.
The firm exports up to 70 per cent of everything it makes and has customers in the Far East, Europe, and the US.
Mr Eddy recently visited China and received interest from several customers together with a firm inquiry from South Korea on wiper systems for buses. Although many operating in the rail and marine sectors, the company also has automotive experience, indeed its wiper systems are used on a fleet of buses in New York.
In the maritime field its most prestigious recent contract has been the supply of the wiper systems and six control systems to the liner Queen Victoria, while it has also supplied systems to the Queen Mary II, Queen Elizabeth I and II, and the Canberra, as well as the Princess line of ships and Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Challenger. It also supplies to the US Navy and Coastguard, while its US subsidiary Window Wiper Technologies supplies to the US Army.
Its rail division supplies many leading customers including Siemens, Alstom, CAF, CCC and Rotem. It has also signed a deal with Bombardier on a new cab project.“We have worked very hard to achieve this but we could not have done so without the support of everyone connected with the firm. We are looking to the future with confidence and recognition such as this can only our cause,” added Mr Eddy.
Friday’s ceremony was attended by representatives from the various companies to have won the award during the past year together with invited guests and sponsors.
The main sponsors of The Birmingham Post Business Awards are Intercity Mobile Communications and Churchill Vintners in association with Champagne Taittinger. Churchill managing director David Smith said: “The award is now in its 22nd year and it is special because you cannot enter for it – you can only win by getting a story included within the business page of The Birmingham Post.
“It is important in these difficult times that we recognise firms that are doing well.”
Flybe and Aston Business School provide further support, along with Biz-tv, part of Aston Media at Aston University, which produces a business video of each monthly winner worth £2,500. And Warwickshire County Cricket Club provides a private box for one of their day/night games. Yorkshire Bank sponsors the end of series presentation event and also provides its city centre meeting facilities as a prize for the overall winner.
Awards administrator Bob Keys also paid tribute to the organisations which host the monthly events.
“The awards ability to secure high profile monthly hosts adds an important dimension to the series and this last year we have been guests of AWM, the Lord Mayor, the PGA, Aston Villa, Birmingham Airport and the National Motorcycle Museum amongst many others. In essence the awards’ team is a large co-operative of diverse interests who combine to create this unique project,” he said.