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 month’s Birmingham Post Business Award.
Representatives from The Hepworth Group received the award at a presentation, hosted by Warwickshire County Cricket Club at Edgbaston.
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.
And yet outside of its own circle, very few have heard of it.
"We like to keep things low key," said managing director and chief executive Jonathan Eddy. "We don’t like to shout about what we do."
The company has recently completed a move to bigger factory premises - still within Redditch - in order to meet the demands of a packed order book.
The move has come just in time as Mr Eddy said the firm was so busy it was going to have to double, even treble output in order to cope with the demand.
"This is a very exciting time for us. I’m a diehard manufacturer and for us to be recognised with something like this is wonderful.
"However, it wouldn’t be possible without the efforts of all 65 staff and so I would like to thank them for their efforts."
The Hepworth Group is a privately-owned family concern. The company has signed a 15-year lease on its new premises, which are in North Moons Moat, Redditch.
The firm exports up to 70 per cent of everything it makes and has customers in the Far East, Europe, and the US.
"Our order book is full for the next three months and there is work guaranteed as far out as 2015. Output has risen significantly over the last two years and needs to grow even further to meet our customers’ growing demands," said Mr Eddy.
He said that only this week the company had received an inquiry from a customer in China and would be sending a deputation there next week.
The family has been in business since 1868.
Jonathan Eddy and his brother Andrew came to Redditch in 1962 when they bought out Dudley Screenwipers.The group also has a manufacturing unit in Cheltenham.
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.
"People recognise that our products are of the highest quality and that is why they use us.
"Companies in China have tried to copy what we do but we know that their quality cannot match ours, which is why we continue to win orders there," said Mr Eddy.
The main sponsors of The Birmingham Post Business Awards are Intercity Mobile Communications and Churchill Vintners in association with Champagne Taittinger.
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.