Some of the West Midlands’ top automotive companies have been honoured at one of the country’s most prestigious supplier awards ceremonies.
Guests from across the region gathered at Birmingham’s International Convention Centre where a Coventry steering parts manufacturer, a Birmingham tool-maker and a Cannock precision parts-turner were honoured at the Accelerate Supplier Awards.
Coventry’s b2, which employs 22 people, received two awards to add to its growing collection. The company, which has won two previous Accelerate awards, walked away with the Best of the Best trophy and was also named best in the Coventry and Warwickshire region.
b2 was adjudged winner for steering its way to an impressive predicted annual growth of £2.03 million, up from £875,000 in 2005 and for recently winning a highly acclaimed LDV supplier award.
Barkley Plastics, which employs 100 staff at its Highgate Street site in Birmingham, walked away with the Large SME award for heavily investing in more efficient machinery, diversifying into other markets, increasing its turnover and boosting staff qualifications.
Meanwhile, Cannock’s Key Precision, caught the judging panel’s eye in the Small SME category after dramatically reducing lead time from seven days to two-and-a-half in one year and boosting turnover from £280,000 to more than £400,000 in the same period.
Rachel Eade, Accelerate programme manager, said the awards recognised the contribution supply firms made to the region’s manufacturing economy.
Other awards – presented on the evening by ex-Tory MP and political pundit Gyles Brandreth – saw Halesowen’s Rieter GB Automotive win the environmental category, Birmingham’s Radshape Sheetmetals took the People Development award and Bridgnorth’s Grainger and Worrall carried off the trophy in the Export category.
A Partnership category, new to the awards this year, recognising manufacturers working together, was won by Birmingham-based Midlands Assembly Network – a collaboration of nine separate companies each with its own speciality.
Brierley Hill’s Eaton Automotive was honoured with the Supplier Development award and Rieter Automotive also won Best in Region for the Black Country.
Managed by Birmingham Chamber of Commerce and Industry and funded by Advantage West Midlands and the European Regional Development Fund, Accelerate use the awards as a platform to celebrate the can-do mentality of the West Midlands automotive industry supply chain.
Driven by the changing face of the industry, the programme has assisted more than 1,700 companies in implementing best practice manufacturing systems, securing production efficiencies and cultivating workforce development.
The theme of the awards evening was Legends.
This was reflected in some of the historic vehicles on display including the VW Camper van, Mini Cooper, Aeromax, Morgan Life Car and the Jaguar XF.
A special charity raffle and auction also helped raise around £4,000 for the Sunshine Variety Club.
The charity assists disabled youngsters in the community.