A Birmingham manufacturer, which has overcome 'frightening and unfair competition', from overseas rivals has won this year's The Birmingham Post Business Award.
Graham Hateley, managing director of Grayson Thermal Systems, said Midland firms could still compete with low-cost countries by focusing on quality and niche products.
He made the rallying call as he collected this year?s The Birmingham Post Business Award from Trade and Industry Minister Jacqui Smith yesterday.
Grayson, which is based in Tyseley, was recognised after sealing a deal to make airconditioning systems for double decker buses in Las Vegas.
It hopes the contract will provide a springboard for future orders for its cooling systems across North America.
Mr Hateley said: ?We are a successful team. We have to sell manufactured products in an environment where the competition is often unfair.
?When you look at the labour costs we have got and compare that with the rest of the world, it is frightening. But we are determined to be successful and export products from Birmingham to the rest of the world.?
The firm, which Mr Hateley set up with #2,000 of savings in 1978, is on course to increase its turnover this year from #9 million to #11 million this year.
It currently employs 110, a figure it expects to increase in the coming years as it targets annual sales of #18 million.
Mr Hateley said: ?It was heartening to hear to be at the Automekanica show last year and hearing people coming up to the stand and say if the product was made in Birmingham, they felt they were buying quality.
?We can compete, but we have to concentrate on quality, and give the customer what they want. But we also have to invest in our businesses.?
As well as a special plaque, the Graysons received a trip to Rheims as guests of Champagne Taittinger, two tickets from British Airways to any European destination and a #5,000 consultancy package from Lloyds TSB.
Grayson also received the latest mobile-phone system from Intercity Mobile and a video package from Biz TV.
Johnson?s Coach and Bus, based in Henley in Arden, picked up the Aston University Prize, and collected #9,000 towards a study package there.
The travel company was recognised after investing in training for staff.
Peter Johnson, operations director, said: ?We are like a football team, we are only as good as our last job and our people are crucial in that.?
Ms Smith said: ?I have been very impressed by the standard of the monthly winners.
They show they can be a success in the face of constant challenges such as globalisation.
?These winners will have made a crucial difference to their communities, employees and the local economy.?
The main sponsors of The Birmingham Post Business Awards are Intercity Mobile Communications and Churchill Vintners in association with Champagne Taittinger.
Lloyds Bank co-sponsors the overall winners luncheon, and provides further support with British Airways and Aston Business School. Biz TV, part of Aston Media at Aston University, produces a business video of each monthly winner worth #32,500.
BBC Radio WM interviews most winners on their morning breakfast show as part of its ongoing involvement with the awards.
The judges choose the best news story appearing in The Birmingham Post that month.
So if you have a good story to tell, contact the Business Desk on 0121-2345515 or send us the details.