Meet the boss who started with his business from school - and is still referred to as the new boy.

Colin Sarson, aged 47, is managing director of an award winning Midlands company where staff tend to stay put.

Mr Sarson paid tribute to the 400 strong-workforce at WH Smith and Sons Tools and revealed there was a strong tradition of people sticking with the business. He said the oldest employee is 72-years-old and "some people still refer to me as the new starter".

The Minworth firm is celebrating after picking up this month's Birmingham Post Business Award.

Up to fifty supply jobs under threat after the collapse of MG Rover have been secured following the speedy injection of Taskforce cash.

The injection moulder employed the staff solely on work for the troubled car giant but the money has given bosses breathing space.

Mr Sarson said: "We are finding ways to retrain the 40 to 50 people affected and we do not anticipate having to make any redundancies. We have a superb workforce, and we're very proud of their commitment and loyalty."

The Government announced #40 million to support Rover workers and supply staff after MG Rover went into administration.

Mr Sarson was speaking at a ceremony at the Government Office for the West Midlands in Birmingham where he accepted the first award of the Birmingham Post Business Award's 20th season, running through 2005/2006.

The award is made monthly to the local firm which has provided the best good news business story. And it was the success of the Minworth firm in supplying gear knobs for Toyota which caught the judges' eye.

The Post revealed WH Smith & Sons had been honoured by the Japanese firm as its top supplier.

Mr Sarson said he was delighted with both awards - from Toyta and The Post - and paid tribute to his staff.

"I came here straight from school - and some people still refer to me as the new starter," he added.

In less than 20 years the company has grown to a point where it supplies gear knobs for more than ten million vehicles worldwide.

Established in 1933, WH Smith & Sons Tools, now has a turnover of #22 million which it hopes to expand to #25 million.

The Toyota award - in tandem with its subsequent publicity - gave the business several lines of inquiry which WH Smith believes could lead to future orders, in addition to work it already carries out for businesses including Nissan, Honda, BMW, Land Rover and Bentley.

The carmaker's four European factories recognised the excellence of its delivery system, following its achievement of 100 per cent delivery targets over the last 18 months.

Under the contract, which was worth #1.8 million last year, the company builds a leather-covered gear knob for Toyota every 13 seconds.


The main sponsors of the Birmingham Post Business Awards are: Intercity Mobile Communications and Churchill Vintners in association with Champagne Taittinger. British Airways and Aston Business School provide further support. Biz-tv, part of Aston Media at Aston University, produces a video of each monthly winner worth #2,500.