A booming Midlands company which expects 20 per cent growth this year has landed a top accolade.
Smethwick firm Darcast Crankshafts - the largest UK manufacturer of automotive cast crankshafts - has been named the April winner in The Birmingham Post Business Awards.
Managing director Leonard Bransby said: "With orders in hand, the company is expecting turnover this year of £15 million, which represents growth of 20 per cent on last year.
"If we continue to grow at the current rate we may well double our workforce from the current level of 120 in the next two to three years."
Mr Bransby led a management buy-out at the beginning of 2004 and the decision was taken to plough £1 million into research and development.
He said: "It was quite a bold move, but it has been successful."
Darcast has come up with a new high strength cast iron material which has improved mechanical properties compared to standard.
The business has two European competitors and they were now trying to figure out how to recreate the properties of the Darcast product.
Mr Bransby said: "We had a call from one directly asking us. We declined to tell them."
Darcast supplies giants such as Audi, Jaguar, Toyota and JCB and in the Spring it revealed it had picked up a clutch of new orders.
The five contracts from John Deere, Iveco, Same Deutz, SABCO and Cummins had a combined annual value of £5 million.
The company - based at Cornwall Road - has invested around £15 million in new plant, buildings and laboratory facilities over the last five years.
Mr Bransby hailed the long-standing loyalty of the employees.
He said: "Recently I have awarded three 40 year long service awards and typically people stay with us for 15 years."
In making the award, David Smith of Churchill Vinters said it perfectly fitted the criteria of being a "local, dynamic and forward-thinking business".
The presentation is the first in a new round of 12 monthly awards.
Distribution company Aspray Transport was named in April as the Birmingham Post Business of the Year for the previous 12 months.
The overall winners of the awards receives a private two-day visit to Champagne Taittinger's headquarters at Epernay in France, with flights from British Airways.
They also receive two air tickets from BA to anywhere in Europe from Birmingham as well as a mobile phone tech-nology system from Intercity Mobile Communications, and a magnum of Champagne.
In a new move, Warwick-shire County Cricket Club will provide the overall champion with further prize of a private box for a day/night match next season.
Sponsors of the awards are Churchill Vintners, Intercity Mobile Communications, with support provided by Biz TV, British Airways, Aston Business School, and Champagne Taittinger.