Last week saw the third annual Thames Valley SME 100 Growth Index awards, giving recognition for impressive results and strong leadership by the region’s top small and medium-sized businesses. Around 50 guests attended an awards evening the Lamborghini showroom in Pangbourne.
There was a strong line up of businesses from across the Thames Valley, but there could only be one winner in each category and the winners were –
Growing the Workforce
Winner: E3D, Chalgrove-based designer and producer of high-quality components for the additive manufacturing industry.
Judges’ said “Alongside their impressive growth as a business, they have constantly invested in their people and they fully recognise the importance of their employees throughout the journey they have made from the bedroom to moving the whole business under one roof.”
Clare Difazio, Head of Marketing and Product Strategy said “We’re absolutely delighted to receive a TV SME 100 Growth award, and particularly this one – our workforce is absolutely essential to our success. We’ve recognised this even more so over the Covid-19 era and its many challenges that the team has risen to. We increased our workforce by 57% in 2020/2021 and forecast strong company growth over the coming 12-14 months, which will only be possible through significant further recruitment and retention of passionate individuals.”
Finalist: Darke & Taylor
SME 100 Growth (over £10m)
Winner: Curve Workplaces, Bracknell-based specialist in office, warehouse, and laboratory design and furniture consultancy.
Judges’ comments: “Curve has the ability to provide clients with inventive design and efficient construction on a turnkey basis. The business has shown impressive growth of 33% to take turnover to £16m at the time of publication. This is coupled with project delivery and business achievements throughout the year.”
Michael Potter, Managing Director said “We’re thrilled to win. Our success comes from the strength of our team and this award is for them. We’ve assembled the right blend of people with the right attitude and skills and they’ve worked hard in difficult times. I don’t think the uncertainty in the office market has impinged on us much. Whenever there is change there is an opportunity for us to help clients, whether businesses are expanding, contracting or looking at different ways of working.”
Finalist: Darke & Taylor
SME 100 Growth (under £10m)
Winner: Bridewell Consulting Reading-based cyber security services company.
Judges’ comments: “This company impressed with its significant growth profile but also demonstrated its continued trajectory with some aspirational but achievable goals. With high growth of revenue, 40% growth through Covid-19 and high growth in employee numbers they are a thoroughly deserving winner.”
Anthony Young, Co-CEO said“We have scaled up massively through the Covid-19 period. There were a couple of months when we held back to see what was happening and saw that demand didn’t really drop. We were one of the few people in our industry who were hiring heavily. This allowed us to recruit lots more amazing people, so we had the capability and capacity to deliver. We grew our workforce from 40 in 2019 to about 120 today and went from three to eight offices across the UK, which is important for recruitment.”
Finalists: Datum Datacentres; E3D-Online; Nouveau Solutions
Leadership Through Challenging Times
Winner: Thomas International Marlow-based recruitment specialist.
Judges’ comments: “The leadership team has taken a holistic approach. Leadership through challenging times doesn’t just mean how you have survived over the last difficult year or so but how you apply those leadership skills in a thriving and fast-growing business like this one and bring the culture of your people along with you while expanding exponentially.”
Sabby Gill, CEO said “Probably the biggest challenge for us was putting people on furlough. Not being able to come into the office and have social interactions was an emotional drain. Setting up one mental health first aider for every eight employees was a really important initiative for us. My UK-based leadership team had the added pressure of dealing with time zones supporting our 200 staff who are based around the world, so everyone felt looked after. We are a people business and the most enjoyable part of my job is meeting every single employee every six months.”
Finalists: Blue Apple Contract Catering; CIPHR; Curve Workplaces
Tech Company of the Year
Winner: Bridewell Consulting Reading-based cyber security services.
Judges’ comments: “We were impressed with its plans for further expansion built on scaling up service delivery and cross-selling its wide range of services across four divisions, including international growth. The directors demonstrated their awareness that the development of the business has to be built around good people with a new strategic ‘Head of People’ appointment, and a focus on recruitment and retention.”
Anthony Young, Co-CEO said “We’ve always had a focus on the quality of work we deliver to our clients. We work in the high-growth cyber security sector and look for people with a real passion for the subject – this isn’t a 9-5 job as cyber attacks can happen at any time. We invest pretty heavily in employees with a £5,000 per year training budget per person. We give them the ability to grow and develop and they just fly – our clients really love that. We have also just won Cyber Business of the Year at the National Cyber Awards.”
Finalists: Amatis Networks; Nouveau Solutions
One to Watch
Winner: Cobbs Farm Co Hungerford-based provider of locally sourced food products from farm shops.
Judges’ comments: “We were impressed by the growth achieved over the year and, in particular, the clear strategy the management team has for developing the business, while maintaining very strong links to each of the local communities in which it operates.”
Finalists: Snaffling Pig; Tower Leasing; Walker Logistics