AESSEAL triumphs at MX Awards, Loadhog claims Best SME

Posted on 24 Nov 2011

Mechanical seal manufacturer AESSEAL wins the 2011 MX Awards Overall Winner and recyclable packaging innovator Loadhog takes away the Best Small to Medium Enterprise award.

Celebrations will ring out in some quarters of South Yorkshire today as two of its industrial sons took away two top prizes at the 2011 Institution of Mechanical Engineers Manufacturing Excellence Awards in London last night.

Rotherham-based AESSEAL (above), designers and manufacturers of mechanical seals, picked up the overall winners award and Loadhog (below), based close to AESSEAL in Sheffield, collected the coveted Best SME award.

“The success of these companies is encouraging for UK manufacturing as a whole,” said Stephen Tetlow, chief executive of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. “But the Manufacturing Excellence programme is not just about celebrating manufacturing success around the country, but about providing practical advice for businesses to support them on their journey during these difficult economic times.”

Loadhog collects Best Small and Medium Enterprise award from IMechE boss Stephen Tetlow (far left)

Familiar names made the final shortlist of the MX awards this year, including perennials like Leyland Trucks, who won the Business Development and Change Management award, Draeger Safety UK, Carl Zeiss NTS, AESSEAL and missile manufacturers MBDA, who won the award for Best Partnership with Education at the third attempt. Draeger Safety, makers of safety and fire fighting equipment, picked up the WMG Award for Logistics and Operational Efficiency and Carl Zeiss the competitive Autodesk Award for Innovation in Products and Processes.

New names at the MX awards also had success. In spite of a tough year for its employees following the loss of the bid for the £1.4bn Thameslink train contract, Bombardier Transportation won the competitive Power Panels award for People Effectiveness. Agfa Graphics fought off stiff competition in the Sustainable Manufacturing category to triumph here for the first time, while makers of survival equipment such as life rafts Survitec Group – RFD Beaufort won the PwC award for Most Improved Company, despite being run very close by two highly commended entries, Howden Compressors the rotary gas compressor specialists from Glasgow and Flybrid Systems, who develop advanced hybrid flywheel energy recovery traction systems.

Loadhog started life in the early 2000s as the brainchild of Sheffield entrepreneur Hugh Facey, inventor of the Gripple wire connector and owner of the eponymous company. After a difficult first three years where retailers showed early reluctance to adopt the new Loadhog Pally and Lid system, customers including the Royal Mail and Tesco have put Loadhog on a stronger course.

Ed Stubbs, Loadhog’s managing director, said: “Having only relocated our entire operation into far larger premises late last year, it is particularly pleasing to have gained such wide ranging recognition now. Winning this award is the result of a huge effort by an incredibly dedicated team of people over the last few years and very well deserved – my congratulations go to all of them.

“I must also congratulate AESSEAL on its magnificent achievement as the IMechE’s overall winner and winner of the customer focus award. It is so gratifying to see two South Yorkshire companies recognised and hitting the high spots in the manufacturing world.”

Founded by charismatic Irish businessman Chris Rea, MX Awards perennial competitor AESSEAL took group turnover this year above £100 million and was “proud to have created at least 80 new jobs in 2011”. The judges highlighted several factors in their selection for the top spot: the company’s exemplary credit control and prompt payment of suppliers; its strong local community engagement; its corporate desire and efforts to improve the perception of manufacturing as a career, and above all the clear demonstration of its devotion to customer service.

AESSEAL’s CEO Jonathan Wilkinson said: “We have always respected the work of the IMechE, and it is fantastic for our company to continue to be recognised. The company’s mission statement has always been clear: to deliver such exceptional service that our customers need never consider an alternate means of supply. Delivering on that promise is difficult – but the business has been designed throughout to achieve it. We have great people who care about customer service, and we give them the tools to deliver it. This award really demonstrates the exceptional quality of the people who provide engineering and service to our customers.”

The MX Awards 2011 winners are:

Pipex px – Barclays Corporate Award for Financial Management

 Agfa Graphics Ltd – Arup Award for Sustainable Manufacturing

 MBDA UK Ltd – The ERA Foundation Award for Best Partnership with Education

 Draeger Safety UK Ltd – WMG Award for Logistics and Operational Efficiency

 AESSEAL plc – Institution of Mechanical Engineers Award for Customer Focus

 Leyland Trucks – Lombard Award for Business Development and Change Management

 Bombardier Transportation – Power Panels Award for People Effectiveness

 Carl Zeiss NTS Ltd – Autodesk Award for Innovation in Products and Processes

 Survitec Group – RFD Beaufort – PwC Award for Most Improved Company

 Watch out for an interview with Andrea Thompson, chief executive of the winner of the Business Development award Leyland Trucks, in the January issue of TM.