Castle crowned king at sell-out TM Awards 2010

Posted on 20 Nov 2010 by The Manufacturer

Lord Digby Jones inspires and Castle Precision Engineering triumphs at The Manufacturer of the Year Awards 2010.

Castle Precision Engineering was crowned The Manufacturer of the Year at one of the biggest nights in the manufacturing calendar, TM’s annual award ceremony on Thursday.

The family-owned Glasgow precision engineering firm, which was established in 1951 by Polish immigrant Jan Tiefenbrun, beat off strong competition by other category winners such as runner-up, motorsport engineering company Xtrac, and third placed cleaning product manufacturer Robert McBride.

The Manufacturer of the Year Award was judged by Joe Greenwell, chairman of Ford of Britain, and Allan Cook, chairman of engineering group Atkins, and was lead-sponsored by Royal Bank of Scotland for the fourth consecutive year.

Castle Precision Engineering also collected the award for the Kingston Smith-sponsored Best Small and Medium-Sized Enterprise. Owner and CEO of Castle Precision Marcus Tiefenbrun said he was absolutely delighted with two awards that “reflected a lot of hard work from everybody in the company. Our market diversification and customer service has set us apart and this award is a great recognition of that.”

The gala event was a sell-out with over 450 people, mostly manufacturers, attending the dinner. Both big and small names were rewarded, many of whom were debutant entries. Winners ranged from big companies like Constellation Europe, part of the largest wine company in the world, Worcester-based Joy Mining and Michelin Tyres UK, to successful Sheffield-based SMEs Gripple and DavyMarkham.

Three categories were so closely contested that runners-up were given Highly Commended awards. Case New Holland UK of Basildon was only just pipped by Joy Mining in the World Class Manufacturing category and the UK division of Swedish oncology machine group Elekta was unlucky not to have scooped the Supply Chain & Logistics award, although Kent brewer Shepherd Neame was overall a worthy winner of this category.

Lord Digby Jones of Birmingham delivered a knock-out speech, driving home the importance of manufacturing in the UK to an acquiescent audience with characteristic wit, intelligence and a deft common man’s touch. Receiving several rounds of applause for emphasising the importance of business as the sole real wealth generator and originator of all tax revenue, he humoured the packed house with patriotic anecdotes on subjects from Winston Churchill to the Austin Allegro.

He made a plea that it was time for industry to stop bashing the banks and to work together. He said that a prosperous future UK economy relied on growing both manufacturing and the financial sector in parallel, without mutual exclusion, adding that there is evidence that access to finance for companies is improving. Lord Jones is chairman of the International Business Advisory Board of HSBC, but his strong links to Jaguar Land Rover and background as director-general of the CBI added gumption to his view that it was time to bury the hatchet with the financial sector.

Reserving his most emphatic message to the end, Lord Jones tackled the UK skills gap which many believe needs urgent action, and focused on basic education deficiencies as a barrier to global competitiveness.

He warned of spurning the gifts of a good education, saying: “In the UK we are entitled by law to 11 years of full-time, compulsory and free education, but we take it for granted…. If manufacturing is going to sing, it’s going to happen off the back of constantly improving and putting knowledge into what we do and then selling it at a premium price around the world. But we won’t do that if half the kids can’t get a grade C or above in English or maths.” (see bottom for a fuller transcript).

His speech resonated well with the partisan audience, many of whom remarked on the conviction with which he conveyed his belief that competitive manufacturing, business and trade was the only route to accelerating the pace of a turgid, post-recession recovery.

While Digby Jones stole the show, the manufacturers were the real stars. The customary cheering competition on nomination was satisfactorily noisy, with CNH UK, Willerby Holiday Homes, Robert McBride and Gripple the top candidates for the Rowdiest Table Award. When their second award of the night was announced, for Innovation and Design, Team Robert McBride nearly lifted the roof off.

The evening was an unqualified success, and followed The Manufacturer Director’s Conference 2010, also a very successful event which entertained 150 delegates on thought leadership topics from UK and US business and education experts.

<Magnanimous commisserations
While many companies were disappointed not to have won an award, many people remarked that they thoroughly enjoyed the judging and awards experience, which had sharpened their resolve to return next year and win.

Special commiserations go to Kostal UK who were “absolutely gutted” to have missed out to neighbour engineering firm DavyMarkham in the Operations and Maintenance category, and to Sergio Soares and the whole team at CNH UK, who can feel very unlucky in the World Class Manufacturing Award as this category was exceptionally hard to separate. GKN Wheels, Willerby and AWS Electronics also ran them close but Joy Mining must be congratulated on excellent preparation and statistics, in an entry that showed great initiative from their US parent. Joy also came close in the Supply Chain category.

Home manufacturer Willerby Holiday Homes, outright winners in 2008, won the TM Chairman’s Award for consistently high performance over multiple award categories – the Hull company entered seven of 12 categories. Director Colin Jeffrey has led Willerby through a total lean transformation over the last seven years, and while he was disappointed not to have won a main category, he said the 2010 process had encouraged him to seek out the benchmark and to return in 2011.

Beyond the ceremony itself, the evening was great entertainment. Old acquaintances were renewed and the excellent band rocked the party well past midnight. Winners and runners-up alike threw themselves at the dance floor, despite the distracting influence of one couple who had clearly got caught up in the euphoria of the night, indulging in a somewhat explicit ‘bump ‘n grind’ dance routine. Aaron from Willerby Holiday Homes was apparently in training for the 2012 London Olympics, taking a flying long jump out of the conference centre doors and nearly flattening The Manufacturer’s editor. No harm done Aaron.

All good fun and on behalf of SayOne Media, sincere congratulations to all the award winners and shortlisted entries. Thank you very much too to all the sponsors for their support, and to Lord Jones. See you all next year!

The winners of The Manufacturer of the Year Awards 2010, in association with Royal Bank of Scotland, are:
Castle Precision Engineering – The Manufacturer of the Year 2010 sponsored by Royal Bank of Scotland and Best SME, sponsored by Kingston Smith.
Robert McBride – Winner, Innovation and Design award sponsored by the Technology Strategy Board, and winner, Leadership and Strategy award sponsored by EMS Sigma.

Joy Mining – Winner, World Class Manufacturing award sponsored by Applied Angle
Case New Holland UK – Highly Commended, World Class Manufacturing award.

Shepherd Neame – Winner, Supply Chain and Logistics award sponsored by Palletline
Elekta – Highly Commended, Supply Chain and Logistics award.

Constellation Europe – Winner, Sustainable Manufacturing sponsored by Siemens.

Willerby Holiday Homes – Winner, Chairman’s Award for Manufacturing Excellence.

Gripple – Winner, People and Skills award sponsored by Kronos.

DavyMarkham – Winner, Operations and Maintenance sponsored by Brammer.

Michelin Tyres UK – Winner, Manufacturing in Action award sponsored by TBM Consulting Group.

Xtrac – Winner, Advanced Manufacturing sponsored by IMCRC and Loughborough University.

Ultraframe – Winner, Financial Management award sponsored by Eversheds.

Permastore – Winner, IT in Manufacturing award sponsored by Columbus IT.

[Part of Digby Jones, Baron Jones of Birmingham’s speech about skills:]

“There are 6.5 billion people on this planet and four billion don’t get something that we take for granted every day.
In the UK we are entitled by law to 11 years of full-time, compulsory and free education. I’ll tell you how much we take it for granted, last summer half the kids that took a GCSE did not get a grade C or above in English and maths, and they are the ones that took it. Half the kids are basically functionally illiterate.

Ultimately, if we are really going to make manufacturing sing, we are going to do it off the back of value-added innovation. We’re going to do it off the back of constantly improving and putting knowledge in to what we do and then selling it at a premium price around the world. But we won’t do that if half the kids can’t get a grade C or above in English or maths and we won’t do that if one fifth of the workforce can’t read.”

[On the financial sector he said:]
“Let’s grow the economy on the back of manufacturing [but] let’s not be substituting one for another. I want financial services to succeed in this country and I want manufacturing to come up alongside it, not to take its place.”