Foster Refrigerator was crowned Winner of Winners at the EEF Future of Manufacturing Awards last night, and also claimed the Environmental Efficiency Award.
Inset picture: Foster Refrigerator’s factory.
Main picture shows Foster Refrigerator’s Ashley Sword receiving the EEF Winner of Winner’s Award 2010 from the BBC’s Declan Curry (R) and a representative from event sponsor, software company Infor
At a gala dinner at the historic Merchant Taylor’s Hall, hosted by BBC presenter Declan Curry, some of the UK’s best manufacturers packed the venue to challenge for awards in nine categories.
Categories were clubbed into four main divisions: Enterprise, Innovation, Environmental and the Apprentice category, and each division provided two award categories.
Kings Lynn-based Foster Refrigerator, the leading commercial refrigeration manufacturer in Europe renowned for its energy efficient technologies, came out on top in the National Environmental Efficiency Award and the overall Winner of Winners.
Other category winners included familiar UK manufacturing names on the award circuit, such as Carl Zeiss, BAE Systems, DavyMarkham and Siemens Motion Control, as well as lesser known names who won recognition through hard work, innovation and investment, such as silicon chip maker Diodes Zetex Semiconductors.
On receiving the top award Ashley Sword, regional business unit manager at Foster Refrigerator, told the audience: “It’s very nice to get some recognition for this. The environment is not always a sexy area to put work and energy into, and its nice that our peers and, I hope, competitors, recognise this. Everybody in the company will be told about this and will feel proud.”
Presenting the award, Stephen Tilsley of sponsor EAL said the judges remarked of the environmental award: “If every manufacturer in the UK followed this company’s example, Britain would be in a very good position in the fight against climate change.” Foster also collected the EEF Regional and National Awards for Climate Change Opportunity in 2009.
In other categories Accrol Paper, which makes toilet and tissue paper, won the Business Growth Award after posting a 600% profit increase from investing up to £6m in new technology. General manager John Flanaghan was delighted, and joked, “Business has been good. Its recession proof. Yes, we sold a bit more product to the banking sector recently, and heavy duty paper too.”
Heavy steel component maker DavyMarkham picked up the Skills Award, recognising the company’s efforts in reintroducing an apprenticeship scheme after 25 years’ absence and helping to establish Workwise, a scheme to get Sheffield school children placed into local companies. Asked by Declan Curry if he was worried that their highly trained apprentices could be poached by other firms, driving force MD Kevin Parkin said, “No, because they won’t want to leave us.”
Managing director of scanning electron microscope manufacturer Carl Zeiss, Bob Taylor, attributed the work the firm had done on improving real-time information on product manufacturer, availability and logistics to their winning their award, for Innovative People Practices.
Innovative computer chip maker Diodes Zetex Semiconductors, one of the UK’s best kept secrets in electronic manufacture, won the Climate Change Opportunity award. Applications director Colin Peppers got a little carried away by the occasion’s ebullience, saying: “Small things can make a big difference, and there’s not one thing you own that hasn’t got something in it made in Oldham!”. The audience responded with an ovation.
Cobham’s Mark Empson, a fanatic of flying and aviation, won the Outstanding Achievement by a First Year Apprentice award, in a field that included A&P Tyne, Rolls-Royce, MBDA and Corus Packaging Plus.
Winner of the parallel award for Final Year Apprentices, BAE Systems’ Alan Maquire, got a laugh from the audience when asked by Curry why he chose to stick with the apprenticeship scheme. “Because everything else I’ve done was rubbish,” he joked, before explaining more about the problem-solving aspects of the job.
Alan led a team on BAE’s innovation challenge in 2006 to develop an evacuation device for care home residents in emergency situations. The team came second out of all BAE sites globally, and a patent on the device is pending. The judges said, “Alan is… the sort of character UK engineering will depend on to meet its needs for future growth.”
Over 300 companies entered the EEF awards in 2010, 12 companies received an award or runners-up place and five apprentices were recognised.
The winners were:
Foster Refrigerator – Winner of Winners, sponsored by Infor
Accrol Papers (toilet and tissue paper) – Business Growth Award, sponsored by Westfield Health
DavyMarkham (heavy steel) – Skills Award, sponsored by Westfield Health
Assa Abloy (locks and security) – Innovative Working Practices Award, sponsored by JAM
Carl Zeiss (telescopes) – Innovative People Practices Award, sponsored by JAM
Foster Refrigerator – The Environmental Efficiency Award, sponsored by British Gas Business
Diodes Zetex Semiconductors (electronics) – Climate change Opportunity Award, Sponsored by British Gas Business
Mark Empson, an apprentice at Cobham and Alan Maguire, an apprentice at BAE Systems won the Outstanding Achievement by a first and third year apprentice awards respectively. The award was sponsored by sponsored by EAL.
Over 300 companies entered the awards.