2015 Award Winners Blog Posts

Winner Best Website - Orange Tree Theatre, Richmond - Sarah Nicholson, Executive Director

Please could you briefly explain what your business does?

The Orange Tree Theatre is a registered charity (number 266128), Richmond’s only producing theatre, and London’s only permanent theatre-in-the-round.  We produce new work and neglected plays of outstanding quality.  In 2015, we were awarded 9 industry awards for our work, attracted 50,000 audience members to Richmond, performed to 20,000 across England, and worked with 10,000 young people in Richmond and the surrounding boroughs.

What does it mean to be a part of the Chamber and Richmond Business Awards?

Anne and the Chamber have always been very supportive of the Orange Tree and in particular at making connections and introducing us to new people in the local business community.  Last year, the OT won Best Website at the Business Awards, an accolade that helped to promote the Theatre and a welcome recognition for the team who had worked tirelessly to improve our presence online.

What is special about the business community in Richmond borough? Category specific: 

Why did  you sponsor the Best …..category? 

The Richmond business community is incredibly diverse, and perhaps thanks in part to the diversity, extremely supportive of each other. The Chamber plays a key role in fostering a supportive community through initiatives such as its mentoring programme and the annual Awards.   As a relatively small independent business (speaking as a close neighbour to international technology companies) and as a charity, we are proud to play our part in the community, and as a Chamber member.

Did you enjoy the Gala evening at the RFU last year?

Our Executive and Development Directors enjoyed a wonderful evening attending the Awards dinner at Twickenham stadium last year!  Not only was it a great surprise to win an award, but we very much enjoyed spending the evening with everyone on our table – friends old and new – and the atmosphere was one of excitement and fun.  It was a fantastic way to celebrate some of the great achievements of Richmond’s businesses in the past year.


Highly Commended Best Charity/Social Enterprise - United Response

We’re absolutely thrilled to have been awarded Highly Commended in the Best Charity/Social Enterprise category at the Richmond Business Awards 2015. It is a huge achievement and wonderful recognition of the hard-work of our dedicated staff.

The real benefit is the boost it will give to the people we support. United Response is a national disability charity working with people with learning disabilities, mental health needs and physical disabilities. In Richmond, as part of our supported services and outreach programmes, we run over 20 social enterprises and activity groups. Each group is set-up, co-run and led by the people we support.

Garden Gnomes, the social enterprise which achieved the commendation, consists of a team of multi-skilled horticulture enthusiasts, who offer an assortment of gardening services to a diverse mix of organisations and the public throughout Richmond. Currently they are known within the disability network, but this award will allow different audiences to hear about the Garden Gnomes and what United Response has to offer.

From small seeds, Richmond’s Garden Gnomes has grown into a thriving business that maintains gardens in the local community and provides real paid employment opportunities to young adults with a learning disability. As an organisation, our strengths lie in delivering meaningful work placements. This award shows that the hard work of everyone involved in our social enterprises has not gone unnoticed. It has given us greater confidence in continuing to develop more projects along the same vein.

The Garden Gnomes are extremely happy with their achievement and the award has given them an extra drive to continue their hard work. All those involved have seen their self-esteem and self-worth grow, all while developing work skills, which have allowed many members of the team to secure paid jobs.

The Garden Gnomes have become an important and valued part of their community whilst maintaining the gardens of libraries, day centres, supported living services and private residencies throughout the borough. We hope to spread the word about United Response’s work in Richmond, with the aim of extending our reach to more people and identifying local businesses who might be interested in employing some of the people we support. With this award, our social enterprises will have an even greater professional reputation within the area and in turn this could lead to future business.

We certainly plan on entering next year’s awards, with the hope of building on our success, and we have a few exciting initiatives in the pipeline.


Winner Best Customer Service - The Maris Practice

We were thrilled to win the Best Customer Service category at the recent 2015 Richmond Business Awards held in November 2016. Customer service is the bedrock upon which our business is based and the whole team were overjoyed and extremely grateful to have their success recognised.

We have proudly placed our awards within our reception area for our patients to see. This has been great as we receive vocally more positive feedback and recognition for this. Through this and word of mouth, benefited our business.

The decision to enter the awards proved very useful, as we decided to review all aspects of our business as part of the entry process. The outcome of that process was that, firstly, it enabled us to clearly define, and detail, what we do well and secondly, also required us to identify areas which we considered still need improvement to match our strengths elsewhere. Finally, it provided an opportunity to consider, and then introduce, changes in the way we work to provide positive benefits to our customers ,and also, where possible, to our team.

All of us work very hard to achieve, and maintain, outstanding customer service and having an external independent body appraise our protocols, values and work ethic and deem them to be the Best in our category was a great stamp of approval!

Our customers were equally delighted for us to receive this award, and continue to enjoy the assistance and support we offer. This public recognition in 2015/2016 now will act as an incentive, to the whole team, to push us on to continue to achieve this excellence against this bench mark.

Finally we always aim to offer the services that our customers want and we will strive to maintain our high levels of customer support across all our current and future activities. Event’s coming up for us will be at ‘The bear cat 10k run’, we will be hosting a ‘pop up’ Maris Practice with onsite osteopaths and sports therapists giving massages to treat participants. This is an example of one of the great ‘giving back’ community event’s we have coming up. We are really looking forward to what else this year has in store for us!


Winner Best Training and Development - Hanover Recruitment

It was great to win the Best Training & Development Award at The Richmond Business Awards last year. That makes it two years in a row for us! It was such a pleasure to receive the award because we work very hard to support our employees with innovative and inclusive internal training in order to promote career progression. The award definitely benefits our organisation by showing that we are supportive in encouraging our employee’s professional development and the award has inspired us to now seek an accreditation from Investors In People.


Commended Best Exporter and Highly Commended Best Business for Innovation - Minesoft - Ann Chapman, Co Founder & Director

We were shortlisted for two Richmond Business Awards in 2015 – Best Exporter and Best Business for Innovation – and we were thrilled to receive a Commended and Highly Commended Award respectively in those categories. Minesoft has been in business in Richmond Borough since Ann Chapman and husband Ophir Daniel set up the company over 17 years and it was great to receive this recognition as a local enterprise. We have a close-knit though widely spread – both geographically and culturally – team of dedicated, multilingual staff who drive forward sales and new product development with energy and passion.

Although well-established and respected within our industry, Minesoft is little known by the general public because our software-based products and services lie in the highly specialised area of patent documents and searchable patent data, covering all fields of science and developing technologies. We create a massive database of published patent documents, covering European, US, Japanese and Chinese patents and many more countries, which contain the world’s scientific and engineering-oriented innovative ideas in detail. We are known in our niche area of business internationally and it is very satisfying to be recognised at home, in the UK and in our local Borough, where all our products and services are dreamt up and created.

Minesoft develops software and technology solutions to drive innovation, providing organisations with insights into trends and competitors through patent information. We have extensive experience in working with large collections of complex data to create innovative patent search tools and other Intellectual Property information services. We have a highly-skilled in-house development team who work closely with product development managers to build innovative solutions that make it easier to research, analyse and monitor new inventions published globally. Despite our modest size in comparison to far larger established players in the industry such as Thomson Reuters, we have a very strong foothold in the Intellectual Property information marketplace and we have the freedom to innovate and respond more quickly to evolving customer needs. Being highly commended in the Best Business for Innovation category in 2015 was welcome recognition of our ongoing quest to build innovative software solutions to further innovation here and abroad.

Almost 90% of Minesoft’s annual revenue is generated outside the United Kingdom, with a client base ranging from very large corporations who invest heavily in Research and Development to single inventors looking to protect their inventions. Fast overseas growth and success earned Minesoft a prestigious Queen’s Award for Enterprise in International Trade in 2009 and again in 2015. In 2014 we received the Best Exporter Award at the Richmond Business Awards in further recognition of this success, and the commendation in 2015 acknowledges our strong and growing presence in overseas markets.

We look forward to increasing business inside and outside the UK in 2016, as well as broadening our services with exciting new chemical information products. We will continue to play an active role in Richmond Chamber of Commerce, which offers excellent networking, business training and mentoring opportunities for local


Winner Best Business for Innovation - Foehn - Rafael Cortes, Head of Marketing

 

What it feels like to have won

We were pleased enough to be Highly Commended as Best Business in 2014, but to pick up three awards in 2015 is fantastic.  Once again we are delighted to be recognised as one of the Best Businesses in Richmond and we are thrilled also to be regarded as the most Innovative Business as well as having an outstanding website which we’re extremely proud of.

How it will benefit your business

The awards we’ve won certainly help us to showcase our company in and around the Richmond area but also much farther afield.  We have local customers and the awards are further endorsement that they are partnered with a ‘Best of Richmond’ company.  And if other local companies see what we are achieving and are looking to improve their business communications system, then pick up the phone to Foehn!

We also have many other customers throughout the UK and even if they are in, say, Scotland or Wales, it’s good for them to know they are being supported by an award-winning business.

What you have learnt about your strengths having entered 

When you’re preparing an award submission, you have to be honest with yourself about what you think you’re good at, so we went for categories that we felt best suited our strengths.  We believe we’re a good all rounder, a business that balances revenue growth and profitability with transparency, fairness and good customer service.   Our customer-focused ethos is very much part of this approach and our people play a massive role in making sure that we are technically ahead of the game, as well as being innovative and forward-thinking.  Picking up the Best Innovative business award was especially gratifying because it really does sum us up in our sector – breaking boundaries.

How it has impacted the team 

The awards we’ve won recognise the talent, knowledge, skills and dedication of every single team member at Foehn and so we’re all delighted with that recognition.   Our Best Business Innovator Award and our Awards certificates are all prominently displayed in our breakout area as a reminder of the team’s achievements.

How others outside view you

We know customers see us as telephony innovators that challenge the status quo. When we speak with our customers, we understand what sets us apart from competitors more and more. We are perceived to be a company that says yes to technological innovation and always looks to exceed customer expectations and achieve customer delight. We may not be the biggest, but we are fast and try to break the boundaries with what’s possible with business telephony technology.

Will you be entering the Awards 2016

Surpassing three awards will be a tough act to follow in 2016, but we will most certainly enter again and will probably have our eyes on a couple of other categories.

What exciting ventures you have coming up

We’re heading into 2016 with some really exciting new products that we’ve been designing and developing in 2015.   Our approach is not to simply come up with new ideas that we think might fly, but rather look at how the world of business and commerce is changing and then focus on very real needs in the future.  The way that people interact with businesses and other organisations, such as public sector bodies, is evolving all the time, especially as technology advances.  Being a communications business, we’re also to some extent futurologists, anticipating, analyzing and forecasting future trends.  Watch this space!

www.foehn.co.uk

For further information about business telephony, visit Foehn


Winner Best New Start-Up - Brilliant Play Solutions, Claire Chapman

What it feels like to have won?
Setting up and running any new business is seriously hard work so we were absolutely thrilled to have this acknowledged in winning this award. After being commended in the ‘Best Charity/Social enterprise’ category last year this shows that the blend of business and charitable objectives that is social enterprise works!
How it will benefit your business or non profit organisation?
Winning this award will really benefit our organisation as it will give us greater exposure and gives potential business partners and customers confidence that they are dealing with a high quality organisation.
What you have learnt about your strengths having entered?
We have learnt that all our hard work and determination to establish ourselves as a leading provider of high quality play services has paid off.  Starting a business involves some steep learning curves and the ability to remain motivated and optimistic in the face of various challenges has benefited us greatly.
How it has impacted the team?
The team are of course delighted and are very proud of this group achievement. If it wasn’t for everybody’s hard work we wouldn’t be in the position we are now. I would like to thank them again now for their loyalty and dependability.
How others outside view you?
Winning this award will be a good indicator to others that although we are focused on ‘play’ we do actually mean ‘business’ too! We are passionate about making high quality play environments accessible to all families whether it is in their local park, in the school playground, at their local children’s centre or even on their own street! Being endorsed by the Chamber of Commerce has highlighted our ability to do this in a sustainable way.
Will you be entering the Awards 2016?
Absolutely!
What exciting ventures you have coming up?
We are continuing to grow our services in and will be offering new sessions as well as embarking on new partnerships in 2016. We have several grant applications in for some exciting community based play projects – pending the outcomes you will see our team offering play services in local communities soon!


Winner Best Charity or Social Enterprise 2015 - Richmond Borough Mind, Val Farmer, Chief Executive

Richmond Borough Mind (RBMind) is thrilled to have been awarded Best Charity award by Richmond CVS and we are hugely grateful to both RCVS for sponsoring this award and for the Chamber for the work it does to recognise the importance of the local voluntary sector.

The award will help us demonstrate the quality and impact of our services to the local public and businesses, and give our ‘Charity of the Year’ sponsors: Sainsbury’s Manor Circus and Gap, a fantastic pat on the back for helping us to provide those services. It should also help us attract new trustees who will want to come and be part of such a worthwhile organisation, knowing that they will be contributing to an organisation that makes a difference to over 3000 people every year, either impacted themselves by mental health problems or their family and friends.

While we have provided services such as counselling, support for carers, and activities for adults with mental health problems for over 50 years, our new Mindkit project, for which we have won this award, is our first project focussing on young people. Most mental health problems will be established before the age of 24, and so in providing awareness and wellbeing sessions for young people aged 14-25 this project is helping young people to get help earlier. We also recruit young people with lived experience to deliver the sessions which really helps their personal and professional development and reduces the stigma. The volunteers are delighted to have their work recognised in this way.

We know 1 in 10 children will have a diagnosable mental health problem. 1 in 4 people will have mental health problems as adults, and 1 in 100 will have severe and enduring problems such as psychosis or severe depression. Suicide is the highest killer men under the age of 50. The earlier a problem is supported the less severe the impact may be on the young person, their family and friends in later life.

The initial wellbeing sessions have been offered into schools and have been very well received. Some of our volunteers met with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge recently who were impressed by the scope and impact this project has on young people. Over the coming months the team are developing more specialised workshops to deal with self harm, eating disorders and exam stress.

Like all charities, RBMind is finds it increasingly difficult to attract sufficient funding for all of our activities. We would very much like to work more closely with local businesses which could offer us specialist volunteer support in HR or IT or project management, or the myriad activities it takes to run our organisation. We would also love to hear from local businesses who may consider having us as their charity of the year. We have lots of fun ideas on how they can raise funds and team build at the same time. In return we can offer training in mental health awareness, or stress reduction through relaxation. As we build our training offer this could also help earn us money to help us to maintain our services. I hope this award will make us more visible to local business and we would be delighted to hear from anyone interested in how we may be able to work with them.

We are delighted that the award gives us the chance to widen awareness in the borough of the work we do. Applying for the award, and winning, has really helped boost confidence in our ability to show what we can do. We will be back to demonstrate more at the 2016 awards!


Winner Best Professional Practice 2015 - Tech Division Ltd, Mark Lilleyman, Managing Director

 

When my name was called out for the award of ‘Best Professional Practice’, I couldn’t believe it.  It brought home to me a real sense of accomplishment: starting a business is one of the hardest things I’ve ever faced.

Running a micro-business is difficult, mainly because you’re the ‘jack of all trades’.  You’re the marketing guru, the business strategy expert, and oh yes – the bins need emptying too.  Growing a micro-business in the headwinds of the recession is even more difficult.  The problems of obtaining finance are still there, and even customers with cash reserves have been very careful in how they spend it.  So every penny needs to be justified; no contract is ‘in the bag’ until the paperwork is signed – and that takes much longer than it used to.

This isn’t just my perspective – we provide IT support to small networks of up to 30 users, so the vast majority of my customers are micro-businesses, and they all reported the same problems.  A construction recession would cause problems for people in the building trade, but a financial recession affects EVERYONE.

From talking about this I’ve seen for myself how tightly the local business community in Richmond binds together.  The Chamber of Commerce does a great job of bringing entrepreneurs from completely different businesses together, allowing them to network and share common ideas and work through common problems.  As I say, we smaller types need all the help we can give each other.

So to be awarded this prize was a real validation – and the greatest surprise has been the reaction of our customers.  They have reacted in a really heart-warming and positive manner. In addition, our engineers Adam and Harry see it as a great validation of their work, a ‘job well done’.  They naturally take more pride in their job – being part of a successful organisation is great for morale.  They still don’t like the uniform, though.  Well, sorry lads, but you can’t have everything.

We intend to use this award, and the goodwill from our customers, as our base to grow.  Richmond’s a wonderful place to start a business – with the river and parks, Heathrow nearby, and the city a short train ride away, it’s in an enviable position, and no wonder that many hi-tech companies are interested in setting up base here.  Personally, my next venture will be to launch a new dot-com.  Cloud for Me (cloudforme.com) will concentrate on providing ‘cloud-based’ (i.e. Internet-based) services for individual users and small business owners.  Already I have smartphone-controlled central heating in my house, where I can warm the house up before I get home. An entrepreneur can set up a video-conferencing session with a large corporation from her spare room, or run a global workforce consisting of 3 people connected via Skype and a shared workspace.  The ability to be ‘instantly global’ has never happened before – and with the forthcoming revolution in smart appliances and smart health monitoring technology (the Apple Watch being the most famous example), the era of Cloud Computing and mobile devices is here to stay.

I would definitely recommend that people enter the business awards for next year.  Just filling in the entry form makes you think about your business from an external perspective, and too many entrepreneurs spend too much time working ‘in’ their business rather than ‘on’ it.  And if you win – the rewards are truly unexpected.  A more motivated workforce, a realisation that in fact, you’re doing well.  And if that’s not an incentive to grow, then what is?


Winner Best Business 2015 - Butterworth Laboratories - David Hawkins, COO

  • What it feels like to have won:

We have worked hard over the last 40 to provide a successful and happy place of work providing good science and service to our clients.  As the company has grown we have been largely modest about our success and only really celebrated it internally.   Richmond has a flourishing business community with some great and successful companies; a fact made only too apparent at the Business Awards themselves.  To win Best Business in the face of such competition is an honour and provides great encouragement to all who work at Butterworth’s to continue the good work.

  • How it will benefit your business or non profit organisation:

This award provides our staff with the recognition of their hard work and dedication they deserve.  This will help inspire us to continue our success and maintain the high levels of service which our clients have become accustomed.

  • What you have learnt about your strengths having entered: 

Until we entered the award, we didn’t fully appreciate how far we have come; from being a small start-up located in Teddington High Street to the Company we are today.

  • How it has impacted the team:

This is a great moral booster for all of our staff.  Being told that they are a success from their management is one thing, but to be recognised by the wider business community is a far greater accolade.

  • How others outside view you:

There always seems to be misunderstanding by non-scientists about what goes on inside a chemistry lab.  People assume we are either a bunch of boffins with smoking test tubes or that we are a chemical manufacturing plant.  This couldn’t be further from the truth as anyone who has visited our laboratories will know.  Winning this award may change people’s perceptions of us and hopefully we will be seen a business that contributes to the common good by helping to ensure that the medicines everyday people take are safe.

  • Will you be entering the Awards 2016:

Yes.  This is the second year we have entered the awards and this year we sponsored the CSR category. The awards are a highlight of the year and is an opportunity for us to meet other local businesses and provides networking opportunities.

  • What exciting ventures you have coming up:

We are currently planning to redevelop our site in Teddington.  The site has evolved organically over the years and the result is no longer the best design to adequately support our current operations and staff.  There is much to do with finalising the plans and specifying the finished laboratories which will accommodate us for at least the next 10 years.


2016 Sponsors Of Events & Classes Blog Posts

A business community second to none...

Does your business need to advertise what you offer across the borough of Richmond u Thames?

Or do you need to connect with the local business community, so as to make a difference to your business or the wider community?
Would you like to help other local businesses?
Or indeed would you like business mentoring yourself? Maybe you would like both – to be mentored and be a mentor…
Do you need to be plugged-in to the local Government or MPs or indeed political community such that any of your queries can be resolved quickly and efficiently?
What about sponsoring an event whereby your business and your offering is seen by over 5,000 businesses?
What about helping and having an impact on the local community also known as CSR Corporate Social Responsibility – is this something you would like to achieve?
Well we can help! Yes, an independent non profit and politically neutral group connecting over 5,000 businesses exists across the borough of Richmond u Thames – so from Barnes, Mortlake, Kew and Sheen to Richmond, Twickenham, Teddington and Hampton.
Our Richmond Chamber team connects the dots and create a genuine Voice of Business that you too can be a part of and make that difference to your business and the community.
With the local Richmond and Twickenham Times we also offer local businesses the opportunity to shine; the Richmond Business Awards – you too can enter, sponsor or join us on the evening –
As well as representing businesses, Richmond Chamber of Commerce promotes  business via our digital media and e-ads – so you too can benefit from this resource by joining us at https://www.richmondchamberofcommerce.co.uk/join-us/
To summarise we offer members:-
  • Advertising and sponsoring – marketing exposure of your business to over 5,000 local businesses, their directors and employees – 1 free ad per member value £150 plus VAT and registered charities 2 free ads worth £300 plus VAT
  • Mentoring – exceptional value with top class business mentor both one to one and group mentoring also know as, ‘The Board you cannot afford. ‘ Small businesses 12 hours of free mentoring
  • Do Business Locally – vibrant and themed events across the area
  • Masterclasses and Workshops – up-skill locally with our world class business professionals
  • CSR – dedicated package for your business
Regular weekly events mean that once you join the Chamber you too can enjoy subsidised rates and participate in a business network second to none across London in stunning local venues.
Most importantly you can be a part of the local business community and ‘give-back’ as well as benefit!
What could be better?
Why not hear all about it by clicking here and then click the link to  join our community! http://youtu.be/qInIB64_PRA

Anne Newton

CEO
Chamber of Commerce
Richmond u Thames – Barnes to Hampton Court  – the Richmond Borough