Best businesses in the borough honoured at prestigious awards

THE best businesses the borough has to offer were celebrated at a glittering ceremony for the 10th Oldham Business Awards.

The event saw around 600 guests fill out the Queen Elizabeth Hall on May 11 to find out who would take home this year’s accolades.

Comedian and impressionist Rory Bremner was host for the night, entertaining the business owners, staff and special guests who dressed to the nines for the evening.

Launched a decade ago, the awards celebrate the success and variety of Oldham’s business community, from commerce and industry to professional and the third-sector. 

The prestigious gongs are presented in 11 categories to mark their achievements, as well as a Special Recognition Award which is kept a secret until the night.

This year’s winner was Dave Benstead, who is HR Director at Chadderton-based Diodes as well as being heavily involved with numerous groups and charities across the borough.

He is also chairman of the Oldham Enterprise Trust, which under his guidance has grown to support more than 100 businesses with grants and loans and created nearly 200 jobs.

And he celebrated double delight on the night as Diodes were named as Business of the Year Turnover > £10m.

The Chadderton-based company, which employs 350 staff, is a leading global manufacturer and supplier of semiconductors.

It serves consumer electronics, computing, communications, industrial and automotive markets around the world, and boasts offices in American, Germany and Taiwan.

The award is a silver lining after they recently announced they had achieved a milestone of sales of £1billion.

Business of the Year Turnover £5m-£10m was awarded to JA Harrison and Co, a family-run business which supplies gaskets, seals, flat and corrugated steel rings worldwide.

The family recently moved their business back from Manchester to a new state-of-the-art production hub at Greengate Industrial Estate, Chadderton.

Led by chairman Alan Shepherd, 81, they employ 86 staff across factories here and in Cardiff, Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Australia, and suppy prestigious brands such as Rolls Royce, Vauxhall, Siemens, British Gas, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons and the NHS.

Managing director Linda Lewis (left) and Natalie White from Linda Lewis Kitchens

Meanwhile, Linda Lewis Kitchens were the flavour of the night as they took home the Business of the Year Turnover £1m-£5m award.

It follows their success from last year when they claimed the Supporting Young People award for dedication to staff development and training.

The company was established in 2006 by strong-minded business woman Linda Lewis and specialises in the import of the highest quality, Italian manufactured catering equipment. 

Determined to help her customers succeed, Linda made sure everything she brought to the UK had been built to the highest standard for longevity and reliability.  

In 2010, Linda made a real impact to the UK pizza market when she landed sole rights to Italian pizza oven brand Cuppone, and then started to emerge as the industry’s pizza specialists. 

In the past 18 months, LLK moved to new premises and launched a demonstration kitchen where customers can come to trial equipment prior to purchasing with the brand’s head chef Fabio, who has worked in various restaurants around the world.  

LLK also launched a devoted service and spares department which is on hand to help customers in the North West England and North Wales.

This year LLK smashed their £2.3 million target – a record high for the company – and is already on course to achieve this financial year’s £3 million Target.

Linda, who won Oldham Business Woman of the Year in 2013, said: “We’ve got a fantastic team who are passionate about everything they do. 

“This award is the cherry on top of a fabulous year.”

Remedian IT Solutions

There were special celebrations for Remedian IT Solutions as they were named Business of the Year Turnover < £1m in the same month as they celebrate their own tenth anniversary.

Growing from a modest start-up business with just two directors, the company has flourished into a team of 14 who pride themselves on excellent customer service and market leading solutions. 

Richard Clayworth, Business Development Manager, said: “For us to win this award is amazing.

“We’ve grown tremendously over the last 10 years and it’s all because of our ethos: providing outstanding customer service.

“Our team is special – they keep the focus on our customers and how we can best serve them. 

“We want to kick on from this now and continue to develop, helping Oldham and the surrounding communities too, but never losing sight of our customers’ needs.”

Remedian IT Solutions support a diverse base of clients including Oldham Coliseum Theatre, Oldham Athletic Football Club, charities, education, industrial, financial and medical sectors and help them make the most of their IT with friendly, professional and pro-active services.

Oldham Chiropractic Clinic

Oldham Chiropractic Clinic proved team work really does pay off as they were awarded Employer of the Year.

The clinic, on Yorkshire Street, has been providing care to people from Oldham, Rochdale, Saddleworth, Ashton, Manchester and the surrounding areas for 25 years.

And at the heart of their success is their dedicated team, now made up of 17 chiropractors, massage therapists, and chiropractic assistants.

They pride themselves on looking after their team, putting emphasis on weekly coaching, strategy days, seminars and events to foster teamwork and keep up morale.

Sam Jobey, Practice Manager, said: “Taking the award this year is such a privilege and it’s all thanks to our amazing team! 

“Everything we do every day builds into what makes an amazing business and clinic for the community. 

“We work together to ensure our patients’ experience is enhanced and business ethos is optimised. 

“Continued investment into resources is ongoing to achieve growth, motivate the team as well as develop and educate the local community about the benefits of Chiropractic care. Teamwork is our backbone.”

Less than two years ago, Dream Big Sports did not exist but now they are an award-winning company after scooping the Young Business of the Year title.

Launched by Dillan O’Connor and Dale Harris, Dream Big Sports is a not-for-profit organisation providing sporting and educational opportunities for disadvantaged or deprived young people to help them achieve their dreams.

Dale played rugby for Oldham St Annes before his career was ended by two broken legs and Dillan, was a promising professional footballer with Blackpool FC’s academy before taking a scholarship in America.

They started the business together in 2016 and have flourished to now employ six coaches as they spread their reach far and wide.

Austin and Ruth Greene from Assure Certification

Assure Certification is also celebrating success early on in their business journey as they were presented with Start Up Business of the Year after only launching around 12 months ago.

Managing Director Austin Greene set up the company with his wife Ruth last March and initially ran the operation from home.

After expanding quickly, they moved to an office on Lees High Street last September and have already taken on extra staff to cope with demand.

Assure is one of just five UKAS-accredited Competent Persons Scheme authorised by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) in England and Wales.

Specialising in the glazing sector, they offer numerous services to both fabricators and installers such as NVQs, IBGS, energy ratings and product certification.

And they issue building compliance certificates to homeowners to give them peace of mind that their windows and doors have been installed to comply with Building Regulations.

Austin, delighted to win the award, said: “It was quite a surprise to win so soon and especially as our company is so niche. 

“I entered as I thought ‘why not, we have nothing to lose’!”

There was an individual accolade for Ansar Ali, who was named Business Person of the Year.

The 37-year-old is Director and Strategic Marketing Consultant at dsgnuk ltd, which helps companies around the world with their brand design, marketing and communication.

The award recognised his recent hard work to boost client numbers and secure important contracts, as well as designing and developing material for campaigns in London and America.

Meanwhile, the Young Entrepreneur crown went to flourishing businessman Eric Bishyika for the second year in a row.

Eric, 21, used money from his paper round to launch his own business – SW Clothing – aged just 13 years old while he was still at school.

He has gone on to win a number of awards and featured on BBC News and Channel 4.

SW Clothing is a bespoke fashion brand that sells all types of unique designs for men and women, including t-shirts, hoodies, dresses, playsuits, socks, shorts, hats and more.

Their stock is sold completely online but the popular business has a base at the Chambers Business Centre in Oldham, employing five staff.

The next generation is at the heart of everything Channing Childcare has been doing for over 25 years so it’s no surprise they received the Supporting Young People award.

The company was born in 1989 when former English teacher Catherine Hoggard opened for the first time to look after just six children.

Over the years, the company has flourished to employ 129 staff at six nurseries in Newhey, Royton, Werneth, Chadderton, Rochdale and Middleton.

They offer expert and dedicated care for around 420 babies, toddlers and pre-school children.

This award is highly significant to Channings Childcare, who are highly committed to the development of young staff members.

Afruj Chowdhury (centre) with Juned Ahmed (left) and Musa Rahman (right) from Safeguard Fusion

Meanwhile, “hope is always there” smiled happy Afruj Choudhury after Safeguard Fusion served up victory by winning the Community Engagement Award.

“We were finalists last year so we felt we were strong candidates,” explained Afruj, executive chef director of the innovative Chadderton-based company.

“We want to take the message to more people that eating healthily can help tackle obesity and diabetes. We are also passionate about inspiring more people to come into cooking.”

As a result, Safeguard Fusion is the first establishment of its kind to offer a diploma and training courses for curry chefs.

Safeguard Fusion’s courses aren’t restricted exclusively to traditional ‘Indian’ cuisine but as the name suggests blends other Asian, English and Mexican ingredients and flavours. 

“The journey towards the project accomplishment and subsequently towards this award was not easy,” added Afruj who works with business partner, Ben Ingham.

“Right from the moment when the idea of cookery school was conceived to the outline of the project which was initiated later on and until today, a lot of work has been done.”

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