Winning the Ward Hadaway Fastest 50 in 2013 “has made people believe”, according to last year’s victorious company, SMH Products.
As the countdown continues to this year’s definitive list of the fastest growing companies in the North-East, the reigning Fastest Growing North East Business is reflecting on the transformative effect that its win has had on the company.
Headquartered in South Shields with offices across the country, SMH Products is one of the UK’s leading producers of safety and decontamination protection equipment for workers in a range of hazardous environments.
The company has seen its business expand rapidly in recent years as it has extended its range from providing decontamination equipment for asbestos removal into other sectors including the nuclear, biological and construction industries and has expanded to provide training, servicing and testing.
But despite this, SMH Products commercial director Dean Rowe admits that winning the titles of Fastest Growing Medium-Sized Business and Fastest Growing North East Business last October came as something of a shock to the company.
Dean explained: “We went along to the awards not expecting to win anything so it was a big surprise when we were announced as winners. In the past, we had not gone out of our way to get publicity, we had just gone down our own path and done our own thing so this was recognition which we really didn’t expect.”
The Ward Hadaway Fastest 50 – devised and organised by law firm Ward Hadaway in association with The Journal – recognises and celebrates the achievements of profit-making private companies in the North East who have shown the most growth in turnover.
A list of the 50 fastest growing businesses is published in September with an awards event taking place in October at which awards are presented to the fastest growing small, medium-sized and large businesses with one of these being crowned the overall fastest growing business in the North East.
Dean Rowe explains that winning the awards last year marked something of a watershed moment for SMH Products.
He said: “Since winning the award, we have taken the opportunity to reassess how we approach the business and how we approach people who we do business with.
“Winning the Fastest 50 has improved our profile and given us a level of recognition for our achievements which we didn’t have before.
“We have used it as a way of promoting the business and it has been instrumental in us being able to open doors and speak to people who we didn’t previously approach.
“It has made people believe in us and what we are doing. There has been a big change in the directors and in the strategy for the business and winning the Fastest 50 has made people believe in this approach.”
SMH Products was not the sole winner in the 2013 Fastest 50 Awards. Hartlepool-based I Love Wallpaper won the fastest growing small business award after seeing rapid growth in sales of its wide range of wall coverings while the fastest growing large business award was won by px group of Stockton, which is active in a range of sectors including power, gas, fuel storage, waste, biofuel, renewable energy and petrochemicals, providing services from plant management to energy trading and engineering consultancy.
Colin Hewitt, partner and head of commercial at Ward Hadaway, said: “It is terrific to hear what a difference winning the Ward Hadaway Fastest 50 last year has made to SMH Products.
“This is exactly the kind of effect we have wanted the awards to have ever since we started the Fastest 50 in 1998 – to provide a platform to celebrate the achievements of companies across the North East and to promote the great work which they carry out.
“SMH’s experience demonstrates that the Fastest 50 has real standing in the business community and that being part of it can have a profound effect on a company.”
The A-Z list of this year’s Fastest 50 companies – compiled by independent researchers from St Chad’s College/Durham Business School - will appear in The Journal later this month.
Representatives from all 50 companies, alongside business leaders, will then be invited to an awards ceremony in October where the winners of the 2014 Fastest 50 Awards will be announced.