Hear from the winners of Small Business of the Year at the Staffordshire Chamber Awards 2018!
Access Covers Ltd, based at Towers Business Park, Rugeley, has won the Small Business of the Year category for the Staffordshire Chambers’ 2018 Business Awards.
The firm was set up by employees of the now defunct Aquacast, which went into administration in 2015, putting 12 jobs at risk.
John Tudor, aged 55, joined Aquacast in 2015 and was left facing redundancy just six weeks later.
In an unusual turn of events, the administrator offered John and his colleague Jon Turner the chance to buy the company as an asset - providing all current employees kept their jobs - and Access Covers was born in November that year.
Mr Tudor said: “When the old company collapsed, some of the guys that could have just said no and taken the 10-year redundancy said they wanted to get stuck in with us.
“It’s a real phoenix from the ashes story. We started with 12 staff, no offices, no funding and no bank account. We now have 21 staff (three apprentices), and in the first year we had a turnover of £1.1m, and we are on track for £1.8m this year.”
Mr Tudor said the business’ success was heavily aided by support from the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Growth Hub, which is sponsoring the Small Business of the Year award, and the Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce.
He added: “We spoke to a Growth Hub advisor, who told us we were doing everything right. That was really re-assuring to hear. We began with out-dated equipment and technology and it became clear we needed to upgrade to a plasma cutting system, so we applied for grant funding through the Growth Hub in 2016. It was easy because if we were unsure of anything we could just call and get help.”
The £25,000 grant from the Jobs and Growth Fund helped pay for the £120,000 plasma cutter, which has allowed the company to create bespoke products and land a contract with Harrods.
Three months ago Access Covers applied for a £9,980 Small Business Grant for server hardware for business process management software.
Mr Tudor added: “It’s refreshing to see all these groups like the Growth Hub and the chamber supporting businesses.
“We are now watching developments with the Rugeley Power Station site closely, as we will eventually be looking for larger premises. Rugeley is very under the radar in terms of business potential, but it’s a fantastic location, with great access to Birmingham and the motorway, so we’d like to continue to invest in the area.”
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