Managing Director of the Year Awards 2022

Managing Director Awards 2022 CAMRADATA: Investment Data Analytics MD of the Year 2022: Sean Thompson

2 | Managing Director of the Year Awards 2022 Welcome to the Managing Director of the Year Awards 2022 Currently in its first year, we at SME News are thrilled to host the Managing Director of the Year Awards 2022! Focusing on those at the forefront of businesses, we seek to shine a light on those who have shown true excellence in leadership, commitment, and determination more than ever over the past 12 months across the UK. After an uneasy couple of years, especially for those at the forefront the way businesses are run has changed and adapted to current times, proving the strength and versatility of UK Managing Directors, whether it be to accommodate the shift to working remotely to keeping their teams and clients safe with the everchanging rules and regulations. Sif Brookes | Senior Editor

Managing Director of the Year Awards 2022 | 3 Contents 4. Intoto International Ltd: Global Business Development MD of the Year 2022: Julie McLaughlan 6. Expert Pensions Limited: Best Online Learning MD 2022: Gayle Conway 8. CAMRADATA: Investment Data Analytics MD of the Year 2022: Sean Thompson 10. RS Security Services Limited: Best Security Guard Technology Director (Yorkshire): Richard Short 12. Purple Planet Packaging: Best Eco-Friendly Packaging Supply Director (West Midlands): Mark Farr 14. 3rd Pixel Ltd: Most Innovative Web Design MD (Scotland): Shaun Moat 15. Northside Truck & Van Ltd: Truck & Van Dealership MD of the Year (Northern England): Keith Sims 16. Laceeze: Sports Retail MD of the Year (South West England): Emma Burke 17. OX Seven Talent Partners: Best Staffing & Recruitment Business MD (East Midlands): Will Grashoff 18. Swipen: ePayments MD of the Year 2022: Fraser Mitchell 19. Crannis Technology Services Ltd: Electrical Contracting MD of the Year 2022 (South-West) & Mental Health Advocate of the Year: Ceri Crannis 20. RST GROUP: Leading Property Entrepreneur of the Year 2022: Ryan Thakrar 21. HAVi Technologies Ltd: Best Vibration Solutions MD 2022: Gregg Cole 22. Potential Unlocked: Most Empowering Children’s Tuition MD: David C. Hall 23. Evotra: Best Wealth Management Transformation MD 2022: Sally Merritt 24. Macleans of London Ltd: Equestrian MD of the Year 2022: Alex Maclean 25. The Craft Irish Whiskey Co: Luxury Beverages MD of the Year 2022: Ian Duignan 26. Cogsdill UK: Best Tooling & Machining MD 2022: Lee Donaldson 27. Rise Compliance Limited: Most Comprehensive Lift Installation Director (North East): Kris McGough 28. Evolution Sales Recruitment : Best Specialist Headhunting MD 2022: Adam Paine 29. Keystone Communications Ltd: Most Innovative PR MD 2022: Tracey Rushton-Thorpe 30. Tricolor : NPO Consulting MD of the Year 2022: Sarah Dowd 31. TrustedReviews Limited: Emerging Online Media MD of the Year 2022: Chris Dicker 32. New Homes Customer Care Ltd (“NHCC”) : Construction Customer Care Business Leader of the Year 2022: James Bush

4 | Managing Director of the Year Awards 2022 Mar22543 Global Business Development MD of the Year 2022: Julie McLaughlan Intoto International Ltd has been dominating the global business development scene for over a decade. Established in 2011 by the esteemed businesswoman, Julie McLaughlan, the company has grown from strength to strength. In 2022, the company boasts an international network of thousands of clients – and it is only set to grow. Over the course of 11 years, Intoto International Ltd, a UK based agency, has established a network of over 8,000 professional operators and brands worldwide. Supported by over three decades of international experience within franchising, licensing, joint ventures, and distribution, the agency benefits from a true understanding of a range of industries. Henceforth, Intoto International is a leading provider of advanced strategic and operational services and matchmaking brands with compatible franchise partners. Indeed, the agency firmly believes that operators should focus upon people, product, and profit, and that everything else is just for embellishment. Moreover, Intoto International increases clients’ sales, offers accurate information on the market’s legal system, import/export documentation, taxes, and provides expertise on international payment methods, and is equipped to provide exporting and market advice. Honing in on these elements allows Intoto International to assess such challenges, identify opportunities, and capitalise on them effectively. Through its associates, the agency provides clients with access to professional services including legal, operations, buying and merchandising, graphic design, architectural design, marketing, global human resource management, and recruitment. International clients have flocked to the agency, utilising it to expand the scope of their businesses. From sourcing franchise partners to securing shopping centre locations, Intoto International has a wealth of resources to offer to such clients. Therefore, the agency has worked with multiple household names and prestigious brands across a range of industries – including the cosmetics, home décor, and food industries. Dixy Chicken, David & Goliath, and the Iraq Chamber of Commerce have all enlisted Intoto International’s help and have benefitted greatly. Clients of this stature choose to work with the agency thanks to Intoto International’s devotion to understanding its clients and the arenas in which they operate. The agency works hard to identify the best fit for each company by utilising its experience to ensure compatibility on even the finest details. Furthermore, Intoto International recognises that one size does not fit all – its services are bespoke, catering towards each company’s unique values and ethics. There is no pressure for a client to fit into a mould, instead, Intoto International will take into consideration the company’s industry, home country, and goals. In addition, a great amount of this success can be attributed to Intoto International’s team. Consisting of highly motivated and skilled individuals, the team, which boasts a range of backgrounds, is built to deliver exceptional results. With a can-do attitude and a tenacious approach to work, the team serves clients in an enthusiastic manner – no challenge is too big or too small. There is a great passion for customer service that is infused within the team, and therefore, the team members thoroughly enjoy building a rapport with each customer. This is bolstered further by the seamless internal communications that are conducted in a way that it ensures efficacy. Leading the team is Julie McLaughlan, Intoto International’s founder, who has over 30 years of experience in retail and F&B both in the UK and abroad. Whilst living in the Middle East, Julie noticed the greater standard in brand representation, and this sparked the idea for Intoto International. Julie truly has worked her way from the bottom up, assisting over 50 brands with international expansion. Her impressive track record reflects her ability to cultivate solid results for brands within a range of industries. As of 2022, Julie is working towards a master’s degree in International Global Human Resource Management. Julie’s success is entwined with her leadership

Managing Director of the Year Awards 2022 | 5 Global Business Development MD of the Year 2022: Julie McLaughlan style, which is one of straight talking and measurable results. Via a combination of creativity and curiosity, Julie takes an innovative approach to reversing corporate inefficiencies through challenging traditional and overused methods. Subsequently, she applies a collaborative and team-oriented approach to decision-making, within which she values the suggestions and contributions of her colleagues. In turn, this has led to an empowered workforce that takes pride in its ability to work successfully as a team. After all, the best way to retain a strong team is by making them feel heard, appreciated, and as if their voice matters. Unsurprisingly, Julie and her team have led Intoto International to a high level of prestige. It has become enormously popular amongst its clients and has garnered a plethora of reviews and testimonials. For example, Gordon Macpherson, Managing Director, the retailer group, states ‘I worked with Julie and have kept in touch and a watching eye on her successful career moves over the years. In addition to being a first class operator with a steely determination. Julie is a great people manager and her infectious enthusiasm, knowledge beliefs and behaviours cascade through her teams. She has much to offer in terms of sector knowledge in the UK and internationally her technical and people skills are second to none.’ Contact: Julie McLaughlan Company: Intoto International Ltd Web Address:

6 | Managing Director of the Year Awards 2022 Mar22551 Best Online Learning MD 2022: Gayle Conway Technology lies at the heart of innovation. Expert Pensions Limited has capitalised upon this, using technology to bolster its mission – to improve financial services advice through the betterment of education. Indeed, the company provides online courses that support financial services professionals in passing their industry qualifications and developing their knowledge and skills. Serving as an online learning platform, Expert Pensions Limited assists financial services professionals in obtaining professional certifications and furthering their education. It strives to offer premium study resources that make exam preparation easier, more successful, and, ideally, more enjoyable. At its core, Expert Pensions’ objective is to improve financial services advice through improved education and development. In order to accomplish this, the company has been built upon a foundation of stringent core values – it places its customers at the centre of all it does, it endeavours to deliver above par service, and it is consistently finding new ways to cultivate a positive work environment. There are numerous courses available via the online portal, ranging from pensions, investment planning to personal taxation, supporting diploma and Advanced Diploma qualifications, all designed to support and promote professionalism in a regulated career sector. Training and development isn’t just important in Financial Services, it is vital. Professional development can help to ensure that our students deliver a professional service, enhance their career prospects and ensures that their knowledge is relevant, up to date and compliant with the latest regulations. With prices beginning at £49.00 and having free trials available, Expert Pensions Limited provides an affordable way for you to build upon your education. In addition, many of its courses boast a structured learning plan option and a revision option, making them suitable for people at any stage of the learning journey. Such courses can be incredibly beneficial to your financial career – they are official certifications that can be added to your CV that will not only make you appealing to employers, but they also keep your knowledge fresh and in keeping with the regulatory requirements. Expert Pensions creates meticulously planned study timetables, which serve as a clear roadmap for students, laying out each week and displaying the necessary resources required to pass the examinations. In addition, professional development is offered, which has been designed to aid students beyond passing an exam. The professional development service further improves the students’ skillsets, finding ways to improve their advice offering, client relations, and company support. Its courses are easy to navigate, motivating, and structured in a manner that keeps students engaged and excited about what comes next. Consequently, the aforementioned services have garnered consistent results. This is primarily due to the fact that Expert Pensions is truly passionate about what it does – it is home to experts within the field who have taken the exams themselves. Therefore, clients can expect to receive premium care. Indeed, Expert Pensions’ services are wholly client-centric, as it pushes to go above and beyond in order to deliver outstanding customer service. Unlike many education platforms, Expert Pensions is there throughout the learning process, providing an abundance of support, enthusiasm, and advice. It has elevated itself above its competition through building unbreakable bonds with its students, gaining a positive reputation along the way. Much of this success stems from the immense amount of work the team has put in to making the company thrive. The workforce consists of individuals that care about what they do – they are highly-skilled industry experts, of which many of whom have been in the students’ shoes previously. Expert Pensions has taken the time to formulate a team that is capable of working seamlessly and effectively through communication, collaborative working, and the simple fact that its staff enjoy their jobs. The prior point is an often-overlooked factor when building a team, as the clients and profits come first. However, Expert Pensions understands that by injecting joy into the team, positive customer service and success will come naturally and sustainably. The stars in the team are the founders of Expert Pensions, John and Linda Reynolds, who are passionate, caring, and hardworking. Caroline Evans, Expert Pensions’ Customer Engagement and Marketing expert, who brings a fantastic energy to the workplace, which then spreads throughout the team and is an absolute asset. The man behind video creation, John Hunter, who also serves as an IT specialist, is incredibly committed to his job, and is always searching for ways to benefit others – be it through new technology or problem solving. Of course, the company is home to a team of consultants who consistently provide unbeatable expertise and deliver innovative content. They are at the heart of what we do and they bring their wealth of expertise to the projects we undertake. However, without Gayle Conway, none of this would have been possible. After leaving school, Gayle took on a position at the Clydesdale Bank, and she never looked back. She developed a hunger for learning, and at the young age of 17, Gayle began the first of many banking and financial planning exams. As a result, she opened herself up to a plethora of opportunities. She moved quickly from customer services to a role as a mortgage adviser, which led to her becoming the assistant bank manager, and finally to financial planner. Each role brought a new range of exams and qualifications, challenges, and support. Yet it would be her next move where she would find her true calling. Joining the training team, Gayle gained her CITP accreditation in a role as a Senior Training and Development Consultant, where

Managing Director of the Year Awards 2022 | 7 Best Online Learning MD 2022: Gayle Conway she discovered her love for training and development. After having a child, she decided to explore running her own online business, which equipped her with the skills necessary for her role today at Expert Pensions. It is her approach to the role that sets her apart. Describing her style, Gayle comments ‘As a leader my job is to get the best from people to deliver a service which we can be proud of. I believe that anyone can do anything with the right support and guidance but also appreciate that everyone has different strengths. Allowing those strengths to be recognised and developed and directing them to the right tasks, enables us to deliver high quality learning, with fantastic customer service and with only a very small team.’ With Gayle as part of the team, the company is set for an incredibly bright future. Postpandemic, Expert Pensions has seen an increase in demand for its online services. Most recently, Expert Pensions has added to its services through the development of a specific Pension Transfer Specialist Knowledge Hub. This product has been created to provide insight, best practice, and technical refreshers to those working in this heavily regulated area of expertise. The aim is to maintain and enhance the knowledge and skills of PTS’s so they can deliver a professional service and best advice to their clients, their business, and the financial services industry. Contact: Gayle Conway Company: Expert Pensions Limited Web Address:

8 | Managing Director of the Year Awards 2022 Mar22445 Investment Data Analytics MD of the Year 2022: Sean Thompson Established within the investment fund industry sector, the operation of CAMRADATA provides clients with two primary brands – CAMRADATA Live, the company’s online asset manager research platform and Funds Europe, an investment magazine for asset managers and institutional investors. Led by accredited Investment Data Analytics MD of the Year, Managing Director Sean Thompson explains his success, role, and experience that is viewed as an integral factor in recognising CAMRADATA’s reputation. CAMRADATA, a company that offers two comprehensive services, such as CAMRADATA Live and Funds Europe, the business also supplies other publications such as Funds Global Asia, Funds Global MENA and Funds Tech, supporting those who are powering the global asset management industry. CAMRADATA Live, the company’s online asset manager research platform, provides independent investment data and analysis, connecting asset owners with the right asset managers. “We believe that all asset owners should have free access to global asset manager research (including information on ESG and D&I policies and processes) and investment thought leadership. This information needs to be clear, simple to understand and easy to view,” explains Sean. Moreover, to differentiate from competitors and surpass industry expectations – generating a snowballing effect of success, the company has added CAMRADATA Assisted Search Service. The aforementioned service is designed and provided to asset owners and investment consultants looking to create buy lists, assign mandates, or complete specific research across asset classes, generating opportunities for asset managers to win new business. Additionally, CAMRADATA Live is the only platform that provides this valuable and time-saving service to clients - for free. Expanding on the company’s efforts within the industry, Sean Thompson, Managing Director and most recently recognised as the Investment Data Analytics MD of the Year, states, “Our business is an influential and recognised brand providing manager research, performance and risk monitoring, peer reporting, thought leadership, editorial content, roundtables, webinars, business breakfasts across all the jurisdictions in which we serve.” For Sean, his role as Managing Director brings together both brands of the company – CAMRADATA Live and Funds Europe, helping to safeguard the efficacy of the business’s overall strategy and distribution in its particular focus areas. However, to do so effectively, the company was founded on three core values that reflect the business’s internal culture, motivation and guiding actions in decision making, such as simplicity, innovation and flexibility. CAMRADATA can break boundaries, push barriers, and create innovation for generations throughout the industry with these values. “I am not a Managing Director that shouts my name from the rooftop as I believe the success of a business is not purely down to one or two individuals. Instead, by being a leader, I steer the company and its employees, helping them learn, grow, and take responsibility to enable us to achieve the most profitable direction while implementing our business strategy and long-term goals,” states Sean. Sean has been within the industry for over 35 years, providing exceptional and one-of-a-kind expertise in the financial sectors, including investment consultancy, asset management, manager research and insurance. His journey began in 1986 when he left school after his A-Levels and joined a Lloyd’s Managing Agency. Like any success story, Sean started from the bottom as an Accounts Clerk and inevitably worked his way up to Manager of Syndicate Investments. After eight years, Sean joined a small asset management firm – working within various roles, including client relationships, business development and compliance. While he had several years of experience, his dedication, passion, and natural talent in the field led him to become Managing Director across several firms, including a role in investment consultancy and performance measurement. Soon after he joined CAMRADATA in 2011, it was inevitable that Sean moved up from Director to Managing Director in just three short years. Explaining his role and leadership style within the company, Sean adds, “As Managing Director, I am responsible for its direction and provide strategic guidance to the Board to ensure CAMRADATA achieves its key objectives. However, I believe it is important to be recognised as a positive leader who provides strong, clear leadership to the business. You should also always make individuals feel involved in the business and the direction it takes, encourage them and allow them to grow and develop in their roles which helps to create and sustain a culture of innovation and enablement.” Continuing from this point, Sean explains, “I do this by creating an open environment and a flat structure, which encourages communication and participation across our small business of 20 people. I ensure that all members of our company feel involved in the development of the business and the delivery of those objectives. I promote connection both inside and outside work, which

Managing Director of the Year Awards 2022 | 9 Investment Data Analytics MD of the Year 2022: Sean Thompson provides an environment where people work hard and have fun.” However, as many businesses have realised, the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic was unexpected and global. With that, several challenges across the globe and various industries and sectors have faced complex challenges due to the aftermath of Covid-19. As a small business, CAMRADATA was facing pressure to achieve company goals during this time. Still, with Sean leading his team of dedicated professionals, the company was agile enough to respond quickly to the changing environment. Sean adds to this, stating, “As a leader, I needed the business to become more digitally focused for it to be able to deliver on its aims and objectives. So technology was key, and we were quick to adapt, and this enabled us to provide those services that were previously delivered face to face virtually from two weeks after March lockdown in 2020.” For now, the goal of the company is inherently focused on the offerings of its CAMRADATA Live platform, with an aim for it to become a ‘one stop shop’ for investment research, asset manager searches and thought leadership, and for Funds Europe to be recognised as a Tier 1 publication in the fund’s industry. With his final thoughts, Sean ends the article, stating, “We will do our best to make this happen within the next three years!” As the industry’s Investment Data Analytics MD of the Year, Sean Thompson will undoubtedly achieve success for himself and the business. Company: CAMRADATA Name: Sean Thompson Email: Web Address:

10 | Managing Director of the Year Awards 2022 Mar22449 Best Security Guard Technology Director (Yorkshire): Richard Short RS Security Services Limited was created after an unfortunate injury forced founder, Richard Short, out of the police force. Many of his skills carried over into the new arena, subsequently instilling an abundance of respect, passion, and determination into the security firm. Indeed, be it responding to alarm calls or protecting residences, RS Security Services is proud to offer premium security solutions. RS Security Services Limited was founded in 2016 by Richard Short, a former police constable. Henceforth, infused in the company’s very foundation lies a fundamental value – respect. It values integrity, with its mission statement being, ‘Integrity In Every Step’ As such, RS Security Services upholds this through five core values; it will always deliver a premium service, it will always act in a manner which is beyond reproach, the company will create a hostile environment for criminality to operate within, to deliver an organisation that people aspire to join, and to endeavour to always support local people and local businesses in the area. In terms of what it offers, RS Security Services is especially unique. Indeed, the company boasts an alarm response and key holding service, with each alarm call being responded to by its Security Dog Section. The company trains in keeping with national standards with a range of awarding bodies – including NASDU (National Association of Security Dog Users), BIPDT (British Institute of Professional Dog Trainers), and NTIPDU (National Training Inspectorate for Professional Dog Users.) Its team of security dogs are trained to detect an intruder’s scent path and defend the handler should a criminal become combative. Of course, this means that the team – handlers especially – have to be highly professional, qualified, and devoted to their position within the company. Additionally, RS Security Services truly values each one of its staff members and works closely with anyone that hopes to join the business. When the company says ‘anyone,’ it means it. RS Security Services is bold in its opinion that everyone deserves the chance to get into work, so much so that the company is a Disability Confident Employer supported by its local Job Centre. The primary reason behind why the company takes this approach is found within its founder’s backstory. Richard Short joined Humberside Police in 2002, predominantly working within 999 response teams, and for over a decade he fought to make the streets safer. Furthermore, Richard established a range of specialist skills and had the opportunity to police historic events, such as the 2011 riots and the 2012 London Olympics. After facing an industrial accident, Richard was forced to retire from the police force, which led to the creation of RS Security Services in 2016. His experiences within the police force wholly shaped his business model. In fact, Richard even opted to undertake coaching, in which he learnt how to place his skillset into the private sector and forge relationships with clients. Consequently, Richard has been equipped with skills that allow him to run a competitive and compliant business. Noting that he sees himself as ‘a leader not a manager,’ he credits this viewpoint to the police force, adding ‘The police taught me a lot of skills and [one] of those was how not to manage people.’ Richard can often be found working on the front line of the business, taking part in risky and sometimes dangerous projects. Therefore, Richard has cultivated a team that trusts in him. One that is willing to follow him into any situation. It was imperative that the team maintain this trust, creating a near-familial bond. In turn, Richard ensures that the team receives a healthy work-life balance, support, and a wealth of benefits. When asked what advice he would give to someone hoping to emulate his success, Richard commented, ‘Be ethical in your business, deliver on your promises and try to exceed them. Clients appreciate honesty and rationale. I meet every client we have, and they have my telephone number. If they need to talk, we talk. Businesses can become too big to care and become corporate monsters. That is not the framework clients wish to operate within. My personal approach under pins our 5 core values daily.’ Unsurprisingly, the company has a successful year ahead. In 2022, it has plans to extend its work further into the events sector, building an entire division responsible for managing this area. It has already secured numerous clients, and, in the space of eight months, the expansion has pushed its team to 75 members. Meanwhile, Richard also hopes to continue investing locally in corporate training and upskilling the local area. Contact: Richard Short Company: RS Security Services Limited Web Address:

Managing Director of the Year Awards 2022 | 11 Best Security Guard Technology Director (Yorkshire): Richard Short

12 | Managing Director of the Year Awards 2022 Mar22541 Best Eco-Friendly Packaging Supply Director (West Midlands): Mark Farr Purple Planet Packaging, an eco-friendly packaging company with a dedication to gathering the best in biodegradable packaging under one roof, has made a name for itself with its continual commitment to client and environment. Hoping to help the disposable food packaging industry buck the need for petroleum-based containers completely, this company offers totally ecologically friendly, customisable, and bulk order cartons, gathering the best products on the market in order to make itself a lifelong friend to its clients’ companies. Turned into the company it is today by husband-and-wife team Mark and Joanna Farr, Purple Planet Packaging was acquired by the duo in 2019, with the goal of using it to change their own lives and the lives of others. Fundamentally, the acquisition of the business allowed them to make critical lifestyle changes that allowed them better work/life balance when raising their growing young family, and so the company itself has come to reflect a familial ethos, with the couple infusing each business decision with care and trust. Once based in Devon, the business now operates out of Coventry in the West Midlands, but is still one of the UK’s leading environmentally friendly packaging supply specialists. Nominally, its status as a fully independent company has only helped it when it comes to securing this reputation, as it works hard to offer over 400 certified compostable products under one roof, allowing clients to use it as a onestop-shop when it comes to ecologically friendly packaging. Serving worldwide companies and businesses, it works freely with the international community’s leading specialist eco-friendly packaging manufacturers in the UK and further afield, able to gather the best of the best into its stock rooms as a result. It can recommend the most appropriate products without bias because of this. Therefore, a client can always trust that its recommendations are being made with their best interests in mind, uninteresting in upselling a client on something that could be achieved by something cheaper. It is also dedicated to the source and supply of products not necessarily contained within its stock house at present. No matter what a client requires, no matter how strict the specifications and needs, it will always go above and beyond to source, secure, and supply this to them at the lowest costs possible, passing all savings back to the client. Confident in the quality of its products and encouraging clients to consider the added benefit behind eco-friendly and biodegradable packaging, it is pleased to see that leading from the front alongside other members of its peer group has further bolstered its sector. Critically, ecologically responsible packaging and consumer activities is becoming more and more important to the end customer – as it should be – and it strives to continue working hard in serving this changing paradigm, allowing access to plant-based products made from annually renewable plant crops with corn, sugarcane, and potatoes. The waste materials from these crops such as the natural starch produced from corn, the fibres from sugarcane, and other biomass, can all be

Managing Director of the Year Awards 2022 | 13 Best Eco-Friendly Packaging Supply Director (West Midlands): Mark Farr used for packaging, and are great alternatives to conventional, petroleum-based plastics. 100% compostable, it has been recognised by authorities such as OK Compost by Vincotte and The Biodegradable Product Institute, ensuring it continues to develop a reputation for excellence that its clients can rely on due to its accrued favour with third party boards. This oversight ensures that no client must simply take its word for it, and that it can direct them to its vast accreditations and recognitions list should they wish to see the ‘proof in the pudding’. Its packaging can be disposed of alongside general food waste, ensuring that after use, it decomposes back into general use natural compost after 12 weeks at an approved facility. Stocking the best range of compostable catering disposables in the UK, it also makes itself a front runner in the aesthetic production of these cartons. Able to custom-print them together with a comprehensive, custom-printing bespoke packaging design service, it makes its products fit a wide range of briefs, companies, and events, in order to ensure a client can deliver food in a way that suits them. Additionally, Purple Planet Packaging benefits from being able to order all its eco-friendly packaging solutions from one place, with no need to contact numerous suppliers and factories, meaning a customer only ever receives one invoice. With the buying power that Purple Planet Packaging wields, it can broker incredible deals with its suppliers that allow for a more sustainable wholesale that is better for both the environment and the client’s wallet, both things that its customers have come to appreciate. Thus, its market segment has lauded its efforts as second-to-none ever since its founding, and due to this, it works in the best way, with the best people, for the best people. Dedicated to these tenants of quality, eco-credentials, practicality, aesthetics, and function, it implements a strict process of quality control and elimination that every product must go through, selecting the finest products in order to form its ‘eco-chic’ range. All its manufacturers, as a result, take great pride in their products for passing these tests. With each stage being standardised and carried out with a great deal of scrutiny, each of its manufactures stand behind their products with a full manufacturer warranty, meaning that there will never be able ‘quibble’ when it comes to replacements or refunds, in the unlikely event that such a thing should be needed. However, in all the years it has been in operation, this has proved a rare circumstance, with the more common outcome being one of total satisfaction for a customer. Mark, the CEO and co-founder of Purple Planet Packaging, is proud that this has become the legacy of the business, and uses the excellence that it has developed to pay it forward to the community. An avid fan of Only Fools and Horses and dedicated family man, he hopes that one day, Purple Planet Packaging can be the main shirt sponsor of his local football club, as well as the key leader in environmentally responsible packaging solutions. Company: Purple Planet Packaging Contact: Mark Farr Website:

14 | Managing Director of the Year Awards 2022 Good web design can transform a business, but the best designs are those form part of a wider strategy. When it comes to developing these broader designs for success, there are few firms better than 3rd Pixel. The company’s MD, Shaun Moat, has achieved remarkable success which has been justly recognised in SME News’ Managing Director of the Year Awards 2022. We caught up with him to find out more. Formed in 2015, 3rd Pixel has quickly built a strong reputation for the team’s formidable ability in the field of website design, hosting and maintenance. In 2021, 3rd Pixel was bought by Shaun Moat who had achieved success with his own firm, Moray Digital. The small size of the firm, based on the shores of the Moray Firth, means that their fees are considerably less than their city-based counterparts. With so many companies offering web design, especially with the increased demand brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, it takes something special to stand out from the crowd. “We offer our clients an integrated approach,” explains Shaun. “It’s a full digital strategy – not just a website. The whole spectrum of digital agency services underpinned by an enthusiastic understanding of our clients’ business, audience, and objectives.” This comprehensive approach has allowed many to benefit from the team’s many years of experience in this specialist field, but it’s worth considering how Shaun rose to the top of this successful business. Shaun’s professional background is one which some might not see as traditional for an upstart start-up. “Before starting in business, I served in the Royal Air Force for eight years,” he tells us. During this time, he served at RAF Kinloss and Brize Norton in the UK as well as being deployed overseas in Kuwait and the Iraq War. To some, this miliary background might not be a good basis from which to run a business, but Shaun was happy to explain how it transformed him into a leader. “Having this military background and the ability to think on my feet set me for my position to run two successful businesses,” he smiles. The results, truly, speak for themselves. Shaun’s success as a leader comes, in no small part, from the trust he holds in his employees. He has a very open management style which empowers his team. “My team and I meet daily Most Innovative Web Design MD (Scotland): Shaun Moat online as we all work from home,” he informs us. “They know everything that is happening in the business such as new clients. Letting them understand everything that is happening gives them a sense of ownership and helps with the direction we are moving.” This inclusive approach has generated a strong sense of camaraderie within 3rd Pixel, and it is this camaraderie which has allowed them to thrive even through the most challenging of times. The small size of the firm, based as they are on the shores of the Moray Firth, means that their fees are considerably less than their city-based counterparts. The COVID-19 pandemic saw major demand for the team’s services as everyone was forced online. “This has given us over 30% growth on the previous year,” Shaun explains. “As we come out of covid-19 restrictions, I believe that businesses now have a strong understanding Mar22640 of the need for online services, and that for a business to survive they can no longer rely on a brick-and-mortar solution.” This shift towards digital ways of working is reflected by the way in which businesses work across the UK now. It also puts the team in a great position, with Shaun’s capable leadership allowing them to continue to grow during these unprecedented days. The best leaders are those who lead with conviction, allowing people ownership as far as possible to secure success. Shaun Moat proves this ably, with his business thriving now, and setting itself up to flourish in the future. Company: 3rd Pixel Ltd Name: Shaun Moat Email: Web Address:

15 | Managing Director of the Year Awards 2022 Northside Truck & Van Ltd is one of the UK’s leading Mercedes-Benz and Maxus suppliers. It has accomplished this title under the leadership of its Managing director, Keith Sims, who has poured an abundance of expertise, care, and passion into the development of the business. Across eight locations in the UK, Northside Truck & Van Ltd supply a plethora of services that contribute to the sale, service, and repair of the full Mercedes-Benz and Maxus commercial vehicle range. Indeed, its sales and services are tailored to cover every customer’s requirements, henceforth, the company carries the largest volume of stock vehicles across all UK based Mercedes Benz and Maxus dealerships. Northside Truck & Van Ltd prides itself on its devotion to client-centricity – it is a trustworthy and transparent service that aims to serve you. Consequently, the company has sold vehicles and its services to tens of thousands of companies, from brands recognised worldwide to one-person start-ups, as regardless of size it endeavours to treat all its customers equally. Much of this stems from the company’s devotion to its core values, namely providing an unmatched service that circles around maintaining the best products and services possible. Further, Northside Truck & Van Ltd aims to keep its customers businesses running with minimal downtime. Such values have not changed since the company’s inception – instead, they have only strengthened. Keith Sims, the company’s Managing Director, began his journey with Northside Truck & Van Ltd in 2019. Initially, Sims took on the role of Truck Sales Director, in which he was then tasked with looking after the business as a whole. Northside Truck & Van Ltd was, at this time, in need of re-structuring. Recognising that the business was not best placed for the dynamics required for the future, Sims set to work, implementing a range of measures to rectify the issue. His main course of action came in the form of boosting the morale of the sales team. Once this took place, Northside Truck & Van Dealership MD of the Year (Northern England): Keith Sims Truck & Van Ltd saw an increase in truck sales, achieving its target within the first year. However, Sims’ work was not complete. After a successful year as Truck Director, Sims was promoted to the role of Managing Director. This took place during a particularly turbulent period – the height of the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic. Yet Sims saw this time as beneficial, in hindsight calling it, ‘the medicine Northside needed.’ In addition, this time was utilised by Sims in order to forge a greater relationship with the newly formed team of directors, ensuring all staff understood his vision and passion for the group going forwards. In turn, the company further developed the business with an expansion to eight new depots and the acquisition of a building on the Sandtoft Industrial Estate, which would become the company’s used vehicle preparation and PDI centre. In January 2021, the site would also become home to Northside Truck & Van Ltd’s Maxus franchise. This new area of Northside Truck & Van Ltd grew exponentially, becoming the fastest growing and largest Maxus franchise in the UK, securing an order for 750 electric vehicles from a large UK company in its first six months of operation. Subsequently, after 18 months as Managing Director, Sims pushed the company to accomplish its best financial year on record in 2021. Of course, such success would have been impossible without Sims’ approach to business. He states, ‘One very important feature of my role and the business is you have to enjoy it and still get the buzz of coming to work, the moment that stops you fail.’ It is with this firmly in mind that Sims has designed the internal structure of Northside Truck & Van Ltd to thrive upon diversity, community, and trust. As Sims comments, ‘we have a good sense of community which involves winning together when times are good & sticking together when times are tough.’ 2022 is set to be a busy year for the company. Northside Truck & Van Ltd hopes to continue to strengthen its current products and services as well as involve itself with any further business opportunities that it comes across. For example, the company has recently introduced a new service, Fleet24Seven, that specialises in a one stop shop for vehicle fleet management. Additionally, the company wants to help the electric vehicle infrastructure in the UK through consultations and the supplying of electric charging equipment. Contact: Keith Sims Company: Northside Truck & Van Ltd Web Address: Mar22556

16 | Managing Director of the Year Awards 2022 coming loose on the pitch, one that children of all genders and sporting proficiencies can be proud to wear. Therefore, its products – both the Laceeze branded lace solution and its Defiance clothing line – are growing in notoriety day by day. Critically, it is now enjoying a significant growth spurt thanks to its direct-to-consumer e-commerce business model, allowing parents to get hold of new kit for their kids even in the height of the pandemic. It is also making itself a stalwart of its industry by way of its social corporate responsibility; for every sale made, it donates 25p of it to grassroots causes such as to help young people afford to be able to play their sport or in sponsorship of local clubs. Designed with its market in mind, everything it does has a deeply ingrained friendliness and bold personality. After all, at its core, Laceeze is a brand designed by parents for parents and their kids, a solution to a common problem that this market faces and one that it has been happy to provide. Despite the challenge of facing a competitor product springing up, it has maintained the love of its market segment and kept its status of pre-eminence amongst its customers due to the empathic, charismatic nature of the company and the excellence of the products, generating additional exposure through its growing online footprint. From its co-founders to its employees and subcontractors, its staff are passionate about sport, happy to help, and here to listen, taking on The innovators behind a bold new product in athletic apparel, Laceeze has secured its position as a friendly, modern, and practical start-up with big ideas. Having created a piece of footwear that anchors laces in place and adds an additional bit of flair to any sports kit, it is proud to say that its products have become a staple for sports teams both in the UK and USA. Saving parents the trouble of helping kids re-tie muddy laces and saving children the frustration of having to bring a game to a halt to deal with that situation, Laceeze has made itself a stylish solution to a common problem. Laceeze bands is a company founded off the basis of making apparel and solutions for sportsmad kids. An idea conceived on the side of a muddy football pitch by Paula and Emma, two parents who support their kids in their sporting endeavours without fail, Laceeze was born as the solution to having to stop matches countless times in order to retie shoelaces that have come undone in the heat of the moment. The two saw that one child had attended training with an elastic band around the sports show to stop the laces from coming undone, and it worked great. Thus, the two began to think of ideas of how to apply this concept to something stylish, fun, and practical that could become an aesthetically appealing part of sports kit for young athletes. After many conversations between Emma and Paula, and eight months of ideation, preparation, and deliberation, Laceeze was ready for launch in May of 2018. Since the launch of the company, Emma has been managing the day-to-day growth of the business as well as the development of new product ranges, taking her role within the company incredibly seriously so that she can continue to serve the market of parents with kids who love sports in line with changing trends. With a finger on the pulse of her industry, and an in-depth understanding of the market due to numbering amongst them herself, Laceeze’s lace-cover solution provides a sleek, cool, and practical solution to laces Sports Retail MD of the Year (South West England): Emma Burke Mar22438 TM board feedback in order to allow itself to keep improving. Thus, in the future, it is excited to keep expanding into international sales, with some top-secret plans for the Defiance line that it is excited to share with its customer base, saying – in short – ‘watch this space’. Company: Laceeze Contact: Emma Burke Website:

17 | Managing Director of the Year Awards 2022 Established with a vision to change the perception of recruitment agencies, OX Seven Talent Partners, led by Will Grashoff, has been recognised as the Best Staffing and Recruitment Business MD within the East Midlands. Operating in an industry with low or virtually no barriers to entry, OX Seven has managed to innovate, dedicate, and reinvent the industry, all explained in detail from the professional expertise of Will. Unique in its stance, Ox Seven Talent Partner Ltd was founded with the aim to reinvent and rejuvenate the idea of recruitment agencies. By all regards, it has successfully done so with the support of Will Grashoff, Founder and Managing Director of the organisation. However, this can be seen as a challenging position due to the fact that entering this industry has limited barriers, and as a result, standards can dip in the pursuit of profit. Expanding on this, Will states, “Candidates can be treated like walking ‘money signs’ and clients can treat the relationship in a transactional way, rather than a partnership.” As a recruitment agency, the company has felt a significant push to be accepted in the corporate world. However, in reality, OX Seven Talent Partners deals with human beings who want to speak to experts with a personality, not robots. Hence, the launch of a reinvented state of agencies. “I encourage all of my consultants to have an opinion, be themselves, and not care if someone does not like them. But, of course, you cannot be everyone’s cup of tea; otherwise, you’d be a mug,” boasts Will. For OX Seven Talent Partners, its success is directly correlated to the vibrant accumulation of experience that can be accounted for by Founder Will Grashoff, who has subsequently spent a lot of time in varied careers such as school cleaner, a Burger King employee, phone salesman, debt collection, asset manager and operations manager. However, at a mere 29, he happily stumbled into what is now his lifelong passion and career at OX Seven Talent Partners. Will explains in more detail his career journey, stating, “After I left debt collection, I was given a career-defining opportunity, to work with an entrepreneur running three of his business. He obviously saw something in me that I had not realised before, and we went on to create a successful software house that sold into the aesthetic and pharmaceutical industry. I would say here I learned an incomprehensible number of skills around running a business, dealing with people who want to give you money and take your money, and managing people.” For Will and his company, without it sounding cliché, OX Seven Talent Partners is in the business of people, with success crucially hingeing on an ability to understand people. “We believe recruitment is 80% marketing and 20% selling, so we take a very marketing-led approach to positioning our roles in a very ‘noisy’ marketplace. It means doing deep dives with companies, understanding why a candidate would want to work with them, and then creating advertising collateral that ‘talks’ to our target audience,” explains Will. Additionally, OX Seven Talent Partners utilises a lot of video content and a diverse selection of multimedia to communicate opportunities. Will adds, “We want to humanise our consultants as much as possible and create a connection between the prospective candidate and the consultant.” Added to its overall transparency and relaxed, communicative environment, OX Seven Talent Partners is quite particular with which clients it chooses to work with and has therefore set a high bar for those who wish to collaborate with them. For OX Seven Talent Partners, the founding goal is to work with companies making positive contributions to society and taking diversity and inclusion seriously – respecting the profession and the offerings as a recruitment agency. OX Seven Talent Partners has conducted a sensible growth plan for the next few years. Will closes the article with his final thoughts, stating, “I’m very conscious that explosive growth doesn’t always allow the foundations of a solid business to be created. I’m essentially unemployable now, so I’m extremely driven to Mar22440 Best Staffing & Recruitment Business MD (East Midlands): Will Grashoff make this work and grow it into a business that my children can and would want to work in when they grow up!” From the Burger King floor to becoming the Best Staffing and Recruitment Business in the East Midlands, Will Grashoff proves success in more ways than one – that a dream career path can come at any age, so long as you work hard and believe in yourself. Company Name: OX Seven Talent Partners Contact Name: Will Grashoff Web Address: Contact Email: