Hertfordshire LEP is proudly sponsoring the Business Growth category at the Hertfordshire Business Awards 2017. Meet our five fantastic finalists and find out why they have been shortlisted. The winner will be announced at the Awards Ceremony on 23 November. 

Driver Require

Driver Require is a Stevenage-based specialist driver recruitment agency founded in 2000, which provide LGV drivers to some of the biggest names in retail, including Ocado, TK Maxx and Kingsmill (Allied Bakeries).

The company was on a strong growth trajectory when the 2008 financial crisis hit which saw demand for services fall by 50% in the space of a few months. The company took the tough decision to stay in business despite formidable debt; securing loans, closing several offices and retrenching all but 4 members of staff in order to safeguard its finances. By 2010, its new growth strategy was finally taking form.

Revenues reached pre-recession levels by December 2012 and today, Driver Require operates 7 branches, employs 30 staff, and has quadrupled its turnover in just four years, despite adverse market conditions.

The company attributes its success to the way it recruits and supplies drivers, saying: “We are a people business, providing a service to people, through people. Our tagline “Beyond the Extra Mile” captures our desire to deliver excellence to everyone we interact with.

Being nominated as a finalist has given us a platform to celebrate the years of hard work and determination, particularly through the recession, and it is so important for the company and our team to be recognised for this publicly. 

In the words of CEO Kieran Smith ‘We are extremely honoured and delighted to have been shortlisted as finalists for these Awards. Given the extraordinary strength of the field this year, the judges will have a very difficult job and we are certainly up against some very strong competition. Fingers crossed for Awards night!’”

DB Sharp and Sons Ltd

DB Sharp and Sons Ltd are a leading building contractor based in Letchworth, Hertfordshire. The company was established in 1979 by Derick Brian Sharp, with sons Martin, Richard and David joining a few years later, each contributing their own unique skill set.

From humble beginnings working in a garage at their mother’s house, the business now owns two of its own industrial units - one of which houses the impressive new company headquarters where 16 office staff are based. With a further 60 employees onsite, DB Sharp and Sons are winning tenders for many of Hertfordshire’s most prestigious projects.

Historically, 90% of the company’s work came from recommendations and word of mouth. The introduction of a Business Development team over the past three years has been a game changer, helping improve the company’s relationship with local architects who provide a greater scope of work to tender for.

DB Sharp and Sons have also made significant branding improvements with a redesigned website, social media channels and an improved onsite appearance through sign boards, branded vehicles and uniforms. In response to being selected as a finalist, they say, “We are thrilled to be nominated for this award, it’s great to know the efforts of our entire team are being recognised by external sources.”

DLRC Ltd

DLRC Ltd provides a range of regulatory consultancy services to the global pharmaceutical industry. It supports clients through the complexities of gaining and maintaining UK, EU and international licences for new medicines.

The company was founded by Dianne Lee after a successful career working in pharmaceutical regulation for a number of large corporations and a decade operating as a self-employed consultant. As business grew, Dianne formed DLRC Ltd with a view to further expansion and in 2007 her husband, Kevin Judges, joined as co-director of the company. This heralded a period of ongoing year-on-year business growth.

DLRC operates a business strategy based on flexible working practices, controlled growth, international cognisance and collaborative relationships, with clients ranging from pharmaceutical multinationals to biotechnology start-ups. The company has won several awards in recent years including a Queens Award in 2017 recognising its success on an international stage as well as ‘Employer of the Year’ at the Hertfordshire Business Awards 2016. These accolades have helped the company recruit employees of a very high calibre, helping it grow.

On being named as a finalist, they say, “We are extremely proud of our success as a business. In the last three years, sales have almost doubled, profit has increased by 75% and we have doubled our staff. Our continued success is the result of a huge amount of hard work by the whole team and the support of our clients, suppliers and partners.

The continuously changing regulatory landscape provides challenges and opportunities, and we believe we are well placed to meet them. Our plans are to continue to grow in a controlled and sustainable way, building our team of specialists and extending our client base.”

MRK Associates

MRK Associates was established in 2011 as a specialist recruitment business by Roland Seddon who previously worked as a senior director at a global recruiting organisation. The idea for the business was born during the 2008 recession when Roland noticed a significant shift in attitude amongst employers who were favouring singularly focused recruitment consultancies who could seek and attract the highly specialised skills they were looking for.

The business which was first started in Roland’s spare room has flourished and grown, now employing ten members of staff, with plans to move from its current office in Hemel Hempstead to a larger space in 2018.

The company’s Finance and Office Support portfolio is focused specifically on the Northern Home Counties; an approach favoured both by clients and the 15,000 candidates currently registered. Its Revenue Management division operates nationally and has also recently expanded into mainland Europe including France, Spain, Germany and the Netherlands, in addition to evolving markets like Dubai and the Middle East.

Founder Roland Seddon says, “This was as cold a start-up as was possible – no history, no relationships, no previous track record locally. Fast forward just a few short years, I’m delighted we have developed the business to the size it is; big enough to supply, small enough to care. Being a finalist in the Hertfordshire Business Awards is a great reward for the dedicated team I am enjoying working with, and the many employers and candidates we help.

This demonstrates how MRK Associates has gone from strength to strength and developed a pedigree that is relied upon by our clients and candidates. We are delighted the judges recognised our submission and we’re very much looking forward to the awards ceremony in November. We’ll see you there!”

Quest Joinery 

Based in Hemel Hempstead, Quest Joinery specialises in the design, manufacture and installation of bespoke, premium quality joinery products to both the commercial and residential sectors. The company’s roster of luxury clients include The Grove, Clarges Mayfair, Chelsea Barracks, St James’ Palace and Clarence House.

 The business was started in 2011 by friends Jeremy Theakston, a construction industry professional and Allan Jackson, a highly skilled wood machinist, carpenter and joiner. Throughout their time in the construction and joinery industries, they identified consistent disappointments in specialist joinery contractors, demonstrating a gap in the market for a joinery business offering exceptional quality products with a premium service: Quest was created to fill this gap.

The business has grown considerably since it was established. Revenue has increased year on year and the re-investment of profits has allowed this rapid growth to continue. Last year, the company significantly increased its manufacturing capability by moving to a larger production facility, purchasing state-of-the-art machinery and equipment, and recruiting new talent.

Looking to the future, Quest hopes to establish itself as the go-to joinery contractor for luxury joinery projects in London and the South-East and develop a premium product range for luxury retailers in the UK.

On being nominated for the Business Growth Award, they say, “Quest has enjoyed consistent growth and it is wonderful to be recognised for our achievements. We were overwhelmed to have been shortlisted, this feels like true recognition of all our hard work.

We’re passionate about creating jobs in the local area, supporting the local community and wherever possible, using suppliers from within the county, therefore local acknowledgement of our success means a great deal. To win this award would be fantastic for the entire team at Quest, a reward that we could all be extremely proud of.”