A Burbage business coach saw three clients pronounced finalists at an international awards celebrating excellence across Europe, Africa and the Middle East.
ActionCOACH Mark Jennings’s clients Devall & Son, Coventry Sliding Wardrobes and Needham Insurance Services were all recognised at the 2022 BizX Awards, presented by TV presenter and broadcaster Clare Balding OBE.
Mark said: “All three businesses have shown resilience, vision and leadership to achieve growth through the pandemic and to hear their names read out as finalists in three out of 17 categories was an emotional moment.
“I am incredibly proud of my clients, Dan, Sam and Neal, who worked extremely hard and thoroughly deserve this recognition.”
Daniel Devall of Devall & Son made finalist for CEO of the Year for his leadership to strengthen the business and for serving as a role model and mentor to his team.
Daniel, who joined the family business at the age of 17, said Covid-19 brought challenges like never before, including having to personally tell families they couldn’t attend the funeral of their loved ones when the rule of six came into force.
“It was the most difficult day of my working life and having to tell families completely broke me,” he said. “The world turned upside down and how we delivered our high level of care - and in such extraordinary circumstances - had to be completely re-written. We had essentially become the ‘4th emergency service’.
“I want to say thank you to my staff for their hard work and commitment to never letting a family down, doing everything they could to help families through that period. They have been sensational. They even donated food and clothes to local food banks to help those less fortunate during the pandemic.”
Among the challenges Dan and team faced was organising the funeral - including a special procession route amid restrictions - of ex-Coventry City footballer’s Ashley Cain’s eight-month-old daughter Azaylia, who died from a rare form of leukaemia.
Jonathan Bambury, director at Devall & Son, said Daniel deserved to be recognised as a role model. “He sets the standard in best practice for the team,” he said.
Coventry Sliding Wardrobes, which has its own production facility at its 2,000 square feet manufacturing and showroom headquarters on the Attleborough Fields Industrial Estate in Nuneaton, was a finalist for Best Manufacturer/Wholesaler.
After specialising in walk-in wardrobes for 20 years, the team saw Covid-19 as an opportunity to branch out into home entertainment solutions and accent furniture and accessories to reflect the rise in home renovations, which increased in the UK by 30% year-on-year, and home office storage for those working from home.
They also developed a prototype portable screen to protect staff and customers in restaurants, cafes and pubs, beauty salons, shops, medical and healthcare facilities.
Managing director Sam Clay, who started out in business selling rhubarb from his grandad’s allotment as a small boy, said: “Our facility was immediately converted to enable rapid production, giving customers the confidence they could return to operational as quickly as possible. Orders went national and generated growth of 10-15% in the company. Being a finalist at the awards is a massive driver for our business and a huge boost after a hard few years for everyone.”
Needham Insurance Services was announced a finalist in the Best Business Growth category for increasing the value of the business.
Managing director Neal Lowe bought the business in 2000 and it was grew steadily and organically for many years. But in late 2020, a unique opportunity came up.
“Unfortunately, a local broker, Inspire Insurance Services, had gone into liquidation,” he said. “They had around 300 clients but, suddenly, no-one to look after them. We had the chance to buy its £5 million portfolio from liquidators and we seized the day, gave it everything we had. In 2021, we grew by 54%, which is incredible, especially during the pandemic.
“I’ve always had great pride in my staff, but the way they handled the acquisition made me really value my team, especially as many were working from home. Some of them have been with the company for nearly 20 years and without their dedication, it just wouldn’t be possible. They have been amazing.”
Needham Insurance Services turned over around £2 million from personal and business clients in 2019. In 2021, this was £4.9 million. The company has also opened two new offices in Nuneaton and Coventry, making five in total, and has just completed another acquisition in Sheffield.
The annual BizX Awards are organised by ActionCOACH and celebrate its coaches’ thousands of clients from across the UK, Europe and the Middle East.
Mark, who traded the toolbox as a former electrical engineer for helping regional firms realise their full potential in 2011, won ActionCOACH’s award for best client ratings in the Central Midlands award in 2020, recognising his part in keeping small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) thriving during the first year of the pandemic.
In 2018, Mark was made a Global MasterCoach by an international panel for ActionCOACH, ranked in the Elite Franchise Top 10 in the UK last December, and is regularly one of the top performers of its most successful coaches in the UK.