Express & Star

Stafford firm crowned Business of the Year at glittering Express & Star Business Awards

The 150th anniversary celebrations for the Express & Star got into full swing with the newspaper's glittering business awards dinner.

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Business of the Year winners Inco Contracts

Inco Contracts from Dunston Business Village, near Stafford, received the Business of the Year award from editor Mark Drew in the Civic Hall, Wolverhampton, on Thursday night.

The black-tie event, which celebrates everything that is great about business in the Black Country and south Staffordshire, was held at the University of Wolverhampton at the Halls complex for the first time.

Fast-growing Inco was praised by judges for its strong leadership and uncompromising commitment to customer service.

The Express & Star Business Awards

The Business Person of the Year winner was Jonathan Smith, from The APC, Cannock, who was singled out for his strong values and passion for the parcel delivery business.

The winner of the Small to Medium Sized Business of the Year was Addfield Environmental Systems of Burntwood, which impressed judges with its exporting record, development of an apprenticeship scheme and its push for environmental change.

There were two special recognition awards. They were made to John Donovan from JJX Logistics, Kingswinford, who was praised as an inspirational manager and exceptional role model, and apprentice Matthew Randle, of Dreamland, for his work to transform the business.

Managing director John Donovan was praised as an inspirational manager

The awards, which were attended by nearly 350 guests, were hosted by Des Coleman, the Central television weatherman and actor.

Charity for the event was the Midlands Air Ambulance based at Cosford with those attending invited to make a donation to help its life-saving work.

The evening opened with a video telling the story of the Express & Star and some of the incredible stories its journalists have covered over the years.

The first award of the evening – Young Business of the Year – went to UK Fire Door Training, of Four Ashes, near Wolverhampton.

Alloy Wire International, of Brierley Hill, received the Manufacturing Champion award with judges impressed by the teamwork at the 25-year-old company.

Growth and Innovation winners were Metelec, of Hilton Cross Business Park, Featherstone which has made extensive investment including in a new multi-million pound building.

Play @ Lower Drayton Farm took home the Family Business of the Year trophy.

The winning Hospitality, Leisure and Retail Business of the Year was Dudley Canal and Tunnel Trust.

The new Employee Wellness Excellence Award went to Ettingshall-based palletised network Pallet-Track.

Another new award this year was for Employee of the Year with the winner being Lydia Hopley, quality, health and safety adviser at The APC.

Apprentice of the Year was named as Sophie Chester from ASSAABLOY Opening Solutions in Willenhall.

The event was made possible through the sponsorship of Carvers Building Supplies, Crowe, Higgs LLP, Collins Aerospace, Emmiera Group, Richardson, MNA Digital, City of Wolverhampton Council, Wombourne Windows and Black Country and Marches Institute of Technology.

Drinks reception sponsors were Compass UK & Ireland, event producers were Yarrington and trophy sponsors Silvaman and The University of Wolverhampton at the Halls. Wolverhampton-based business Pallet-Track was brochure sponsor.

Photographs from the big night will be featured in the Express & Star on Saturday and online at

The winners:

  • Young Business of the Year: UK Fire Door Training

  • Manufacturing Champion: Alloy Wire International

  • Growth and Innovation: Metelec

  • Family Business of the Year: Play@ Lower Drayton Farm

  • Employee Wellness Excellence Award: Pallet-Track Ltd

  • Employee of the Year: Lydia Hopley, The APC

  • Business Person of the Year: Jonathan Smith, The APC

  • Hospitality, Leisure and Retail Business of the Year: Dudley Canal and Tunnel Trust

  • Apprentice of the Year: Sophie Chester, ASSA ABLOY Opening Solutions

  • Small to Medium Sized Business of the Year: Addfield Environmental

  • Special Recognition Award: Matthew Randle, Dreamland

  • Special Recognition Award: John Donovan, JJX Logistics

  • Business of the Year: Inco Contracts