Meet the finalists of the 2016 Business Leader Awards

Business Leader AwardsFinalists for the Business Leader Awards have been announced and one winner from each category will be revealed on Thursday, September 22.

Below we have compiled biographies for each finalist so you can get to know them better before the big night.
Business in the Community

Alliance Homes Group

Alliance Homes Group is a social enterprise and social housing provider with 6,500 homes. As well as providing homes that are affordable in terms of rent and running costs, they also provide a range of care and support services to help individuals get the most out of life.

Social innovators and pioneers, Alliance have been shortlisted for the Alliance Care Academy, which aims to raise aspirations and fill a gap in the care sector.

Almeda Facilities Ltd

Almeda is a total facilities management company that works with some of the region’s most iconic buildings and spaces. The company is also heavily involved in the community and actively supports a range of initiatives such as Knowle West Media Centre, Scouts, Happy City, Bristol Green Alliance, Severn Project and more.

Almeda has been shortlisted for continuously going above and beyond in the way it supports the community it operates in.

Ashley Community Housing

Established in 2008, Ashley Community Housing is a company limited by guarantee and a registered provider of social housing operating resettlement services for refugee and newly-arrived communities in Bristol, Birmingham and Wolverhampton.

Its core clients are refugees, the homeless and other displaced, vulnerable people alongside funders and commercial contracts.

Green Business of the Year

Filwood Green Business Park

Filwood Green Business Park is one of Bristol City Council’s flagship green projects that opened in 2015, the city’s year as European Green Capital. The building consists of more than 40,000 sq ft of workspace, including 76 units for workshops, offices and studios, with an internal floor area of 4957 sq ft.

Judges were impressed by its all-encompassing sustainable vision and implementation.

Mail Handling International

Mail Handling International is a Bristol based specialist in international postal distribution and has a £13 turnover. MHI and its staff at its Feeder Road Headquarters have implemented a number of green initiatives such as purchasing solar panels that cover 75% of the business’s roofing, electric vehicle charging points for staff and the investment in green technology and systems right across the business.

The company was shortlisted thanks to its commitment to changing habits around sustainability and investing now for the future.

Three Sixty Services Ltd

Threesixty Services started in August 2008. A small plumbing and heating company based on Zetland Road, Redland, it set out to change how customer service was provided to the domestic and light commercial markets, promoting a greener water and energy saving approach.

Judges were impressed how, despite not being a very large business, the firm is running sustainable operations and infrastructure.

Marketing Campaign of the Year

Barcan & Kirby

Barcan & Kirby is a sizeable law firm that operates across the South West and has been shortlisted for the marketing award due to their ‘Citizen 2025’ campaign. It is a research-led PR campaign that looks at how changing lifestyles and demographics will influence the way in which people buy and consume legal services in the next decade.

Gregor Heating

Gregor Heating is an electrical and renewable energy provider and has been shortlisted for their ‘full-service’ marketing campaign. The firm revisited its mission, vision and values and then formulated a new cohesive five-year business plan and integrated marketing, sales and customer service strategy.

Howards Motor Group

Established as a single family owned garage in 1972, Howards has evolved into a multi-site group with dealerships in Weston-super-Mare, Taunton, Yeovil and Dorchester. With over 40 years of automotive heritage, Howards impressed the judges by how they integrate both traditional and digital marketing to both build the brand and the business.

Innovation & Technology Award

Keystone Property Reports

Keystone was launched by property professionals Darren Clapp and Jon Battle on the open market in January 2015 and today has 1000’s of users throughout the UK, Europe, South Africa and the USA.

Aimed at large and small property companies, Keystone Property Reports produces property inspection software on a regular basis for our standard public software but also bespoke software for companies across the globe.


Recognised by Bloomberg in 2016 as one of 50 innovative companies set to change the world, Neighbourly is an internet platform for social good. It connects local community and charity projects with companies and people that can help by giving donations of time, money or food surplus.

The company has a global vision to use stories and data to increase the amount of community giving facilitated by large companies as part of their marketing and HR programmes.

Simulation Systems

Simulation Systems Ltd is based in Yatton and specialises in the design, development, manufacture, installation and commissioning of high-end traffic technology systems. Its client base is varied and includes service providers such as Highways England, local Councils across the UK and large construction consultancies.

Customer Excellence Award

Key Solutions

Key Solutions is a specialist Independent Mortgage Broker that has been assisting clients across the UK for over 20 years. The company provides a fee free mortgage & protection advice service helping over 2000 clients a year purchase or re-mortgage their property.

Judges said they were impressed by the companies ‘customer centric’ model and use of data and analysis to track the customer journey and delight those that engage with the company.

Midas Construction

The Midas Group is recognised as one of the most successful and innovative independent construction companies in England and attributes much of its growth to its pioneering Vision to provide exemplary customer service.

With on-going projects across the South West, Midas made the shortlist due to the systems and processes it has in place to deliver and monitor high levels of customer satisfaction.

Pelican Business Services

Pelican Business Services was established by Bristol Water and Wessex Water as a joint venture customer services company to manage their customer service, meter reading, billing and collection operations.

The team at Pelican impressed the judges due to their unwavering commitment to putting the customer first and their continued investment in systems and innovation to ensure they deliver a first-class service.

Export & International Award


With a substantial overseas turnover, Creditcall provides payments technology known as Payment Gateway and EMV Kernels. Software developers of point of sale (POS) and mobile POS (mPOS) solutions use Creditcall’s Payment Gateway to connect their applications to a bank to ensure a card payment can be taken in a store, at a self-service machine, online or mobile.

Lye Cross Farm

The 3rd generation of the Alvis Family continues to grow and develop their farming and cheese-making business at Redhill, Somerset. Its cheese-making is focussed on the production of handmade Cheddar cheese in both conventional and organic formats using milk from its own and neighbour’s herds. Widely available in leading stores in the UK, its cheese is now exported to customers on 5 continents going into retail, food service and food manufacturer categories.

Pulse Roll Label

Pulse Roll Label Products Ltd, based in Bristol, is a privately-owned company that was established in 2001 as a manufacturer of specialist inks and varnishes for the narrow web label printing market.

Since its foundation, the company has grown rapidly to become a well-established supplier to the label printing market and in recent years has built upon its strong position and reputation in the UK market, to expand further afield through the development of its international customer base.
Employer of the Year

Almeda Facilities Ltd

From dedicating a £50k budget for training key staff at Cranfield Business School to investing in free fruit and vegetable provision at its Keynsham HQ, the judges recognised the total facilities management firm’s on-going and all-encompassing commitment to developing and rewarding its staff.

Heat Recruitment

From launch in 2006, Heat Recruitment specialised in recruiting within the General Insurance sector, with a plan to become the ‘go to place’ for Professional Services recruitment. From 2007-2009 it created a new division year on year, starting with Accountancy & Finance then Financial Services and on to Legal Sector Recruitment, growing the business headcount along the way.

Judges were impressed by the firm’s employee-centric business model and how it continually rewards, trains and encourages staff.

Pelican Business Services

Pelican Business Services was established by Bristol Water and Wessex Water as a joint venture company to manage their customer journey.

Through positive leadership and management, it has created an inspiring and developmental work environment for employees; resulting in a 22% increase in employee engagement across the seven areas it measures.
Rising Star Award

James Kingston (Kingston Barnes)

James Kingston set up Kingston Barnes from his spare room in January 2013. Fast-forward to the present day the business now has an annual turnover in excess of £2.5m

Judges were impressed how James – despite his relative youth- had managed to launch a recruitment business operating in the construction sector; and make it a success.

James Piper (ecosurety)

James Piper has worked his way up one of the fastest growing companies in UK waste management to be named Commercial Director at 27.

James joined ecosurety as a graduate seven years’ ago. Since then he has originated 59% of the company’s turnover and won a string of accolades and awards along the way.

Jon Filer (Brunel Professional Risks)

Jon joined Brunel – an insurance broker – in May 2011 at a time where the company was looking to continue their expansion plans. He joined as Business Development Manager at the age of 23 and was employee number 19, now there are circa 70 staff across Bristol, London and Manchester.

Jon’s role within this period has grown significantly and he has been promoted on four occasions.
Entrepreneur of the Year

Helena Hills (TrueStart Coffee)

Helena is the joint founder of TrueStart Coffee – the world’s only controlled natural caffeine performance coffee. Helena has used raw entrepreneurial spirit to take a business from conception to reality and judges were impressed by her ability to juggle all aspects of running a business; her perseverance, positive attitude and vision and leadership.

James Liang (Hotcha)

James is the founder of Hotcha – a fast-growing chain of Chinese takeaways across Bristol and the South West. A self-confessed ‘born entrepreneur’ James is relentless in this approach to business and aims to make Hotcha into the biggest chain of Chinese restaurants in the UK.

In the notoriously tough food and drink sector, judges were impressed by James’ vision, innovation and ability to spot opportunities and take advantage of them.

Steve Preston (Heat Recruitment)

A former Royal Marine, Steve set up Heat Recruitment in a log cabin in his bedroom before opening offices in Bristol. With year on year growth and over 50 staff, he has demonstrated entrepreneurial spirit and turned Heat into one of the fastest-growing and most successful recruitment companies in the South West.
Start-up Business Award

Keystone Property Reports

Keystone was launched by property professionals Darren Clapp and Jon Battle on the open market in January 2015 and today has 1000’s of users throughout the UK, Europe, South Africa and the USA.

Aimed at large and small property companies, Keystone Property Reports produces property inspection software on a regular basis for our standard public software but also bespoke software for companies across the globe.

The Window Outlet

The Window Outlet (TWO) is a fast growing window and door manufacturer based in South Bristol, supplying premium quality aluminium products to the trade market (window and door installers/builders).

The company was established in September 2014 by entrepreneurs Ben Warren and Clive Uppington and despite trading for just 21 months, is already one of the largest aluminium suppliers in the South West. TWO employs 21 people and is on course to turnover £2m in its second year.

Truestart Coffee

True Start Coffee is the world’s only controlled natural caffeine performance coffee. In a short space of time, the business has become a leading challenger brand, recruited an enviable board of directors, achieved month on month growth and gained listings in some of the UK’s most well-known retailers.

Business of the Year – 1-10 Employees

My Action Replay

My Action Replay allows sportspeople of all levels to capture and watch their best (and worst) moments through innovative technology and a network of connected cameras.

Based at the Engine Shed My Action Replay has achieved year on year growth and struck deals with major sports clubs and venues, who are using the company’s technology.

Turtle Tots

With a turnover of way over half a million pounds, Turtle Tots is a unique swimming programme that begins with aqua-natal yoga for mums-to-be and continues with specialist baby and toddler classes.

It sells licenses and trains people to run their own Turtle Tots businesses – selling them the rights to use the Turtle Tots brand in a post-coded territory.

Waste Source

Waste Source was born in 2010 to make waste management simpler, cheaper and more efficient for businesses of any size. As a broker, it can cover anywhere in the country and has an enviable client list that includes household names such as Boston Tea Party and The Ivy. The firm is projected to a turnover of £2.4 million this year.

Business of the Year – 11-50 Employees

Almeda Facilities Ltd

Almeda was formed in 1981 as a local electrical contracting business. Fast forward to the present day and the businesses has a turnover of £6 million and works with some the region’s most interesting and innovative buildings. Judges noted how from people to profits, the business showed impressive credentials.


ForrestBrown is one of Bristol’s fastest growing startup businesses.

Helm Construction

Operating across the South West, Helm Construction specialises in new build, residential, commercial and domestic projects for private, commercial and public sector customers. It has transformed from being a small local builder to one of the region’s fastest growing construction firms.

It employs 48 people, providing a complete ‘turn-key’ project management solution. 98 percent of these are full-time employees.

Business of the Year – 51+ Employees

Gregor Heating

Gregor Heating, Electrical & Renewable Energy was established in 1986 by current MD and owner, Steve Gregor. This year it is celebrating 30 years of working within the Bristol and Bath community and now employ over 100 local people.

The business is self-funded and delivers significant revenues through innovation and diversification while focussing on the heating solutions sector, in both the domestic and business areas.

Marshfield Bakery

Marshfield manufacture both private label and Marshfield branded tray bakes, fruit cakes, biscuits and seasonal pastry lines. These are sold nationally through a network of direct customers and distributors.

With strong financial figures; evidence of job creation and innovation – judges described the business as highly successful across all of its operations.


RSG is a successful recruitment provider with a number of specialist companies united under one over-arching brand. It offers a wide range of innovative and individually tailored recruitment solutions to multi-nationals, household names and SMEs.

RSG was originally founded in 1975 and has grown from a single recruitment company based above a shop in Clifton Village into a multi-million pound, international recruitment business with 200+ staff and a network of offices throughout Europe.