By entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurs in Residence

Our Entrepreneurs in Residence (EIRs) are many of Yorkshire’s most successful entrepreneurs. They are drawn from a variety of industries and have all built, and many are continuing to build, highly successful businesses. They have agreed to give time to deliver Masterclasses, take part in panels and provide mentoring for members of the Connect Gazelles.

Utrick Alexander Utrick Alexander,

Established in 1981 by Utrick Alexander, Surfachem grew to become the leading, UK based, global distributor of speciality chemicals into many industry sectors including; Personal Care, Homecare, Industrial and Institutional and Pharmaceutical with a turnover of more than £40m by the time Utrick sold the company in 2007. Since then Utrick has started a new company with former colleagues from Surfachem which also distributes speciality chemicals. This company has achieved sales of £3m in its first 2 years of trading.

Alan Aubrey Alan Aubrey,

Alan was the joint founder and Chief Executive of Techtran Group Ltd, the first company in Europe to offer a complete outsourced technology transfer function to universities. Techtran was acquired by IP Group in 2005. IP Group is the largest and most successful investor in technology start-ups based on scientific research in the UK and has now backed over 100 such companies. Under Alan's leadership the IP Group has grown rapidly and is now a Footsie 250 company. Alan has unique experience of the challenges facing companies with strong intellectual property but limited markets and the issues of bringing new products to market successfully. From 1995-2002 Alan was a partner in KPMG and holds a BA in Economics from the University of Leeds and a MBA with Distinction from the University of Bradford. He is a fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales and a non-executive director of the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS).

Adam Beaumont Adam Beaumont,

Adam started his career as a Lecturer in Thermodynamics (the study of the interchange of heat and energy). He was appointed by an agency of the MOD to design and build secure internet infrastructures. Following this he founded aql in 1999 as a domain name registrar and email and web hosting company. By mid 2000, aql was listed in the top 3% of registries (sales by volume of .uk domain names, source – Nominet UK annual statistics 2000-03) which enabled the company to invest heavily into telecoms infrastructure expansion, entering the mobile messaging market in 1999, with direct connections to the UK mobile network providers. Further expansion into wholesale telecommunications in 2003 allowed aql to create a full telecommunications network capable of supplying UK telephone numbering to the broadband industry to fulfill the growing demand for broadband voice “VoIP/IP Telephony" services. aql now host close to 90 Million telephone numbers for the UK IP telephony industry, one of the largest wholesale operators in the UK. Adam is regarded as one of the UK's authorities in datacentre security and datacentre efficiency. He has a holistic knowledge of communications, spanning many verticals. 

Simon Biltcliffe Simon Biltcliffe,

Simon founded Webmart in 1996 based on a Marxist principle that the lion’s share of the profits goes to its employees. The company turns over £37m and employs 43 people at offices in Barnsley, Bicester and East Kilbride. Webmart is Europe's leading low-cost Print Services Agency whose clients demand low prices, superb service and access to Print Consultants who understand their business objectives and can help them find the most effective print solutions. Simon was recently voted the Institute of Director’s (IoD) Director of the Year in the small and medium category and runner up of the IoD Director of the Year.

Deirdre Bounds Deirdre Bounds,

Deirdre started up a business, i to I, from a bedsit and turned it into the world’s biggest gap year company. She then sold it to a FTSE 100 company for an eight-figure sum. And she did it all in just 10 years! She did it fast. She did it differently. She defied the skeptics. And she made millions. What makes her story even more remarkable is that she had no previous commercial experience. She had no family history of enterprise. And she set the whole thing up without any start-up capital. All she had was a great idea, a real belief in helping young people have amazing experiences, piles of passion and a belief that a travel business could be both ethical and profitable.

Mark Bowers Mark Bowers,

Mark joined Redfern Travel when it was a company in transition from a traditional business travel turning over approx £8m with 27 employees. The company now has a turnover of £250m with a forecast PBT for the current year of £3.4m and has 100 employees. Mark and his team were the first in the country to commoditise travel to enable companies to control their travel policy and book all their travel requirements through the Redfern Travel portal with virtually no human intervention. The portal manages a transaction every 3 seconds and concludes 26,500 transactions pa per member of staff against an industry average of 3,500. In 2011 the company won a contract to manage the online and domestic travel requirements for 10 Government Departments, the largest contract ever awarded to an SME. Over the last 3 years the turnover has grown from £42m to £215m with at target of £250m in 2014/15, and in July 2014 Mark led the management team in a successful MBO. 

Tony Bramall Tony Bramall,

Tony Bramall began his motortrade career at his Father’s business C.D.Bramall ltd, having previously qualified as a chartered accountant. The business went public in 1978 and was subsequently sold to avis plc on 1988. In 1990 he acquired a controlling stake in Sanderson Murray and elder plc a textile business based in Bradford, with the intention of converting the company into a motor trade/and related business groupTthe textile interests were dispose of in 2002/2003. From 1990-2003 he took the turnover and profit from £22.6m sales and £800k profit to £1.86bn sales and £30.7m profit, selling the business in 2003 to Pendragon. He then started his third motor trade business, parts of which were sold to lookers where he serves as a non executive director and shareholder. His most recent venture, Bramall Properties Limited, is responsible for several substantial commercial and residential developments, has a significant property portfolio and provides funding for other property developments.

Michael Bridge Michael Bridge,

Having spent 15 years with Lyons working his way through the sales organisation to the position of National Account Manager He was head hunted by Sara Lee Bakery to build a retail business alongside their successful food service business worth £4.5 million. From virtually nothing he built the retail business to a profitable £45 million per annum in a five year period where he put in the support structure in a dynamic growing business. He then went on to work for twenty years for a $5 billion US corporation operating globally where he ran Sales & Marketing in Europe, Middle East and Africa. He had General management experience with P&L responsibility on several projects and also led a European acquisition and the integration of several others as part of a team. Michael has a Degree in International Business gained at the University of South Carolina. Today Michael is a business “Angel” for five businesses where his expertise is analysing a business and recommending (or implementing) a profitable growth plan through a Growth Readiness programme which he has used and developed over many years. Michael believes that the same business techniques are applicable to all sizes of business big or small. 

Robert Brocklesby Robert Brocklesby,

When Robert took charge of the Brocklesby business some 10 years ago, its turnover was £2m. Now the business has diversified into Adams & Green (animal feed ingredients) and has a JV with Greenergy Fuels and its combined sales are approaching £45m.They take waste oil from food manufacturers and process it into a bio diesel feedstock that ultimately gets blended into diesel for motor vehicles. Adams & Green takes crude oils such as rape, soy and palm and blends them into products that are used in animal feed manufacture; this business has grown from sales of £4m three years ago to sales of £25m this year. In addition they have a 50/50 joint venture which refines poorer quality oils into bio diesel.

James Cain James Cain,

James began and developed his management skills as ASDA’s youngest ever General Manager, when he was given overall responsibility for launching and operating their newest and largest distribution depot; employing 1,200 staff and servicing the ASDA network across the North West. James joined Harrogate Spring Water in 2006 with the turnover of £4m and was able to implement improvements across the business from production to logistics. James became Managing Director in 2011 and has transformed the business over recent times following major expansion in production capacity, taking sales from £4 million in 2006, to a forecasted turnover of over £14 million by the end of March 2016. This year the business was named in The Grocer’s Fast 50, as one of the fastest growing private food and drink companies in the UK. One of James’ proudest achievements has been the launch of ‘Thirsty Planet’ spring water. A dedicated charity brand, all bottles sold include a guaranteed donation to Pump Aid. So far, Thirsty Planet has contributed more than £1.8 million, providing over 1,350,000 people with clean, safe drinking water across rural sub-Saharan Africa. 

John Chalmers John Chalmers,

John started life in the north of Scotland as a stonemason and builder before being one of the last to be called up for national service in the RAF. After national service he signed on for 12 years and was mainly involved in aviation medicine. The RAF gave him the confidence and experience that have served him well since. After leaving the RAF he started as a builder in Yorkshire and after several years growing the business, he created a product needed by some stonemasons who were having difficulty with some old and tired stones.The business which is now the Wetherby Group was borne. The company manufactures performance building products which this year will have an approx retail sales value of £25m. To add to his remarkable achievements John learnt to fly at 75 

Neil Conlon Neil Conlon,

Conlon Construction was founded over 50 years ago by Neil's father and his 4 brothers. The company has a picture taken in 1956 of their first Tipper Wagon parked outside their lodgings in Tang Hall Lane,York so although most of the recent growth of the business has been over the Pennines, the early roots were in Yorkshire. They played a major role in the construction of the M6 in the 1960's during which time they consolidated their efforts onto one company. They are now on more than 15 Framework Agreements with many of the local authorities throughout the North of England, especially related to educational buildings, with over 75% of turnover being generated through partnering rather than competitive tendering. This collaborative approach to their business has helped to double its turnover and profits during the recession and Conlon now has sales of approx £50m. It is well placed to accelerate its growth over the next five years and part of this plan is to grow its Yorkshire business of which Neil is the MD. Having already completed several contracts in Yorkshire, the Yorkshire Division has a target of £8m turnover in 2015. 

Andrew Cope Andrew Cope,

Andrew was a founder member of Zenith Provecta in 1989, when he joined as Fleet Sales Executive. He progressed through the ranks to Sales and Marketing Manager and then Director, until his promotion to Managing Director in 1998. Andrew guided the company through four MBOs so has extensive experience of private equity and venture capital. He led the acquisition of Provecta Car Plan in May 2008 and the partnership with Morgan Stanley in 2011. Andrew was involved with, and for a long time responsible for, the growth of Zenith to a turnover of over £600m. Andrew left Zenith in 2014 and is now Executive Chairman of FMG Group, a vehicle claims management and vehicle recovery business which he has taken from £22m turnover in 2014 and 350 employees to a company which in 2015 will hit sales of £100m and a workforce of 290.

Charles Dent Charles Dent,

After qualifying as a chartered surveyor Charlie worked for Savills in London and then opened their office in York in 1980. In 1992 he joined Timothy Taylor & Co Ltd, his wife's family business becoming MD in 1995. At that time Timothy Taylor's turnover was £6.5m and its most famous brand Landlord was sold principally to free trade pubs and clubs close to the brewery in Keighley and through their own small chain of pubs. As the public's enthusiasm for real ales grew, Landlord grew in popularity and is now sold nationwide. In addition Timothy Taylor developed new beers to meet evolving tastes as well as rebranding Best Bitter Boltmaker. It was then listed by Tesco's and won Camra's Champion Beer of Britain 2014 to add to the many awards Landlord and other Timothy Taylor beers have won. Brewing top quality beers are the hallmark of Timothy Taylor. Sales now exceed £20m pa. Over the last five years the company has spent over £12m on, amongst other things, a new office, transport depot, new hop store, new fermenters, new barrel handling, cleaning and filling line and a new effluent plant and a new boiler with all major items bought from Yorkshire suppliers. Charlie stood down as MD in early 2015 and is now Chairman.

Barry Dodd OBE and CBE Barry Dodd OBE and CBE,

Barry Dodd founded GSM Group as a two person start up some 35 years ago. GSM is now one of the 50 fastest growing private companies in the UK with a turnover in excess of £50m. It has a very successful IT operation but its main business is the manufacture and supply of “bling” to the motor industry. In addition to growing the business organically, the GSM Group has made over 15 acquisitions varying from buying customer lists to multimillion pound share acquisitions. As a supplier to the motor industry, innovative products for each new model is vital to its success. GSM has a talented team of designers and engineers working at its factories in the UK, Germany and China.

Terry Donovan Terry Donovan,
Has an engineering degree, was trained at PwC and has an MBA from Bradford School of Management. He worked for a variety of IT companies before buying an IT subsidiary of Pilkington with his business partner. He took the turnover from £13m to £45m before selling it in 2001 which gave his VC backers a 10x return on capital.
Judith Donovan CBE Judith Donovan CBE,

Judith Donovan CBE founded her own marketing agency in 1982 after nine years as a graduate employee in marketing in both London and Yorkshire. She was one of the first female entrepreneurs in Yorkshire and was recognised as such with awards for ‘Yorkshire Business Woman of the Year’ and ‘Yorkshire Woman of the Year’; her business was twice featured in the Independent's ‘100 Fastest Growing Companies’. In addition she chaired the Bradford Training and Enterprise Council, was the first ever female president of Bradford Chamber of Commerce and appeared on the panel of BBC's ‘Question Time’ twice. In 2000 she sold JDA (£12.5 million t/o, 50 staff) to her managers and embarked a non–executive career, primarily in the Public and Third sectors, and currently is, amongst others, Chair at Eden Project Ltd and at Royal Mail’s Strategic Mailing Partnership. She has been a Millennium Commissioner, a Director of HSE and BIG Lottery Fund, Chair of Yorkshire Tourist Board and Vice Chair of Postwatch. She is an expert on and enthusiast for Direct Marketing and an accomplished public speaker on business issues.

Richard Doyle Richard Doyle,

Richard founded Esteem Systems in 1985 which he grew to a £30m IT infrastructure & Managed Services business. He sold Esteem to a BI/MBO team backed by Primary Capital in late 2004. Since then Richard has immersed himself in a variety of voluntary and commercial roles. He has been in the IT industry for 30+ years and now has various property and commercial interests including: Non Executive Chairman of and investor in Liquid Accounts (on line accounting software), NED/Investor Numecent (Cloud Paging software), NED of NYnet (Broadband provider) and NED/Investor in the Arena Group (print, copy & EDM solutions). He is also former NED Chair of Total Commerce Management (e-tail ISV) the business was sold in September 2010, a former member of the CBI Council for Yorkshire & the Humber, a former Town Councillor and a former governor of two of the region’s leading independent schools.

Neil Ewin Neil Ewin, Connect Gazelles Chairman

While researching for his MPhil at Sheffield Polytechnic during the mid 80s, Neil became involved with a local law firm and developed a conveyancing system for them. On completion of his Masters, Neil formed Solicitec (later renamed Visualfiles) to further develop and sell legal application software. The company grew to become the UK’s largest legal software specialist and was purchased by Lexis Nexis in 2006. Neil continued to work for the US parent company as VP of Information technology strategy until 2008 when he formed EW Development LLP with his previous business partner Mark Woodward with the aim of providing early stage investment and development advice to Yorkshire companies. Through EW Development, Neil has made a number of investments in fields as diverse as Drug research (Retrogenix Limited), Fine Furniture design (Neal Jones Furniture), High efficiency lighting solutions (Carbon Reduction Technology), Software (Intuitive Business Intelligence), Construction (Oaklands Properties Limited) and a French restaurant (Le Box, Boston Spa).

Hugh Facey Hugh Facey,

Founder and Chairman of award winning engineering group Gripple. Hugh’s Gripple concept started in 1986 when he ran Estate Wire – it was a chance remark from Welsh farmer about his struggles with erecting fencing that led to the innovatory product. After three years of working on the project the Gripple was launched. Estate Wire was sold to fund the new venture and Gripple Ltd came into being. Now one of Sheffield’s entrepreneurial successes the business has won countless awards for Innovation, Business Performance and Export.. Gripple has also gone on to spawned two other businesses, Loadhog, another trailblazing Innovatory Business and Incub – an incubator that supports and encourages young businesses with ideas and innovations. Gripple is all about innovation and forward thinking – all employees hold shares in the company and an employee trust is in place for the continuation of the business.

Richard Field OBE Richard Field OBE,

Former Master Cutler and President of the Sheffield Chamber of Commerce. Richard qualified as a chartered accountant, chartered marketor, and chartered director. After leaving the accounting profession, he became finance director of Bridon Wire, worked in business turnarounds, and chairman and chief executive of the Dyson Group PLC. Since then he has been mentor and coach to, for example, the executive boards of Yorkshire Water, Scottish Water, and Ofwat. He now co-facilitates a ten-day leadership programme, chairs and coaches technology companies, and coaches a number of executives and charities. He is a visiting Professor of Sheffield Business School, an Honorary Fellow of Sheffield Hallam University, and holder of the University of Sheffield’s Centenary Medal. 

Adrian Fitzpatrick Adrian Fitzpatrick,

Adrian founded the Arena Group as a six person start-up in 1991, after spotting a gap in the market for a company wanting to trade ethically and win long-term customer partnerships. Initially Arena’s business was primarily in servicing photocopiers; 25 years on, through a mix of organic growth and acquisition, Arena employs over 160 people across six regional offices and turns over in excess of £19m. With a portfolio covering print, copy and software for digital document management, the business now specialises in end-to-end solutions addressing every aspect of document creation, processing, storage and retrieval. Arena has won awards including The Times Best Company to Work for and numerous accolades for customer service excellence. Adrian attributes Arena’s ongoing success to the dedicated team of employees who lend the business a unique culture, customer-centric ethos and broad skill set. This high regard for quality people sees employees remaining with the business for many years – often welcoming family and friends into the fold. The future looks bright for Arena as it embarks on an ambitious plan to grow 10% pa over the next 5 years, through organic growth, acquisition and diversification. 

Larry Gould Larry Gould,

Is the embodiment of true entrepreneurialism, having driven thebigword from start-up to a company ranked 12th in the world in its sector. His enthusiasm for business, and harnessing and developing the skills of the people who work in it, is now focused on taking thebigword from its current turnover of £50m, with offices in 9 counties into the top 5 language service providers. Larry launched his first business, the Link Up Group recruitment and language services company, in 1980. Born in the depths of recession, the company started with two people, a desk and a telephone and over the next decade, grew to £20 million turnover with more than 100 staff. He subsequently sold the recruitment arm of the business to focus on language services - translation, interpreting, and language technologies.

John Graham John Graham,

John Graham is the joint founder of GO Outdoors, the UK’s largest specialist retailer of camping equipment, tents, outdoor clothing and footwear. Since its establishment in 1998, the company has grown to 50 outlets across the UK with over 2,000 employees. How has John and his team done this? A major part of the answer is its people. John Graham is unique and he has a unique approach to finding and rewarding people who fit the GO Outdoors ethos. Always at his happiest in the mountains, John is a keen climber and enjoys spending his free time with his family in the outdoors.

Simon Gray Simon Gray,

Launched in 2001, Boost Drinks was established when Simon Gray saw an opportunity to launch a value energy drink alternative into the newly emerging, high growth functional drinks market. In the subsequent years, the business has expanded its range, most recently introducing several new flavour variants in a response to changing consumer tastes and demands as well growing into the broader functional segments of isotonic sports drinks and glucose energy.
Since it launched, Boost has focused on building strong relationships within the wholesale and cash and carry channel, and today it is the only functional drinks brand portfolio that exclusively serves the independent convenience retail channel, a segment that is predicted to grow significantly by 2020. Almost 15 years after it launched Boost has grown its team, infrastructure and network of business partners and is set to deliver over £27m by the end of 2015.
As the business looks to the future, Boost's priorities are delivering profitable and sustainable growth through a focus on extending distribution in the UK as well as building upon it’s already established international footprint in several overseas territories.

David Grey MBE David Grey MBE,

Group managing director of the OSL Group. David set up his first company in 1981 and is now the group managing director of six manufacturing companies serving a global market, turning over £35 million plus and employing over 400 staff. David also plays an active role in the redevelopment of the Sheffield economy, and has been on the board of a wide range of key strategic groups in the city. He was awarded an MBE in the 2010 New Year's Honours List for his services to industry and regeneration in Sheffield and is also a member of the Sheffield City Region LEP Board. David is currently the Master Cutler and has over 500 appointments in his diary this year.

Jacqui Hall Jacqui Hall,

Jacqui joined CNG (Contract Natural Gas) in January 1998 when it had a turnover of £2m, became the interim CEO in 2004, the CEO in 2006 and since then has taken CNG to a current turnover of £240m with 104 staff and a 4% share of the commercial gas supply market. The company has grown by 20% pa and is the 8th biggest commercial supplier of gas meters in the country. In 2011 Jacqui led a management buyout from the family of the founder, the last stage of which was completed early in 2013. Supplying throughout the UK, CNG’s aim is to be the business gas supplier of choice - the real alternative to the BIG 6.

John Hall MBE John Hall MBE,

Prior to buying Volvox with LDC in 2005, John was CEO of Ring PLC a £90m turnover distributor of lighting and automotive products. Volvox Group engages in designing, manufacturing, and distributing products to transport industries, workshops, leisure, and the industrial consumables market. John has grown the company from modest beginnings to a turnover of over £50m and repaid the loans for the purchase of the business. Volvox Group is also involved in delivering mains power in vehicles from the 12v battery to developing eco-friendly wind-up torches. John was awarded the MBE in the 2015 New Years Honours List for services as Chairman of Hollybank Trust.

Alan Halsall Alan Halsall,

Qualified as a lawyer but soon left that profession to take over control of the family Toy Company where he stayed until 2006, when the company was sold to the management by which time it had achieved a turnover of £80m. In 2002 he purchased out of Administration Silver Cross, the famous pram company, and has been Chairman and sole shareholder since 2006. Since then Alan has built Silver Cross into a quality British brand with a turnover in excess of £20m. The company now supplies nursery products in twenty-six countries worldwide and is the only pram manufacturer left in the UK.

Rachel Hannan Rachel Hannan,

Rachel is a Business Angel who has invested in over 10 businesses in the last 4 years and been involved in the successful growth of many more as a Non Executive Director or Board Advisor. Her career started at Coopers & Lybrand, now PwC and over the last 20 years she has gained experience in corporate tax, corporate finance, HR & management consulting and executive recruitment. In addition she has been involved in two business start ups; a small manufacturing business in the mid 1990s which she exited with a 4 times return on investment after 4 years and more latterly GatenbySanderson. She co-founded GatenbySanderson, a search & selection company specialising in senior public sector appointments, with a previous PwC colleague in late 2002. Using her previous experience of starting a business, within 7 years it was a national market leader in its sector with a reputation for excellence and had reached a turnover of £23m and £4m PBT before she exited in early 2010. Rachel also dedicates time and funding to a number of not for profit organisations and has recently been appointed to the Board at the University of Bolton. 

Robin Hill Robin Hill,

After leaving university, Robin embarked on his sales career at Rank Xerox as a graduate trainee, learning the ropes from the ground up. A self confessed entrepreneurial sales professional, Robin has spent the vast majority of his career taking early stage companies to market, building substantial recurring sales revenues along the way. Having made many recruitment and process mistakes, Robin has created an economical and highly effective method for building sales teams. A method that he feels can be applied to most organisations. Robin has operated mainly in the IT sector starting with Boxing Orange, then Webscreen Technologies and most recently RandomStorm Limited which he formed in 2007 with Andrew Mason to supply network security services to a large cross section of companies both public and private. RandomStorm achieved meteoric growth in sales and was sold in early 2015 for £10m. 

Kevin Hollinrake Kevin Hollinrake,

Kevin has lived and worked in the North of England for most of his life. He started Hunters in 1992, co-founding the business with John Waterhouse, which is now the largest franchised independent estate agency brand in the UK and the 6th largest national estate agency business. Hunters have 140 branches nationwide including 30 in Greater London with gross turnover in excess of £25m. He is a keen sportsman, playing cricket, rugby and golf and is also interested in politics and at one time stood as a parliamentary candidate. Kevin has been an estate agent for more than 20 years, but after studying physics at Sheffield Hallam University he set up various businesses. Then he joined Prudential, at the time the largest estate agency in Britain as a branch manager, initially in Haxby, York and later in Burnley, Lancs. Five years later, in 1992, he and his original founding partner, John Waterhouse, started Hunters in Goodramgate, York.

Adrian Holmes OBE Adrian Holmes OBE,

From 1991 to 2010 grew a skills training business from 6 staff (£250k turnover) to 850 staff (£46m turnover). Inspired and envisioned the team to deliver what seemed impossible. In 2006 sold the majority stake in the business for an 8 figure sum. 2007 to 2009 turned around a second loss making (employment) business into a £4m EBITDA business. In 2007 diversified the business into recruitment to compliment the skills training business. Acquired 2 businesses, stripped out cost, integrated into core business, grew turnover and EBITDA (2007)' Raised group EBITDA organically from £4m to £8m to £13m in consecutive years to 2009. Refinanced the business in 2009  paying a dividend to shareholders of £15m. Now ESG, Employment and Skills Group with at £46m turnover. Successfully lobbied senior civil servants and MP’s on behalf of the employment and skills sector. 2011 Awarded an OBE for "services to skills and training.

Graham Honeyman Graham Honeyman,

In 1978 Graham Honeyman joined Parsons Turbine Generators Limited as a Research Metallurgist rising to Principle Engineer before joining Sheffield Forgemasters as Technical Director in 1988. In the early years of the 20th century the company suffered from poor management and increasingly difficult market conditions such that the turnover fell to £38m and the company was in financial difficulty. In 2005 Graham led a management buyout of the Company and was appointed Chief Executive. Since then he has guided Sheffield Forgemasters through the booms and busts of the last few years. Its annual sales are now in the region of £100m with a proportion of that coming from the provision of services which the company aims to increase to 30% of turnover within the next 5 years which will help to iron out the ups and downs. Forgemasters now has a workforce of 750 employees. Graham was awarded a CBE in 2008 and a Bessemer Gold Medal on 5 July 2012.

Gwyn Humphreys Gwyn Humphreys,

Gwyn is a bio-scientist by training, and has been involved in the biotechnology industry for over 30 years. Having spent 10 years in Celltech, the UK’s first biotechnology company, he was a co-founder in 1994 of Bradford Particle Design, a spin-out company from the University of Bradford which was developing technology for making highly defined particles for pharmaceutical applications such as respiratory drug delivery. He grew the company rapidly working with many of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies, and sold the company for $200M in January 2001 to a Californian biotechnology company, Inhale Therapeutics. Since 2003, Gwyn has been involved with a number of early-stage Yorkshire companies, and is currently Chairman of Avacta plc, interim CEO at Evocutis plc. He is also a non-executive director of a Canadian respiratory research company SolAeroMed Inc.

Richard Jackson MBE Richard Jackson MBE,

Richard started his career in the family textile business Centaur Clothes and during that period he bought a small car dealership selling 80 new and used cars. When he sold Nidd Vale Motors, the company was selling 5000 vehicles pa with an annual turnover of £70m. At the time of the sale he de-merged 3 Mercedes dealerships which subsequently achieved sales of £30m before it was sold. Over the last few years Richard has devoted huge efforts to charitable causes and is Chairman of the Yorkshire branch of the Prince's Trust as well as managing a portfolio of properties and private company investments. Richard is also non executive chairman of Skelwith Group and NCI PLC.

Julie A Kenny CBE DL Julie A Kenny CBE DL,

Top businesswoman, CBE DL, chairman and chief executive of awarding winning Pyronix Ltd. Julie is Managing Director of award winning Pyronix Ltd which she founded in 1986 and Chairman, CEO and majority shareholder of its parent company Secure Holdings Ltd.Based in Rotherham, Pyronix manufactures an extensive range of electronic security equipment for intruder alarms. Right from the start, there was keen focus on innovation and quality that enabled the company to obtain an initial toehold in the market place. The company now exports more than 50% of its annual turnover to 65 countries around the world. Julie is also Commissioner with the UK Commission for Employment and Skills, and Chairman and Director of the British Security Industry Association and sits on numerous boards and committees.

Julian Kynaston Julian Kynaston,

Julian founded Propaganda in 1993 growing it to be one of the most respected and successful marketing agencies in the UK. Julian maintains a major shareholding of the business and the position of executive chairman. Julian lists being part of the board of hair and beauty brand ghd, in which he took a central role in developing to be one of the UK’s fastest growing private companies in 2005, as one of his greatest achievements. He has also held non-executive positions at FMG and at Seabrook crisps, where he played a vital role in reforming the management team. He is also intensely proud of his creation, illamasqua, a global cosmetics brand, which was launched in 2008 at Selfridges, Oxford Street – the number one door in the world. Over the past two decades, Julian has been proud to receive a number of prestigious awards, recognising his successes and wider contribution to business. These have included Insider’s Entrepreneur of the Year and The Drum’s Marketing Services Head of the Year.

James Lambert OBE James Lambert OBE,

James joined Richmond Ice Cream in 1987 as CEO when it had 5 employees and sales of £250,000. By 2014 it had sales approaching £1 billion and 5,000 employees. During this period R&R Ice Creams grew both organically and made several acquisitions. In 1998 it acquired the ice lolly business of Treats plc and in subsequent years acquired the ice cream divisions of Allied Foods and of Nestle, a leading German ice cream manufacturer, the leading producer of premium Cornish ice cream, France's 3rd largest ice cream manufacturer, Italy's largest own label ice cream manufacturer and a long established Australian company with its portfolio of household name ice creams. In the 3 years between 2006 and 2009 R&R increased profits by 210% pa. During James' period as CEO, R&R has been successively owned by private individuals, listed on the AIM market and by two private equity houses in succession. In 2013 James stood down as CEO and became Executive Chairman and in the same year James was awarded an OBE and named E&Y UK Entrepreneur of the Year. James is also Chairman of Animal Care Group PLC and Burton's Biscuits Co.

Daniel Lee Bsc (Hons), MRPharmS, MBA Daniel Lee Bsc (Hons), MRPharmS, MBA,

Daniel has successfully altered the landscape of pharmacy practice within the UK which has resulted in the transformation of medicine access for patients. Daniel is a fully qualified pharmacist and is a member of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain and the General Pharmaceutical Council.  In July 1999 Daniel pioneered internet pharmacy in the UK with the launch of the UK’s first internet pharmacy business, Pharmacy2U Ltd. In 2000, he worked closely with the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain to amend its code of practice to allow for internet pharmacy and was instrumental in altering the landscape of pharmacy practice within the UK. Daniel has been responsible for re-engineering the dispensing process and developing the technology and operational capability required to deliver the most efficient pharmacy services. Daniel has been Managing Director of Pharmacy2U for 14 years and has successfully developed Pharmacy2U into the largest dedicated online pharmacy and medical services business in the UK.

Graham Leslie Graham Leslie,

Graham Leslie founded Galpharm International in 1982 with the aim of both becoming a successful company and reducing the cost of medicines in the UK. Over the following 26 years Graham and his team built Galpharm into the largest privately owned Over the Counter store brand pharmaceutical company in the UK with a staff of 60 in the UK and responsibility for the employment of a further 1250 in India and Asia. In doing so Galpharm was accredited with saving households in the UK £500m pa and saving the NHS £3.5bn. This was achieved mainly by switching pharmaceutical molecules from prescription only to OTC medicines. By 2008 annual sales of Galpharm International had reached £38m at which time the business was sold for $88m. Both before and since the sale Graham has been, and still is, involved in many voluntary roles including the creation of the Galpharm Stadium, being Resident Professor of Enterprise and Entrepreneurship at Huddersfield University as well as several new business ventures such as And finally to use Graham's own words “Serving an apprenticeship as a Serial Entrepreneur and investing time, knowledge and experience into expanding SMEs gives me enormous pleasure".

David Longbottom David Longbottom,

From a modest start at his father's butchers shop in Bradford, by 2005 David had built Pro-Pak Foods Limited into a business turning over £30m. After leaving school and college he joined a food processing business in Malton and became their factory manager by the age of 25. He and a colleague at the factory set up Pro-Pak and started by slicing meat as a sub-contractor but after 2 years managed to accumulate enough cash to be able to buy and slice their own meats at a much better margin. It was a highly competitive market so they moved into ready made meals which they sold mainly to small shops and convenience stores; their products had a shelf life of 21 days as opposed to most of the other ready meals only had 10 days shelf life. In 2001 he bought out his partner, moved into a new factory and in 2005 sold the company. David worked for the purchaser for 3 years and since leaving them has invested in several ventures.

Simon Mackaness Simon Mackaness,

Simon Mackaness’ principal achievement has been to create and develop the business at Rudding Park. This includes a holiday park, self-catering properties, golf course, conference and banqueting venue, hotel and spa. The business has always maintained the highest standards and the profits are continually re-invested in the business. For the last 3 years, the hotel has been rated by TripAdvisor's Travellers' Choice Awards as The No.1 Hotel in the UK and the marketing through TripAdvisor is fundamentally important to the success of the privately owned hotel which does not have the benefit of the economy of scale of a hotel group. Simon is a Chartered Accountant having qualified with KPMG in London. Prior to Rudding Park, he worked for Cawood Holdings plc specialising in the wholesaling of coal and oil, building materials and aggregates. He joined Lampways, a wholesale distributor of lamps based in Bradford, as Finance Director and later Chairman, until the Company was sold.

Russell Manning Russell Manning,

Russell started his first estate agency in 1976 based in Leeds City Centre. After 3 years he was the first agent to move out to the suburbs and over the next few years opened 3 more branches. In 1987 he sold out to Royal Insurance, who owned William H Brown, and became their regional MD responsible for 65 branches, gaining much experience in running a bigger businesses in the process. Russell left in 1990 and in 1991 founded Manning & Company covering North Leeds, and in 2000 merged with Staintons to form Manning Stainton. The business now employs over 200 people, operating from 18 Sales and Lettings branches, and 3 specialist departments, including Mortgages, Conveyancing and Auctions, across Leeds, Harrogate and Wakefield. The Company, which has an annual turnover of over £10m, is widely recognised as one of the top 20 leading independent agencies in the UK and has won a multitude of National Awards including Northern Estate Agency of the Year 3 years in a row.

Andrew Mason Andrew Mason,

Andrew is the founder of three technology businesses with his last company, RandomStorm Limited, being acquired on the 18th December 2014 in a deal worth £10m. Andrew took this business from 2 staff to just over 60 in under seven years all through organic growth. Growth of technology based startups are what drives Andrew and he is currently consulting with RandomStorm on the integration of the business to the larger PLC whilst planning the strategy for his next business. Andrew is technical by trade and has achieved many professional qualifications and is the author of seven Cisco Press Books; two McGraw Hill Books, numerous whitepapers and articles and most recently co-author of "Social Engineering Penetration Testing", published by Elsevier in June 2014. Andrew won the Insider magazine's Yorkshire Digital Entrepreneur of the Year Award 2014 and gained an MBA from Leeds University in 2014.

John McArthur John McArthur,

After training in the business consultancy practice at Arthur Andersen, John worked for several years in technology venture capital before joining IP Group Plc which had, and still has, a contract to commercialise the IP coming out of Leeds University. Tracsis was set up in 2004 to commercialise software which reduces costs and improves the efficiency of complicated transport networks. John was its first and only employee and today Tracsis now employs over 300 staff with turnover in excess £25m and profits of close to £6m. John has been the CEO of Tracsis from the start and has taken it through its very early stages, an IPO in November 2007, seven acquisitions, and to its current market capitalisation of approx £115m.

John McDonnell John McDonnell,

After graduating in 1987 with a degree in Electrical and Electronic Engineering, John started a full time job in sales at Thorn. Following that, experience in wholesaling and then electronics manufacturing at Arlen and Advanced Lighting gave him the tools to start his own business. Harvard Engineering, founded in 1993 had been a long term ambition for John. Building on his experience and spotting a gap in the market for compact electronics for 2D lamps, John started production of a design based on his University project in his kitchen. Soon after, a factory was established in Leeds, paving the way for the Harvard Engineering of today. Harvard Engineering is a world leader in the design, development and manufacturing of electronic HID ballasts, LED drivers and control products for the lighting industry. From a standing start Harvard has built its turnover to £36 million in 20 years and have been awarded the Queen’s Award for Enterprise: Innovation 2011. In 2013 a venture capital company ECI took a substantial sake in Harvard and in 2015 John left the business. 

Edward Naylor Edward Naylor,

Edward Naylor is a Cambridge Modern Languages graduate and double-prizewinning Chartered Accountant. He spent the first 8 years of his career in the City with accountants Deloitte, acquiring corporate finance experience and spending time on secondment in Germany. On the death of his father Allan in 1993, he took over as CEO of Barnsley based Naylor Industries plc, which at the time was a loss making £12m manufacturer of clay pipes. A programme of modernisation and diversification followed. The company launched a new plastic pipe business which now accounts for more than half group sales and developed its exporting activities. The Naylor group today is a broad based and profitable business with 5 sites and a turnover of £50m including exports to 65 countries. Its businesses are engaged in the manufacture of clay, plastic and concrete products and whilst it primarily supplies the construction industry, its Yorkshire Flowerpots division is now the UK’s largest manufacturer of terracotta gardenware. 

James Naylor James Naylor,

A graduate of Columbia Business School, James spent his early career with major international companies such as EMI. Cunard and Trusthouse Forte (THF). In 1983 he co-founded First Leisure Corporation PLC, which was an MBO from THF, and he became Joint MD responsible for 90 operating sites such as Blackpool Tower and Winter Gardens, leisure centres, discotheques and sports clubs. In 1988 he co-founded Northern Leisure plc and raised £36m in equity finance before establishing a group of 40 sites including bowling alleys and residential and care homes. In 1993 he joined City Centre Restaurants plc as CEO. While at City Centre he had the idea of establishing a restaurant chain providing both Italian and American food and so Frankie and Benny's was born. James was also responsible for the direction and growth of other restaurant brands including Cafe Uno, Garfunkels, Chiquitos and Deep Pan Pizza and increased sales from £89m to £205m achieving a 25% return on capital employed. James is now a non-exec Director of Burgess Group plc a Yorkshire based group with interests in pet foods and property.  

Kevin Parkin Kevin Parkin,

Kevin Parkin led an MBO in 2006 when Davy Markham had a turnover of £10.5m and was loss making to the tune of £2.4m and turned it round to sales of £21m and a profit of £1.2m which was sold in 2011 with the investors making a return of 10 times. This involved creating a new strategy of open management styles, effective internal communications, on time deliveries, becoming customer focused, reinstating the apprentice training scheme and making health and safety the number one business priority. Kevin is a no nonsense turnaround MD and General Manager of manufacturing companies with poor trading or profitability. He is the founder of Parkin Limited, the professional management and business Turnaround Company. He has multi-disciplined academic qualifications in Engineering, Marketing and Accountancy supported by twenty-five years of manufacturing experience at board level.

Stuart Paver Stuart Paver,

Pavers Shoes was started by Stuart's mother in York in 1971 selling mail order surplus through two warehouses and party planning agents. Stuart joined in 1980 and not long after that the company began to concentrate on the shoe market. Pavers Shoes now has 120 stores in the UK and 36 in India and was the first overseas retail company to be allowed to run their own stores in India. It has a strong online offering being one of the first retailers in Europe to go online and has its own TV channel on Sky 669 and its own studio. Its current turnover is £90m and Stuart expects to double in size in the UK in the next few years. Stuart puts the growth of Pavers down to focussing on its customers needs and delivering good quality products to meet those needs. 

Martin Penny Martin Penny,

Martin Penny co-founded Good Hair Day (ghd) in 2001 purchasing the rights to hair straightening irons from a South Korean inventor.  By the end of the second year revenues stood at £12million against the forecast of £3/4million; Martin spearheaded the growth of the business, including expansion with a range of hair care products, to achieve a £37million turnover within 3 years and by Year 10 had grown the business to £146mllion turnover and was named in the Sunday Times Fast Track as the 'Fastest Growing Company'. Today he is Managing Director and Chairman of environmental consultants OHS Ltd and recently launched Jack French Handbags Limited.

Martin Port Martin Port,

Founded Masternaut in 2002 as a pioneering technology business specialising in vehicle telematics and mobile software solutions. Masternaut was one of the first companies to offer ‘software as a service.Masternaut grew to become one of the UK’s fastest growing technology businesses, and had places in the Sunday Times Tech Track 100 in 2007, 2008 and 2009. In 2008, Martin was awarded the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award for Technology and Communications. By 2009 the company had reached a turnover of £25m when it was sold to Aéroports de Paris, Europe’s second largest airports operator. Martin was also involved in the combination of Europe’s leading telematics players, Masternaut and Cybit in 2011. Martin started Big Change Limited in October 2011 and has achieved 300% pa growth since then. Big Change Limited plans, manages and schedules a company’s transport needs and turned over £1.1m in 2014.

Chris Rea OBE Chris Rea OBE,

Managing director of AESSEAL -Chris started out manufacturing precision engineered mechanical seals for pumps at a Rotherham workshop in 1981 with just five staff, his business AESSEAL has now grown to a company with 1,268 employees, operating from 73 locations in 34 countries. Market coverage is global – 85 countries – with the USA accounting for more than a third of export sales. Overseas sales have increased by 107 per cent since 2003, and today around 80 per cent of its entire production is sold overseas. Last year the business achieved the £100 million annual sales milestone for the first time, capping 30 consecutive years of uninterrupted sales growth. Chris is now focussed on driving the business forward and developing AESSEAL the next generation.

David Richards David Richards,

President, CEO and Co-Founder of Wandisco plc which stands for Wide Area Network Distributed Computing "which makes software happen". Co-founded in 2005 by David Richards, Jim Campigli and Dr Yeturu Aahlad, WANdisco has dual headquarters in Silicon Valley and Sheffield. WANdisco grew, without raising any private equity, venture capital or angel finance to become a leading provider of global collaboration software to the software development industry. On June 1st, 2012 the company had a highly successful IPO on the London Stock Exchange raising over $24 million. The IPO was oversubscribed by over 300%. Prior to WANdisco, David served as the President and CEO of Librados, where he took the company from an early stage technology company to exponential customer and revenue growth. David led the company's acquisition by NetManage (Nasdaq:NETM) just over a year after joining the company. Following the successful acquisition he joined the executive management team of NetManage where he served as Vice President and General Manager.

Peter Roberts Peter Roberts,

Peter is a serial entrepreneur who has created eight substantial businesses of which the latest is Pure Gym. Peter started business life as a chartered surveyor and most of his businesses have combined property and leisure. One of his early businesses was Langdale Plc, comprising over 100 Scandinavian Style lodges and a hotel which he ultimately sold to Scottish & Newcastle Breweries which gave the private investors a 65% IRR over 9 years.  This was followed by Luminar Plc nightclubs and bars which became a public company in 1996.  Then Peter started Golden Tulip Hotels UK which yielded a 35% IRR over 5 years when it was sold to Whitbread Plc.  Peter started Pure Gym in 2008, an affordable gym chain which has grown to over 100 sites nationwide and plans to expand to 130 gyms by the end of 2015.  In addition Pure Gym has recently acquired LA Fitness which has 43 gyms.

Paul Rose FIoD Paul Rose FIoD,

Paul P Rose FIoD - CEO – Rixonway Kitchens, Paul’s background is Sales and marketing and he has over 30 years’ experience in manufacturing businesses in the building products sector. Paul joined Rixonway as Sales and Marketing Director in 1992. He was a key member of the management team that exited 2 VC’s during the mid 1990’s and in 2006 he led the MBO of Rixonway Kitchens, as CEO the business has more than doubled in size, employing 460 people and with a turnover of c£40m. In December 2014 Paul and the PE backers sold the business to the large Swedish Group Nobia in a deal worth £34m. 

Jonathan Sands OBE Jonathan Sands OBE,

Jonathan is Chairman of Elmwood, a global brand consultancy with studios in Leeds, London, New York, Hong Kong, Singapore and Melbourne, working with some of the worlds biggest brands. It holds the number one spot for effectiveness having won more DBA Design Effectiveness Awards than any other consultancy ever. In the last 5 years alone, Elmwood has also received well over 100 national and international design awards for creativity.

Andrew Seal Andrew Seal,

SIL Holdings Limited is a vertically integrated textile group delivering textile products to customers in more that 55 countries. Founded in 1970 by Andrew's father as a business trading in raw speciality fibres, the group now has five divisions, Seal International, the original fibre trading business, MBA the yarn trading and stockholding business, Joshua Ellis, a division specialising in the manufacture of cashmere woolen fabrics, William Halstead and John Foster a division involved in the production of worsted suiting fabrics and a contract furnishing business. All are UK based manufacturing companies. Since Andrew took over from his father in 1994 he has diversified and grown the business from a turnover of £20m and 21 employees to a turnover of £50m and 250 employees including 21 sales staff. The group is a sales based process and production company.

Chris Spencer Chris Spencer,

Chris qualified as a solicitor and in that capacity first dealt with EMIS Group when he helped set up the company for its founders Drs Peter Sowerby and David Stables in 1987. Chris joined EMIS Group in 1999 more than a decade before it floated on AIM. At the time it had 350 employees, now it employs nearly 2000, It floated at £3 per share, now the share price is over £10. At the beginning EMIS Group supplied software only for GPs but in recent years it has expanded into software for use in the community, high street pharmacies, hospitals and most recently into specialist healthcare sectors such as diabetic retinopathy screening. Over 50% of the GP surgeries in the UK, 36% of high street pharmacies, 20% of A&E departments, 30% of hospital pharmacies and 80% of diabetic retinopathy screening services, use EMIS Group software systems. Chris has been involved in the IT sector for over 35 years, including forming his own businesses, and as well as managing its IPO he has led EMIS Group in the many subsequent acquisitions it has made. Chris became CEO of EMIS Group in 2013 since when the net profits have increased from £20m (December 2012) to £32m (December 2014). 

Lee Strafford Lee Strafford,

Lee Strafford made his name with Sheffield based Internet provider PlusNet. He took PlusNet from 7 to 200+ people and from £0 to £100 million market cap, with the company eventually being sold to British Telecom for £67 million. While CEO, they went through three sale processes, 6 years as a reporting segment of Insight Enterprises Inc (NASDAQ listed Fortune 500 business), one AIM IPO, two and a half years as a PLC and were eventually sold to BT GROUP in January 2007. Lee has spent much of the time since the sale of PlusNet working with the Sheffield City Council and the two Sheffield Universities with a view to helping to create more technology start-ups in the region and establishing better support for existing technology businesses. In December 2010 he became a founding private sector board member of the Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership, working with a specific focus on the Creative and Digital industries agenda for the city region, and also working with the rest of the board on driving economic growth as a whole in the city region.

Jonathan Straight Jonathan Straight,

Is a pioneer of recycling in the UK and former Chief Executive of Straight plc. Jonathan has grown the company from a one man operation into the UK's leading supplier of kerbside recycling containers with an annual turnover of £30M.Whilst volunteering at a Leeds recycling charity Jonathan found a taste for the industry. He began working in the container business, initially as a consultant to the McKechie Group plc, before establishing his own company in 1993 supplying container solutions for separated waste. Following 10 years of sustained growth Straight joined the London Stock Exchange Alternative Investment Market with a view to fuelling further growth. Straight plc has supplied more than 25 million kerbside boxes, baskets and cadies to local authorities across the UK and has rapidly growing international operations. The company made two acquisitions that changed its business model, allowing it to manufacture almost two thirds of its products and reduce its reliance on outsourced manufacture. In 2014 an offer was received for Straight plc and Jonathan sold his shares and left the company. Jonathan is now pursuing new business interests.

John Sutcliffe John Sutcliffe,

John qualified as a Chartered Accountant before joining Abbeycrest Plc shortly after it was floated on the junior market of the London Stock Exchange in 1985. John spent 15 years at Abbeycrest which was a metal jewellery business with a manufacturing plant in Thailand before moving to Town Centre Securities plc which is a property investment and development business. He joined Henry Boot plc in 2006 as finance director and was promoted to ceo with effect from 1st January 2016. Henry Boot has 3 divisions, Hallam Land which obtains planning permission for residential developments, the Commercial Development arm which develops brownfield sites for commercial use and the Construction division which includes Decent Homes operating around the M1 and M62, Plant Hire mainly down the M1 and Road Link which operates the A69 between Newcastle and Carlisle. In the year to 31st December 2014 Henry Boot PLC turned over approx £147m.

Rodney Tennant Rodney Tennant,

Tennants Auctioneers started started life over 100 years ago and has been in the Tennant family for four generations. Rodney Tennant is the fourth generation and during Rodney's tenure, Tennants has moved from a primarily local auctioneer to become an important international auction house operating from large purpose built premises in the heart of the Yorkshire dales. Having opened a 40,000sq ft facility in 1993, a major expansion followed with Rodney being voted "Auctioneer of the Year" in 2001. In subsequent years offices were opened in Harrogate and Leicester and and in 2014 an additional 40,000sq ft facility was opened. The company now has a turnover of over £13m, 24 specialist departments, 56 full time staff, access to a host of international experts and worldwide and clients from the Far East, America, Australia and Europe. 

Jonathan Thornton Jonathan Thornton,

Jonathan qualified as a chartered accountant at one of the big 4 accountancy practices before joining the family firm Thornton & Ross in Huddersfield in 1983 when the company had sales of £16m. In 1990 his father retired and Jonathan became CEO and subsequently Executive Chairman until the business was sold in in 2013. During this period the business grew to sales of £70m from a combination of consistent organic growth of 5% pa and the acquisition of Over the Counter (OTC) medicines. Prior to its sale Thornton & Ross was the largest independent OTC pharmaceutical manufacturer in the UK and exported to over 80 countries worldwide. In addition to owning many well known brands such as Covonia and Setlers as well as the UK's leading disinfectant Zoflora, Thornton & Ross developed a new head lice product from scratch which in 4 years achieved sales of £15m.

Gerard Toplass Gerard Toplass,

Gerard Toplass started his career by becoming the youngest chartered accountant in England and Wales. After a few years in corporate finance at KPMG buying and selling companies, Gerard worked in industry for several years before he met Colin Chisholm and they went into partnership in Chisholm Computers. Gerard started selling computers on the phone and they eventually built Chisholm into a major supplier to the education sector with a factory in Hull making two thousand computers a month, employing 90 staff and turning over £20m before selling it in 2005 in an £8m deal. More recently Gerard acquired Claughtons Office Furniture, which primarily is a supplier to the education sector and in 2014 he created Frillo, an online supplier of all that businesses need. Gerard now invests and mentors businesses in the Education or IT sectors.

Jonathan Turner Jonathan Turner,

A self-confessed ‘calculated risk taker’, Jonathan graduated from Newcastle Business School and sold coal in the family’s business run by his father in 1986, just two years after the miners’ strike. Taking over as MD in 2000, he lead the family buy out FAMBO in 2004 in a textbook example of successful succession planning. Blazing an acquisition trail which included seven deals across 2003-2005 alone, his diverse companies in the Bayford Group span property, oil distribution, luxury holiday homes in Scotland and the high profile BE Fuelcards and The Right Fuelcard Company. In 2014 Jonathan spearheaded a ground breaking £6m multi-phase restoration of the Grade II-listed Bowcliffe Hall Estate which pays tribute to unsung Yorkshire aviation hero Robert Blackburn who hosted guests including aircraft pioneer Amy Johnson and Winston Churchill. The centrepiece of the multi award-winning scheme is the Blackburn Wing comprising a 2,060 sq. ft treehouse conference centre and event venue built in the shape of an airplane wing. The project has also converted redundant space - including a cricket pavilion that once housed Italian prisoners of war during the Second World War - into offices and includes a spectacular private members club, the Bowcliffe Drivers’ Club, whose glamorous and sumptuous surroundings pay homage to the 1920’s and the so called Golden age of motoring.

Sir Anthony Ullmann Sir Anthony Ullmann,

Anthony has spent almost 40 years in the textile industry latterly manufacturing and selling polyester yarn used in automotive interior trim by all the major car makers worldwide. In 1998 he, together with his business partner, created the company that is now Autofil Worldwide Limited when he bought Europe’s most modern state of the art manufacturing facility in Nottingham. Over the next few years he built the business to sales of £40m and a 35% share of the European automotive yarn market. In 2012 this culminated in the sale of Autofil to their long standing Italian partner Sinterama, which is a worldwide automotive yarn manufacturer with plants in Europe, the Far East and South America. Anthony is on the Board and is their Global Director of Automotive.

Sir Gary Verity Sir Gary Verity,

Sir Gary Verity was appointed Chief Executive of Welcome to Yorkshire in 2008 which was then supported by Yorkshire Forward. Since then he has built Welcome to Yorkshire into a private sector organisation with over 6000 members. He has successfully raised the profile of Yorkshire as a tourist destination at a regional, national and international level and has helped to increase the county’s visitor economy to £7bn. His latest and arguably greatest achievement was to bring the world’s greatest road race, Le Tour de France, to Yorkshire in 2014. Prior to that Gary gained a strong reputation as a results-driven Managing Director with international experience in brand building and managing complex businesses. Gary’s proven record of inspirational leadership ranges from entrepreneurial start-up situations to large-scale transformations within FTSE100 companies.  

Neil Warnock Neil Warnock,

Neil has built three IT companies from scratch into multi-million pound businesses. He launched Apertus Systems some 20 years ago, followed by Luminary Solutions in 2003 and his current company Bluesmith Information Systems in 2011. Both Apertus and Luminary were sold to U.S. multinationals for substantial sums. Bluesmith's principal offer is bespoke software development services, and Business Intelligence in the retail sector. They number Virgin Media, Morrisons, QPC and Oliver Wyman amongst their clients. A former IoD Director of the Year Award winner, Neil is a serial entrepreneur with a passion for early growth businesses, having invested in a further six Yorkshire-based start-ups.

Peter Wilkinson Peter Wilkinson,

There is no better known IT entrepreneur in Yorkshire than Peter Wilkinson. Peter founded STORM in 1983 and VData in 1998 and both these businesses were sold, in a reverse takeover, to InTechnology plc in 2000. In 1995, he started Planet Online Limited, the internet service provider, which was subsequently sold to Energis in 1998. He retained which was reversed into Sports Internet Group plc in 1999 and subsequently sold to BSkyB plc for £310m in 2000. In 1998, Peter invented the free ISP model Freeserve, the internet access service which was launched by DSG international plc.  Peter is non-executive Chairman of Mobile Tornado Group plc, an AIM listed telecoms technology company, and holds a 13.4% stake. InTechnology plc has a 49.8% stake in Mobile Tornado Group plc.

Cheryl Williams Cheryl Williams,

Cheryl Williams is CEO of Yorkshire Wildlife Park Foundation and one of the founders and owners of the UK’s number one ‘Walkthrough Wildlife Adventure’, The Yorkshire Wildlife Park. The park was built on the site of Brockholes Farm Visitor Centre, which closed to the public in November 2008. Cheryl and Neville Williams (experienced zookeepers from Woburn Safari Park) and business partner John Minion purchased the site in 2008 with funding from Lloyds TSB Commercial, private investment, and a Yorkshire Forward grant. The site was renovated over the 2008–2009 winter, and officially opened on 4 April 2009. The Award Winning South Yorkshire business went from zero to 353,000 visitors in 4 years, and has continued to see visitor numbers rise, with 556,000 in 2014, and is on track to reach 600,000 by the end of November this year.

Gav Winter Gav Winter,

Gav is Managing Director of The Test People Centre4 Testing (TTP-C4T) a nearly £30m turnover, 350 people business specialising in testing software and understanding operational risk of deploying IT systems. They are the UKs largest privately owned pure play testing consultancy, and now in the worlds top 5. This is a long way from 2006 when Gav left Accenture and set up The Test People with three other colleagues. They joined him in 2007/8, and the four of them won some major accounts such as William Hill, Hitachi & UKAR early on which gave them a sound footing to steadily grow the business up to sales of £11m. Gav worked in the business till 2011 and since then has worked on the business after completing the Goldman Sachs 10KSB programmes at LUBS & Oxford University. In 2014 they engaged private equity house, Living Bridge (formerly ISIS Equity), as an investor and in 2015 merged with Centre4 Testing a company already on their portfolio. Gav won the title of the IOD's Yorkshire Director of the Year in 2015 (runner up in 2014 to Gary Verity) plus the SME title in 2014 & 2015. TTPC4T now have 20 awards to their name in total. 

Mark Woodward Mark Woodward,

After graduating from Liverpool University with a degree in Computer Science and Business Studies, Mark started his career with NCR selling computers to the financial sector. After 3 years of excellent training he decided to broaden his skillset within a smaller company and in 1990 joined Visualfiles. In 1992 Mark was made Northern Area Sales Manager and then Sales Director in 1993. In 1996 Mark became Managing Director keeping responsibility for sales, but adding customer services, finance and HR. Mark’s skills include motivation, contract negotiation, sales, presentations and organisation. In 2006 Mark lead the sale of the business for in excess of £20m working very closely with financial and legal advisors to maximise value for the shareholders. After the sale, Mark became a member of the UK Lexis Nexis Management Board. Since leaving in 2008, Mark has invested in 3 new businesses and is now the Commercial Director of Earthmill Limited and a Non Executive Director of 2 other businesses.

Edward Ziff Edward Ziff,

Town Centre Securities PLC is arguably Yorkshire's most successful property company. It owns the Merrion Centre in Leeds and 70 other commercial properties which are located in most of the major cities in the UK.
The Company was founded in 1959 by Edward's father Arnold Ziff who was Chairman until his death in 2004. The Company floated on the Stock Exchange in 1960 and its shares have seen a steady increase in value since then. Since Edward became the CEO in 2001, the property portfolio has continued to grow in value as has the share price. £1000 invested in the Company in 1969 would have been worth £562,000 by 1st October 2014 and worth £645,000 by 1st February 2016. During the late 1990's and early 2000's Edward carried out a major restructuring of the property portfolio disposing of smaller properties and purchasing larger ones including car parks.