We meet the finalists for the 2018 South Wales Argus Business Awards and find out their stories... 

Best BID Independent Business of the Year: 
Sponsor: Newport BID

This award goes to the profitable BID levy-paying independent business in the Newport BID area which has increased its potential over the last financial year, the size and age of the business will be considered against its financial performance. Judges were interested in innovative products services and processes as well as expansion into new markets and different areas of business activity. In addition the judges wanted to know more about the ‘personality’ of the business, the qualities which make the business successful.

 Liverton Opticians
 Charles Street, Newport

Liverton Opticians is an independent business which recently opened in the heart of Newport city centre. 
Starting up with no database just 19 months ago, it has established a loyal patient base through the team’s hard work and personalised customer service. 
Consisting of a knowledgeable team of just three, with more than 50 years of optical experience between them, Liverton offers Newport comprehensive eye exams, with the most recent technology, to provide unique ophthalmic health care for everyone.
Catherine, Natalie and Rachel make up the Liverton team. They said: “We entered the business awards as we wanted to take the opportunity to establish ourselves as an independent business in Newport city.
“Winning a South Wales Argus Business Award would mean a great deal to us, as it will be a fantastic opportunity to get our name recognised and to be rewarded for the service we pride ourselves on.”

Kymin Financial Services
Bridge Street, Newport

Leading financial planning and advice firm Kymin Financial Services, which is celebrating 25 years in business this year, is not only supporting the inaugural South Wales Argus Business Awards as sponsor of one of the categories, but it is a finalist in another.
Founded in 1993 in Monmouth and based in Bridge Street, Newport since 2002, Kymin employs a team of nine financial planners along with five para planners and support staff.
Kymin, managing director, Robin Hall said: “We are proud to be a sponsor in this year’s South Wales Argus Business Awards. Being a small business ourselves we recognise the hard work, commitment and determination it takes to build a business into a successful one.
“We have more than 25 years of experience dealing with small business owners and entrepreneurs and over this time we have seen many of these companies grow with us.
“I believe it is important for businesses and individuals to enter awards such as this. We’re delighted to have shortlisted as a finalist for the best BID Independent award.
“Winning an award such as this would be a celebration of what we and our business has achieved. Not only will it raise our profile and provide great publicity for the firm, winning an award can help set a business against its competitors. Every type of business is extremely competitive these days and in order to thrive you should try and differentiate yourself from the competition. 
“Kymin constantly strives to support the local economy by employing local people and using as many local suppliers as we can in the day to day running of the company. 
“We get involved in the local community and charitable events as often as we can. We felt by supporting the South Wales Argus Business Awards we are again putting something back into the city of Newport.
“We’d be thrilled to lift the award especially in the inaugural year that the South Wales Argus Business Awards have been staged.”  

Diverse Vinyl
Charles Street, Newport

Diverse Vinyl is the sister company of Diverse Music, one of the last remaining independent record stores in South Wales.
Its LP mail order department was set up around April 1995, a time when vinyl was in its darkest days. Many of the major new releases were CD only, import pressings were thin on the ground (literally in some cases) and record stores had stopped making room for vinyl in their racks. 
Contrary to popular belief however, vinyl was still alive, and Diverse Music continued to stock all new releases on vinyl, as it always had done. 
It soon became apparent that not only were it was the only shop in South Wales with a decent stock of vinyl and customers all over the UK were contacting them, desperate to for new vinyl releases that weren’t available in their local stores. 
With the launch of the internet, its stock was suddenly easily available to vinyl junkies all over the world, with its site becoming a major portal for analogue fans worldwide.
Diverse Vinyl recognised the potential for high quality re-releases, and continues to be one of the largest retailers of audiophile vinyl and also other digital audiophile formats. 
Its label Diverse Records joined the party in 2002, with an eclectic catalogue of high quality contemporary releases across many genres. 
Its website lists all current stock items, and the team aims to keep up to date with all international vinyl releases. The catalogue changes every week.

Best BID National Business of the Year: 
Sponsor: Newport BID

The award will go to the profitable BID levy-paying national business in the Newport BID area which has increase its potential over the latest financial year, the size and age of the business will be considered against its financial performance. Judges were interested in innovative products, services and processes as well as expansion into new markets and different areas of business activity. In addition judges wanted to know more about the ‘personality’ of the business, the qualities which make the business successful.

Admiral Group plc
Admiral House, Queensway, Newport 

Admiral launched in 1993 with just one brand, zero customers and 57 members of staff. It now offers motor, home and travel insurance as well as personal loans and car finance in the UK, and has operations in Spain, Italy, France, the US and Mexico with over six million customers and 10,000 staff worldwide.
Natalie Grimwards, of Admiral, said: “We opened an office in Newport in 2004 in Langstone Business Park and moved to our specially built office in the city centre in June 2014 with 450 members of staff. We now have more than 1,000 members of staff based there.
“We were kindly nominated for this award by Newport BID. We would be privileged and delighted to win a South Wales Argus Business Award. 
“We are proud to be part of south east Wales community which has welcomed us with open arms since we first expanded into the area. 
“Our office in Newport continues to go from strength to strength and that’s thanks to the staff there who work tirelessly to provide great service to our customers. To have their hard work recognised would mean a great deal to the company.”
Austin Friars, Newport

The Newport city centre branch of Specsavers is run by Jason Williams, director,  Craig MacKenzie and Andrew Bowers.
The team said: “We are a city centre opticians, which traditionally has conducted sight tests and sold glasses and contact lenses. 
“More recently we have expanded our involvement in eye health and are now involved in a number of shared care initiatives with our local health board and hospital, which includes an NHS Ophthalmic Diagnostic and Treatment Centre run by Aneurin Bevan University Health Board. As well as this we also now also offer a private audiology service.
“The business originally opened in Newport in 1988 with two sight test rooms. We are now in our third location and have eight sight test rooms and one audiology room. We employ more than 50 full and part time staff.
“We entered awards because we wanted to show our support to the Newport BID area, and although we are a national business located within the BID area, Specsavers is a quite unique set up in the optical and retail world. The organisation structure is one of a Joint Venture Partnership, which is a partnership between Specsavers Optical Group and local opticians who own and run their own business under the Specsavers banner. 
“We have three optician partners and believe that having a long-term vested interest in your own business means that we constantly focus on giving great customer service, so that customers continue to want to come back to us time and time again.
“We participate in many programmes to ensure a high level of customer service, such as mystery shopper programmes and customer feedback programmes which give us real customers feedback daily direct to the stores owners and management. 
“It would be fantastic to win one of the South Wales Argus Business Awards after being in the city centre for so long.
“It would be great recognition for all the hard work our team put in day in day out to be recognised by the local community which they serve day in day out.”

The Entertainer
Austin Friars, Newport

The Newport branch of The Entertainer is one of 147 around the country.
The firm was founded in 1981 in Buckinghamshire by husband and wife team, Gary and Catherine Grant, who instilled the driving force and mission; to be the best-loved toyshop – one child, one community at a time. It continues to be a privately-owned company and is renowned for being the largest independent toy retailer in the UK.
As well as a strong high street presence, The Entertainer has a successful website – TheToyShop.com – which offers a 30-minute click and collect service and has 22 million visits annually and growing. 
The company is also recognised for its charitable giving. Each year it gives 10 per cent of its net annual profit to charity, in addition employees are encouraged to donate directly through Payroll Giving. 
The Entertainer currently employs more than 1,200 staff across the stores and a further 160 in the head office in Amersham, Buckinghamshire.
A spokesman for The Entertainer said: “We were nominated by the Newport BID for the award and are very honoured that they thought enough of us to enter us – so thank you!
“We are incredibly proud to be part of the Newport community and so being shortlisted, let alone winning, means a huge amount to the store team. We strive to do all we can for our customers and our community and so to be recognised in this way is especially meaningful.”   

Contribution to the Community: 
Sponsor: Monmouthshire Building Society 

This award aims to recognise a business or organisation which has demonstrated responsible business practice across the four areas of local community, environment, and their people and supply chain. Judges were looking for evidence of a contribution to the overall wellbeing of the community, its environment and general quality of life. Applicants needed to demonstrate a working partnership using positive influences to support suppliers and other partners to adopt best environment workplace and community practice. The project or initiative demonstrated by the applicant must have been completed or at least have reached a meaningful stage with in the past 12 months.

St David’s Hospice Care
Blackett Avenue, Newport

St David’s Hospice Care was started in 1979 when Heulwen Egerton set up the ‘Gwent Hospice Project Group’ to help remedy the lack of palliative care available to the people of Gwent. 
A spokesman said: “From our first year of operation, when St David’s cared for six patients. It has grown to become the UK’s largest provider of hospice at home care, employing 250 staff and caring for more than 3,200 patients and families every year.
“We entered the Contribution to the Community Award after some kind words of encouragement from one of our brilliant supporters. It made sense to enter this category as St David’s Hospice Care exists to help and support the people in our community who need us.
“Winning this South Wales Argus Business Award would be amazing. A testament to the hard work and dedication of all the staff and volunteers who make the organisation what it is. 
“They put everything into helping others so it would mean a lot to be able to show them how much their contribution is appreciated from the perspective of the business community.”

Phil Bessant Limited
Caerau Road, Newport

Phil Bessant Limited is a firm of chartered management accountants providing accounting tax and business advisory services to mostly local clients although we do have clients in West Wales, and the north as well as London. 
A spokesman said: “As PBL we have been trading a little over six years and currently employ eight members of staff, including three qualified accountants. Prior to forming PBL the business actually started in 1994.
“We aim to provide a service to our clients which assists them to achieve their own work/life balance by growing the profitability of the business through our benchmarking expertise as well as accounting and business knowledge.
“Our mantra is to develop a strong business that supports and works with local businesses as partners, ensuring that all partners are treated equally and benefit equally from the relationship. 
“The community charity work is just one way we meet this promise.
“We decided to enter the awards because our clients, family and staff have been absolutely amazing in helping us achieve our charitable goal and feel that recognition would be as much a reward and thank you for them as for us. 
“They deserve all the accolades because without them we would never have achieved the goal.
“Winning this award would be an amazing reward to my staff and clients and family who have supported us along the way. 
“We have committed to facilitating our clients wish to be supportive of the community and to be able to say to them look at what we have won would be the best way of thanking them for the commitment and support.”


The successful community projects at Rodney Parade have been fully embraced by the Dragons. The impact of the regional structure is that the community activities have expanded to incorporate more schools, more clubs and new initiatives. 
The projects have progressed and continue to develop links with educational organisations and the local community, which includes schools, local clubs, businesses and the youngsters of the region. 
The club is proud to be a Dementia Friendly Region having been awarded the Alzheimer’s Society Kitemark in 2017. 
It has a comprehensive package of community activities including:
• The Gateway Rugby Project: A primary school sporting and social development programme 
• The Second Half Project: Stadium Tour and Education experience 
• Value Added Education – iValue Dragons Digital Education days to include ibeacons stadium tour
• Foundation Degree: Rugby Coaching and Development - USW/Dragons/WRU Partnership
• Participation to Pro – Opportunity to watch Dragons train at CCB Centre for Sporting Excellence, Ystrad Mynach training base
• Region on the Road – Community support of festivals, school sessions, careers fairs, club recruitment days and special events
• Rodney on the Road – Dragons mascot special visits to schools, clubs and community events
• Annual Dragons Community Tag Rugby Festivals 
• Rugby Inspires Programme: Alternative learning for excluded and disadvantaged groups 
• Inclusion Provision – Homeless Rugby, Disability, Deaf, SRtRC, Mixed Ability, BME Engagement, Women and Girls Cluster Rugby support
• Alternative Provision – Cage Rugby and Dragons Passing inflatable to inspire our young rugby enthusiasts.
• Tackle Project: Collaborative community rugby and Secondary education programme for disadvantaged young people in Wales.
• Work Experience Programme: In partnership with Secondary schools across the Region.
• Holiday Rugby Skills Development Camps – six to 14 years to include Pro camps
• Gift of Dragons Rugby – Community Ticketing Scheme: Rugby4All
• Dragons Match Day Experience: Guard of honour, official mascot, official community guests, pitch parades, lap of honours, entertainment and family zone activation
• Judgement Day Activation with our regional mini and junior clubs
• Dragons Match Day Collections: Supporting local and national charities 
• Welsh Language support through collaborative work with local agencies
• Community ambassador scheme: Matchday volunteering opportunities
• SPICE partnership to support volunteers through time credits at Dragons matches
• Community/Partners matchday competitions.
Customer Service Award: 
Sponsor: Friars Walk/The Kingsway Centre

The award will go to the business which has provided the best service to the local community. The business will be seen to be regularly going ‘above and beyond’ the call of duty to ensure that their customers receive excellent service. The award will be presented to the business which has demonstrated excellent business acumen and high achievement in business.

Liverton Opticians
Charles Street, Newport

Austin Friars, Newport

Manic Mechanics Newport Ltd
Kings Parade, Frederick Street, Newport

Manic Mechanics Newport Ltd has been established for five years. It services, repairs and carry out MOTs on all cars, vans, motorhomes and minibuses.
The team can carry out tyre and exhaust repairs and also air con. 
Brett Sayce, of Manic Mechanics, said: “Myself and my business partner Shaun Davies started the business with two other members of staff. Five years later there are eight of us.
“Customer service is our main focus as a business. Our reviews online and on Facebook show this. We do minimal advertising and our work comes from recommendations and referrals. 
“Every customer is as important as another, no matter how much they spend. So this is why we are entering this category.
“To win this award would mean the world to us and would show us what all of our hard work has achieved over the years.”

Entrepreneur of the Year: 
Sponsor: Johnsey Estates

The award is open to business people enjoying success in building their new business or to those employees that have had an outstanding impact in contributing in the successes or a larger organisation. Applicants needed to demonstrate ambition energy skill and vision as well as tangible business success. Applicants were judged on their personal involvement in the company’s growth or expansion its move into new products, services, markets or new areas or business activity.

Kelli Aspland and Laura Griffin
Solar Buddies, Chapel Street, Pontnewydd, Cwmbran

Solar Buddies is a product which has been created out of a need by parents for children, helping them apply sunscreen while in school independently.   
Solar Buddies now helps alleviate the ‘no touch policies’ which are in place at most schools, where teachers are unable to assist the children in this process.
Solar Buddies as a company offers a product which promotes healthy living and independence to children with all types of needs.   
The company, founded in 2014 and trading since July 2015, employs five people. 
Kelli and Laura said: “With our sun safe message we aim to help bring more awareness to the harmful effects of sun damage with our new line of school workshops and presentations along with our Solar Buddies Sunscreen Applicator.
“We are still only a young business of three years with an innovative product but what we have accomplished in these three years and the growth we have seen, we believe has shown great entrepreneurship especially due to us not having any business background or design qualifications.  
“We have taught ourselves from scratch about everything we have needed to do to achieve our skills needed to keep our business growing.  
“With the help of local businesses and advisors and their expert advice and experience, we have been able to set ourselves on the right path to grow.
“Winning an award would be a fantastic achievement for us, to have the recognition from local businesses would be a credit to us here at Solar Buddies.  
“Also with it being the very first South Wales Argus Business Awards and to even be part of this and to be shortlisted is an honour.  
“As a local business to South Wales, we have had great support from our fellow businesses and community and it would be great to share our achievement with them.”  

Peter Lewis, managing director
Industrial Automation and Control Ltd   
Delta House, Meadows Road, Newport

IAC is electrical systems integrator business, designing and manufacturing industrial control systems for heavy industry. 
The company has been in business for 30 years and currently turns over around £8m per annum. IAC employs 75 people at the Meadows Road site and also from a unit in Cross Hands, Carmarthenshire.
A spokesman said: “We are delighted to have been shortlisted for four awards; Large Business of the Year; Environmental Business of the Year, Training and Development Award and our managing director Peter Lewis in the Entrepreneur of the Year category. 
“We’re very pleased as we believe our apprentice scheme is one of the best in the region. As regards the environmental award  we believe that industry should be doing more to protect our environment. 
“As regards business in general we genuinely believe that we are a model of how a responsible business should behave.
“Winning one of the South Wales Argus Business Awards would mean recognition of the effort that our entire team has put in to keep us in business during difficult times. The award would go to show that responsible business principles can work and make sustainable companies.”

Ray Adams, director
Niche IFA, CashCalc, AdviserBook and Niche Sports
Waterside Court, Albany Street, Newport

Ray Adams is director of Niche IFA, Niche Sports, CashCalc and AdviserBook, a Chartered Financial Planner. He is also a Fellow of The Personal Finance Society. 
Over the past few years, Ray has aimed to improve the financial services industry through developing helpful online financial planning tool, improving the financial planning process and service clients receive throughout the country. 
Ray deals with the day-to-day direction of the companies and their strategic development, as well as representing them at presentations and events across the UK. 
Each company has been started from scratch, and all have today grown to offer valuable services to the financial profession.
Niche IFA is a firm of chartered financial planners offering tailored advice in diverse fields, from mortgages to pensions.
CashCalc was developed by a team of financial planners in 2014. It is now the market leader in cashflow planning fintech, with more than 9,000 users across the UK and Ireland, and is used in five out of seven continents. Financial planners have used the software to plan for more than £56bn worth of assets.
AdviserBook was set up by Ray in 2017 to make the process of finding the right financial adviser easier for prospective clients as well helping them avoid being scammed in using unregulated financial advice. 
The independent search engine is the UK’s first definitive directory of regulated financial planners, where prospective clients can filter results based on their location, and specific adviser specialisations such as pensions or cash flow planning.  
Niche Sports was established in 2018. It delivers specialist financial advice and insights to sports professionals, to better help them understand and secure their financial future through what can often be an unpredictable sports career.
A spokesman said: “We are passionate about seeing Ray gain the recognition he deserves. Ray has gained significant success across his multiple companies which have contributed so much to the local community, as well as the financial industry as a whole. 
“Not only this, but Ray is a staunch advocate of providing opportunities to staff of all backgrounds and levels. 
“With all four businesses start-up initiatives, they have got to where they are today through the encouraging ideas from staff and fostering an entrepreneurial atmosphere where individuals are able to develop their own ideas.
“Winning a South Wales Business Award would mean the world to Ray, and all the team at Niche, CashCalc and AdviserBook.
“Not only would it act as recognition of all the hard work that has gone into transforming the company into its current success, but we also hope this will further incentivise our teams to propel us even more so. 
“Our overarching objective is to improve the quality of financial advice available to the public locally and nationally – winning this award could be the next step in achieving this target.”

Environmental Business Award: 
Sponsor: University of South Wales

This award will go the company which has demonstrated outstanding commitment to manage the environmental impact of its business or has developed its own business in the field of managing the environmental impact of either businesses or the wider community. Such improvements include actions to reduce emissions, waste or noise, improve raw materials use or transport efficiency, clean up land and reduce the impact of the business activities on neighbours. The project or initiative demonstrated by the applicant must have been completed or at least have reached a meaningful stage with the past 12 months.

Industrial Automation and Control Ltd.   
Delta House, Meadows Road, Newport 

Friars Walk Shopping Centre,

Emily Grimes, deputy centre nanager, said: “Friars Walk is a shopping centre in Newport which opened on November 17, 2015. 
“I have been deputy centre manager here since September 2017. There are six people in the management team, nine security guards and 15 cleaners.
“I decided to enter the awards as we have been working hard as a team to improve the waste and recycling at the centre. 
“We have spent time retraining the tenants who had slipped into bad habits and, with the support of the tenants and the positive attitude of the cleaning team, we are starting to see some great results which we wanted to share.
“To win an award would be great for the centre as we could share this with our tenants and the centre team to show that all the hard work we are doing is having a positive impact, not only on the environment but that this is also being recognised and this would help to encourage further recycling at the centre.”  

Purely Disposables
Foundry Road, Abersychan

A spokesman said: “We are a company which was started in 2016 by a husband and wife team who wanted to provide a solution to single use plastic packaging such as plastic bags, foam containers and plastic-lined hot cups. We now supply more than 150 products all designed to be good for the environment when disposed of.
“We are Wales’ only 100 per cent earth-friendly packaging company which provides only packaging products which are good for the environment. They all break down within 13 weeks and turn into ecologically positive compost.
“All of our products are made from either Food Stewardship Council wood stocks or made from corn/sugar waste generated by the food industry. So our products are made from plants and are certified to our Feed a Field standards, which means they create at least 68 per cent less carbon than their plastic alternative and come from plants and can be used to feed plants.
“We currently only employ two people within the online retail side of our business but we have really exciting plans which will greatly increase our head count over the next five years.
“We are working with a research organisation on a new polymer that we hope will replace all single use plastics within 10 years. Should this prove to be as successful as our current research shows, we will be opening our own research facility to test our future library of polymers for multiple use from hot, wet and dry packaging so that it can be used in food retail as well as the food service industry, we are already finding new uses for our researched products all the time.
“The future research facility will also be used to certify compostable packaging and to create a biodegradable certifiable and quantifiable standard for biodegradable products which current has no set standards to adhere too. 
“We also have plans to open a manufacturing facility to sell a manufactured compostable polymer that can be used by the international packaging manufacturer to create compostable earth friendly packaging solutions.
“The eventual aim will be to create a research facility, compostable library of polymers for licensing, to become a certification body for compostable and biodegradable packaging and to create a food packaging manufacturing business based in Wales.
“We chose the enviromental business category as it fits our business type and our mission to create earth friendly packaging.
“It would be a huge achievement for our business as it would help to promote and educate other businesses about what we do and the kudos would be a huge PR plus and just as importantly it may encourage more businesses to go earth friendly.”

Family Business of the Year: 
Sponsor: MHA Broomfield Alexander

The award was open to first generation family-owned businesses, multi-generational businesses and publicly-owned firms which found families still holding a significant stake. Entrants were judged on how the profitable business has increased its potential over the last financial year; the size and age of the business was considered against its financial performance. The judges were also looking to see how the business demonstrated best proactive in aspects such as working with non-family members, developing younger family members/future leaders and implementing successful generation transitions.

Lifesize Models
The Shed, River Row, Cwm, Ebbw Vale

Lifesize Models designs, manufactures and supplies lifesize models of pretty much anything you can imagine, from dinosaurs to dogs, giraffes to goats, turtles to tigers, home/garden sculptures, furniture and statues. 
The original sole trader business started operating in 1998 and was taken over by Lucy and Ben Powell in 2016, rebranded and promoted. 
The business currently employs two people full time and one person part time. It is looking to employ another two people full time within the next year as the business expands and diversifies.
Lucy and Ben said: “We truly are a family business having been started more than 20 years ago by our father. Although we have all (brothers and sisters) helped over the years, we took over the reins two years ago – the next generation are now becoming involved.
“We pride ourselves on customer service and a ‘can-do’ attitude. We entered as we felt they were the most relevant to us.
“The business has operated for more than 20 years but because publicity was never courted or any substantial marketing undertaken, we are still relatively unknown in Wales. 
“This is despite having supplied all the dinosaurs at Dan-Yr-Ogof, hundreds of leisure attractions across the UK and many more clients across the world including celebrity clients such as Tim Burton, who visited The Shed in Cwm – and not a lot of people know that!
“Winning this award would not only raise awareness of our company within Wales and the UK, but also provide recognition for the hard work we have put in over the last two years in evolving the family business and bringing it into the 21st century.
“We are proud to be based in Cwm, the village we grew up in, and this award would help raise the profile of the Ebbw Valley and the wider Blaenau Gwent region.
“We have huge ambition and believe we are already punching above our weight.”

The Escape Rooms Newport (LLP)
The Royal Chambers, Griffin Street, Newport

Escape Rooms are a fairly new phenomenon in the leisure and gaming industry. 
At The Escape Rooms Newport, playing in groups of two to 12 players at a time, players are locked into their choice of the two themed rooms and have up to an hour to work as a team in order to escape. 
Rated number one in Trip Advisor in the Fun and Games category for Newport and with more than 150 five-star reviews on Facebook, The Escape Rooms has been exceptionally well-received since its launch in May 2017.
They are run by Malpas born and raised, siblings Elinor and David Daniel. 
With age restrictions in place both rooms at The Escape Rooms Newport is interactive, very story-driven and contain scary elements and an overall feeling of danger and threat – they are not for the faint-hearted.
Elinor and David said: “As the business is 100 per cent family run and owned, entering this category seemed an obvious choice.
“While we’ve received a lot of help and support from further family members and friends to get the business off the ground, it has been a family venture from day one.
“We are happy to reveal that in a very short time we have recouped all of our start-up costs which were largely covered by crowd funding via Kickstarter and are now running at a healthy profit – all of which is being reinvested into expanding the business. 
“We have partnered up with our close neighbours Tiny Rebel bar to offer hospitality packages allowing much larger groups (conceivably up to 36 players over an evening or afternoon) allowing us to branch out into corporate/team building events which have proven very successful.
“To win an award, in either category would be a great honour as it would mean that, in some small way, we were being recognised as having a part to play in the ongoing success of a city that we both firmly believe is on the rise. 
“By setting up our business in the city centre, we are investing our time and energy (not to mention blood, sweat and tears!) into drawing people into the city which we are proud of. 
“For us to be recognised by our local peers as having been successful in our mission (so far) would give us great pride and would, no doubt be a fantastic feather in our cap in generating future business.”  
Tovey Brothers
Cardiff Road, Newport

Tovey Bros is a family-owned and run firm of funeral directors that has been serving the people of Newport since 1860.
A spokesman said: “We are a seventh-generation family business, one of the longest established in Newport and South Wales. 
“We are soon to be celebrating our 160th year in business, so winning a South Wales Argus Business Award would be a perfect way to welcome 16 decades of service to the people of Newport during some of the most testing of times in people’s lives. 
“Seven generations of our family have served within the business, so this would be a great way of toasting the hard work and longevity of all our staff.”

Innovative Business of the Year: 
Sponsor: Western Power Distribution

The award will go to the business that has introduced a new product process, invention, idea or design which has made a significant contribution to the business. The judges were interested in innovation that has improved an existing product, process or an initiative that has linked to the development of a new product or service. Judges were also interested in how innovation is embraced within the culture of the business.

Auriella Ltd T/A Solar Buddies
Chapel Street, Pontnewydd, Cwmbran

Cash Calc
Ray Adams, director of Niche IFA, CashCalc, AdviserBook and Niche Sports, 
Waterside Court, Albany Street, Newport

Cintec International Ltd
Gold Tops, Newport

Cintec was formed in 1985 to take advantage of patents acquired from a West German engineer who had used a fabric sock material to surround a steel bar and encapsulate a cementitious grout to provide a fixing in hollow pot construction. 
Originally, the company was known as Cavity Lock Systems Ltd, and had been involved in manufacturing and producing stainless-steel cavity wall ties used to overcome the endemic problem in the UK of corroded mild steel wall ties. 
After several years of working with ideas, Peter James, managing director, decided to purchase the original basic patents and develop the system to encompass a greater range of products and the type of structures that could be reinforced.
It was not very long after the purchase of the patents that he thought it would be good idea to create a strong brand name using the current name of the product called Cintec (which is an acronym for consolidated injection technology).
The company has grown since that time with offices in Canada, America, Australia, India and Egypt. It has won many awards and citations for its achievements throughout the years but in particular the Queen’s Award for Innovation in 2002 for strengthening masonry and stone arch bridges.
In 2014, he received the Chartered Institute of Builders Award for the most outstanding International project for the year for the work undertaken to restore the ceiling of the burial chamber in the Step Pyramid. This monument is the most iconic structure dating from 2,700 years BC and it is the first high-rise stone structure man has built.
Other awards include: Structural Faults and Repairs Design Award 2006; Welsh Innovate Company of the Year 2007; two Historic Bridge and Infrastructure Awards in 2001 and 2011.
The other product that has been developed by Cintec is known as Waterwall. This was developed by Cintec at the request of the Department of Defence to mitigate the effects of improvise explosive devices. 
At present, in the UK only, there are 25 employees.
Peter James said: “Cintec has a reputation and a brand for bespoke innovation. I thought that this would be the most appropriate category.
“The winning of this award would further strengthen our reputation in the field of innovation. As I was born in Caerleon Road, it would give me immense satisfaction to be a winner in my own city.”

Large Business of the Year
Sponsor: Thomas Carroll Group

This award aims to identify business which can demonstrate growth as well as future growth potential and a positive impact on the south east Wales economy. The size and age of the business will be taken into consideration when evaluating its financial performance. The judges were particularly interested to see evidence of innovation, for example in products, services, processes, market expansion and penetration. Companies entering this category must have an annual turnover in excess of £2m.

Industrial Automation and Control Ltd.   
Delta House, Meadows Road, Newport

Chepstow Racecourse
St Lawrence Road, Chepstow

Chepstow Racecourse is the biggest leisure and event destination in Monmouthshire. 
It hosts races 32 times a year both flat and jump racing. These include the biggest and richest race in Wales, The Coral Welsh Grand National at the end of December, a meeting which is part of both the racing industry and families calendars alike. 
Aside from racing, it has also held large scale music events such as Tom Jones and Madness, as well as large festivals in the middle of the track and significant trade exhibitions.
The racecourse currently employs 26 full time members of staff and more than 100 temporary staff on each of its feature events.
The racecourse has been in operation since the early 1900s but Arena Racing Company bought the track and started operating as a group in 2012.
A spokesman said: “We decided to enter the Large Business of The Year because we feel that we contribute a lot to South Wales in terms of local supplier sourcing, job creation and giving the public an avenue for entertainment. 
“Horse racing as a sport is a social one, it of course appeals to the avid racing fan who follows horses and studies form, but those same meetings apply to people who don’t know what a race card is but want to come and enjoy the atmosphere of a race day and the entertainment afterwards. 
“What’s more, we entered for the sheer fact of how versatile the venue is, from weddings to conferences to private parties to the biggest race day in Wales. 
“Chepstow Racecourse really is a business that is a destination.
“Winning one of the South Wales Argus Business Awards would mean so much, it would mean a lot to the entire team who work above and beyond to make the racecourse the success it is. 
“It would also highlight to us the impact we make on the South Wales market and with extra focus how we can continue to raise the bar with new and exciting events and facilities.”

Monmouthshire Building Society 
Monmouthshire House, John Frost Square, Newport

MBS is a building society based in the centre of Newport with branches based along the M4, with a large majority based in south east Wales. 
It sells savings and mortgages, along with some third party products such as home insurance and funeral plans. 
It was formed in 1869 by three Newport businessmen and it turns 150 in January 2019. 
It employs approximately 188 colleagues.
A spokesman said: “We decided to enter the awards as the business has been on such a fantastic journey over the last 12 to 18 months that we felt able to put ourselves forward. As a large employer in Gwent we wanted to continue to raise awareness of our brand too.
“Although this is the first year for these awards, they are still very prestigious to win. With so much change taking place in the society, it would be a great to share the success with our colleagues and members.”

Small Business of the Year: 
Sponsor: Kymin

This award will go to the profitable business which has increased its potential over the latest financial year; the size and age of the business will be considered against its financial performance. The judges are interested to see innovative products, services and processes as well as expansion into new markets and different areas of business activity. In addition the judges were looking to discover the ‘personality’ of the business, the qualities which make the business successful. Companies considered for this award must have an annual turnover of less than £2m.

Auriella Ltd T/A Solar Buddies
Chapel Street, Pontnewydd, Cwmbran

Axis Chiropractic, 
Caerau Road, Newport

Axis Chiropractic is a modern, thriving,  Chiropractic Clinic based in the NP20 area of Newport. 
Chiropractic is a primary health-care profession which specialises in the diagnosis, treatment and over all management of conditions that arise from problems with the joints, ligaments, tendons and nerves, especially related to the spine. 
Chiropractic treatment mainly involves safe, often gentle, specific spinal manipulations to free joints in the spine or other areas of the body that are not moving properly.
Apart from manipulation, chiropractors may use a variety of techniques including ice, heat, soft tissue massage, active stretching, ultrasound, exercise and acupuncture as well as advice about posture and lifestyle.
Although chiropractors are best known for treating back and neck pain, which they do very well, patients also consult chiropractors regarding a range of other, related conditions such as trapped nerves, knee, shoulder and ankle disorders, sports injuries, headaches and migraines to name just a few. 
Axis currently employs four full time chiropractors, four reception staff, three part time, one full time) and four massage therapists on a self-employed basis. 
Along side the chiropractic business it rents out its treatment room to a wide range of other medical practitioners.
A spokesman said: “We have worked extremely hard over the past three-and-a-half years to turn the business around since our takeover in 2015. 
“We have increased turnover by 400 per cent in this time and heavily invested in the fabric of the building and the staff within. We have increased our numbers from four to 12 members of staff in this time. 
“We entered this category as we are very proud of what we have achieved in a short period of time. 
“It’s not often you get to boast about how proud you are of the place you work and the people you work with and this award allows us to do just that.
“Winning an award would be the cherry on the cake at the end of a very productive 12 months.
“It is also nice bit of recognition for all the hard work everyone has put into the business.”

The Pod
The Pod, Rodney Road, Newport

The Pod opened in November 2017 and is located on the banks of the River Usk.
It is a unique watering hole designed to offer tasty street-food style, small plates and delicious cocktails and gin serves. With its gritty, New York inspired interior, created by So Exclusive Interiors, The Pod offers a casual, relaxed dining experience aimed at making guests feel like they could be in any city in the world! 
The small plates menu is perfect for sampling individually or as sharing plates between friends. 
With an additional (large plate) burger menu, there’s plenty to choose from. 
The Pod has a huge range of gin available (at the last count – there were more than 80). With a cocktail list which changes weekly (including mocktails), a great selection of whiskies, vodka, beers and wines... there’s certainly something to wet all whistles.
The Pod currently employs 15 staff.
Paul Young said: “We decided to enter this category because we felt our small business deserves to be recognised for the effort our staff have given since opening last year. What better way than to reward them for all their hard graft?
“Winning an award would be fantastic. What an accolade? It would boost our staff and give deserved praise to what they’ve achieved over the past nine months. 
“It would also acknowledge the blood, sweat and tears poured into this venture from friends, family and staff. 
“If successful, we’d hope the award would raise The Pod’s profile and help reach further customers/suppliers and larger corporations wanting to visit or do business with Newport based organisations. 
“With ICC Wales opening next year and an influx of worldwide companies visiting the area, this award would help set us further apart from local competitors and hopefully encourage these businesses to visit.”
Start up Business of the Year:  
Sponsor: St Joseph’s Hospital  

This award is for a company that has been launched or has had a change or ownership within the past three years. The judges were looking for businesses that have evolved from an entrepreneurial approach applied in a creative business idea such as an unique business concept, addressing changes in industry practices production of innovative products or services or a discovery of a new route to markert or a business which has had a significant change of direction or momentum following a change of control. The judges were looking for evidence of early financial success and achievements in excess of targets tougher with a sound business plan that is likely to ensure continued growth and sustainability.

Purely Disposable
Foundry Road, Abersychan

The Escape Rooms
The Royal Chambers, Griffin Street, Newport
Simply Do Ideas
Britannia House, Caerphilly Business Park, Caerphilly

Simply Do Ideas is the most powerful way to drive innovation by accessing ideas, insights and intelligence. 
The technology is effectively facilitating the entrepreneurial behaviours of individuals, organisations and communities by connecting people digitally. 
This opens previously untapped ideas, resources and solutions while seamlessly bridging the gap between stakeholder groups. 
A spokesman said: “Our easy-to-use, cloud-based technology is empowering organisations across the private, public and third sectors to realise the innovative potential of untapped early-stage ideas.
“The platform was launched as a result of poor personal experience and the realisation that something was missing – CEO, Lee Sharma, spent several years in education and enterprise, running a national pre-startup programme followed by a national social entrepreneurship government programme. 
“Working and extensive research into the area of entrepreneurial mindset development led to the creation of educational technology company Simply Do Ideas in September 2015 to incubate those early-stage ideas and assess their value. 
“Following recent investment round which raised £585,000 we have been able to expand the team and there are now 10 staff in the office.
“These awards celebrate passionate companies which stand out from the crowd, and we know our platform is positively impacting the Welsh economy by redefining how business innovate. 
“As we build and expand our innovation ecosystem, we will be engaging more fully with even more Welsh businesses across the private, public and third sectors to realise the innovative potential of untapped early-stage ideas. 
“To be recognised for that work and increase external belief in the value of innovation and digitisation within business in Wales would be a great testimony to the value of the product we have. 
“The team has worked tirelessly since 2015, putting its all into the product and providing unrivalled customer experience. 
“Winning an award would give the team a fantastic reward for its belief and hard work and boost morale, validating the direction in which the business is going. As we grow and expand our team, we foresee such awards helping us attract the top talent in Wales.”

Training and Development Business of the Year: 
Sponsor: Coleg Gwent

Judges were looking for entries that highlight either a training company’s innovative courses or businesses internal training and development programmes and the positive impact that they have on staff. Training companies must be able to demonstrate a real commitment to the development of individual’s relationships with businesses and how they encourage the culture of development and celebration of achievements. Companies running their own training and development courses must show development of staff and the effect that this has on their results. Evidence of solid results growth and development and future plans for continued development is essential.

Industrial Automation and Control Ltd.   
Delta House, Meadows Road, Newport

Panda Education and Training Ltd
Welsh ICE, Britannia House, Caerphilly Business Park, Caerphilly

Panda Education and Training has been in business for two years. 
Its two founders, Rachel Arnold and Ros Protheroe had worked in vocational education for more than 40 years combined.
They identified there was a gap in the provision of innovative and high quality training for trainers and assessors, so formed Panda as a result.
Panda provides bespoke training to meet the needs of training providers and departments to develop skills needed for effective improving the skills and performance of others such as coaching, questioning and using digital tools. 
Panda also delivers learning and development apprenticeships to assessors and trainers who want to develop their knowledge and skills and gain a Level 3 qualification. Panda has recently doubled in size, employing a further two people.
Rachel and Ros said: “We entered this category as we train and develop those who train and develop others, so we provide a very important service and wanted to raise awareness of this and gain recognition for what we do.
“Winning would mean a great deal to Panda personally and professionally to be recognised for the hard work and commitment in developing its successful training provision over the last two years.
“Panda’s directors are passionate about vocational education and the benefits it can bring – when delivered well. Through developing the professional skills of those delivering vocational and work based education, we hope it will develop to have parity of esteem with academia.”

1 to 1 Accountancy
Port Road, Maesglas Retail Park, Newport

1 to 1 Accountancy Services Ltd is a firm of chartered certified accountants based in Newport. 
It offers a range of accountancy, business consultancy and other related financial services to owner managed and family owned businesses.
It prides itself on giving a first class service with a personal touch at very competitive rates.
1 to 1 specialises in mentoring people who are thinking of starting up in business.

Young Entrepreneur of the Year: 
Sponsor: Icon Creative Design 

This award was open to both young business people that are enjoying success in building their own business or to those employees that have an outstanding impact in contributing to the success of a larger organisation. Applicants need to demonstrate ambition, energy, skill and vision as well as tangible business success. Applicants were judged on their personal involvement in the company’s growth or expansion its move into new products services markets or new areas of business activity.

Jonathan Hill, 
Hi Coffee UK, Llanthewy Road, Newport

Hi Coffee is a Newport-born coffee chain which has spent the past five years establishing itself as a business geared towards the fast growing travel/commuter market. 
Hi Coffee’s presence has recently become national with several stores in train, coach and bus stations in South Wales, Plymouth, and most recently London.
Its main focus is to provide a wide range of premium products to its guests, starting with using its own unique coffee blend, created by the founder Jonathan Hill, which draws on a mixture of Arabica and Robusta beans and is roasted right here in the UK. 
It also aims to provide guests with a wide range of grab and go food, including vegan and gluten free options. 
Another key focus for the brand is its sleek industrial identity, aiming to provide a clean, modern and practical solution to service in travel hubs. 
The distinct yellow and grey Hi Coffee colours hope to create a sense of familiarity among its guests, letting them know that they will receive the same high quality brand formula, wherever they are. 
The company has a bold growth plan, which aims to have 20 outlets opened by the end of 2020. 
The company’s recent success has led to it securing a ten-year contract with Govia Themes Railway, the UK’s largest train operating company at Gatwick Airport Train Station, which is one of the UK’s busiest train stations. 
The opening for Hi Coffee UK is estimated to be a potential £1m operation itself, providing jobs for up to 20 people. 
The company is projected to have 100 employees by the end of 2019, as part of its wider expansion and internal growth. 
Founder Jonathan Hill said: ‘Gatwick is our largest venture for the brand yet and we found ourselves with the opportunity to open an outlet on joint platform 1-2 and a further outlet on platform 7. 
“Working here has been a unique challenge due to the busy nature of the station, but as a company we are excited about making quality coffee services accessible to all.
“When I started building a coffee brand I knew I would have to break into a market dominated by big brands that we all know and enjoy. 
“What I believe sets Hi Coffee aside is its more approachable service and varied offering of high quality products, all vetted by myself and our team.
“I noticed that travel stations often lack high quality food and drink services for passengers, and this is predominantly due to the fact that big brands often don’t want to open in these places, often favouring busier high streets where income and footfall is consistent with their monetary goals. 
“Although Hi Coffee is a business, its founding principle is focused on offering high quality service and products to guests, because we are passionate about our service.
“Moving forward the Hi Coffee brand will assess future retail space on a case by case basis, looking to create sustainable coffee shop services that meet the needs of commuters wherever they are from.
“It has always been important to me that Hi Coffee remains a customer-centred brand, which places relationships with guests and staff above all else.
“When I created Hi Coffee I did not set out to create something completely different or new, just something better and more personal. 
“I am proud to say that I have built a brand that people enjoy, whether it is simply to grab a quick coffee when passing, or to drop in and have a catch up with our friendly staff, either way our service and product is the most important thing to me.”
In 2019 Hi Coffee UK will launch its own ordering app and click and collect service, giving commuters the opportunity to order while walking, pay using Apple pay and conveniently collect their drink while passing, reducing any need to wait in a due. 
Hi Coffee has also recently launched a completely cashless counter at its Newport Bus Station store to help grow its contactless payments and help prioritise those in a hurry.
Jonathan said: “It’s great to join the many others who have been doing great work on South Wales to make the area prosper and recognise its potential.
“Winning an award would provide recognition to keep on inspiring others that they can achieve almost anything if they are truly committed to the cause they believe in and are willing to put the work in.”

Sam Perry, So.Social Media
Monnow Street, Monmouth

So.Social Media is a corporate social media management and development agency specialising in SMEs and MMEs globally alongside web design and graphics. 
It takes underperforming social media channels and turn them into professionally managed, corporate channels dedicated to brand awareness and lead conversion.
Sam Perry said: “We are experts in branding and ensure that each client’s brand is the focal element of each transformation, keeping each post, graphic and video on message to maximise brand strength and consumer engagement. 
“So.Social Media has been trading for 23 months and within those crucial months we have grown from just myself and my laptop to a fantastic and talented team of six. 
“I feel that the growth which So.Social Media has seen is exceptional and shows no sign of slowing. 
“Having been previously employed in a variety of roles in independent retail, SMEs within digital and advertising I was aware that in comparison, this growth was unusual and therefore may deserve of an element of recognition. 
“At the beginning of this business journey I did not see myself as an entrepreneur at all, I was simply a struggling individual with multiple jobs, a laptop and a considerable overdraft. 
“However, as So.Social Media began to develop and inevitably became my sole focus and sole income, the word ‘entrepreneur’ was thrown around, firstly by those family and friends closest to me and then by other businesses. At this point it became clear to me through the fog of long hours, that So.Social Media was a relative success. 
“When I was made aware of the Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award it seemed only sensible to enter myself to gauge what other knowledgeable business owners thought of our progress. 
“Putting oneself forward for an award such as this also provides a great feeling of progressive wellbeing in our offices and that can only be a good thing. 
“As a fledging business winning this award would cement a sense of achievement in my mind and the minds of the team. 
“Often self-employment can be a somewhat foggy experience, when faced with long hours, responsibilities to your staff and consistently being aware that at any point, something could go wrong, you don’t always have time to sit back and enjoy what successes you may have achieved.
“This award would be a progressive sorbet, cleansing our palettes for the next stage of growth and allowing us that time to enjoy our achievements, but not for too long, there is always work to be done.”

Emma Casburn, Infinite Travel
Larch Grove, Malpas/Cherry Orchard, Glascoed

Infinite Travel offers tailored holidays, honeymoons and corporate travel solutions to clients with a wide variety of requirements across South Wales and further afield.  
Emma said: “We pride ourselves on truly personalised service and ensuring our clients’ every need is met through every step of their holiday process.  
“Our family-run business has been operating for four years and there are four of us working in the business.
“I felt this category best suited where I am with the business and allowed me the best opportunity to showcase my skills and how we’ve developed Infinite Travel.  
“I’ve been brought up to think in an entrepreneurial way so entering this category struck me as a good fit.
“Winning one of the awards would be a great accolade for myself and Infinite Travel.  It would help us to demonstrate our worth within the South Wales area and show that small family businesses can deliver and be among the best just as well as larger companies.  
“I’ve always loved the term entrepreneur and what it stands for, so in particular winning an award with entrepreneur in the title would really be a true honour.  
“I’d hope it would then help foster new client relationships and help us to increase our reach to those who may wish to use our services, thus helping to further increase the business.”