2014 Winners - Innovative Newtown company is Powys Business of the Year

An innovative Newtown-based company that provides a range of cellular pathology services celebrated a notable double at the Powys Business Awards held at Derring Lines in Brecon.

CellPath Ltd, which employs 63 staff and has a £7 million annual turnover, was named the overall Powys Business of the Year and also collected the Innovation Award sponsored by the Cambrian News.

Specialising in the manufacture and supply of histology and cytology products, CellPath was formed in 1990 and branched out in 2004 to establish its CellNass archival storage facility, which has grown rapidly. CellNass stores millions of slides, blocks and other cellular pathology materials off-site for NHS hospitals across the UK.

The company has obtained a European and Technology Strategy Board grants of £1.45 million for two innovations aimed at both speeding up and improving the quality of cancer diagnostics within pathology.

The company’s innovation programme is led by brothers Paul and Philip Webber, whose father, Peter, is chairman. Responding to winning the two awards, Peter said: "It's wonderful for the company and the family, as my two sons have driven the business since we bought it back from being listed on the London Stock Exchange and have done a great job.

"We have an exciting future ahead due to innovation. Thirty per cent of our sales are coming from new products."

Bob Millard, a Powys Business Awards judge, said CellPath had all the hallmarks of a successful local business, having grown 400 per cent over the last 10 years.

"This is a company that has not been afraid to invest heavily in personnel and research and development, to push the technological boundaries that drive its business to further its ambitions for profitable growth," he added.
"This company is a world leader in providing a managed human tissue authority storage and retrieval service for histology laboratories and currently archives millions of tissue slides for more than 135 NHS hospitals."

The awards, organised by Mid Wales Manufacturing Group and sponsored by Powys County Council, celebrate excellence in business across the county. The awards ceremony was compered by TV and radio presenter Iolo Williams and attended by 300 guests.

A record number of entries was honed down to 41 businesses from across Powys, which were shortlisted in 13 categories and the judging panel revealed that the competition had been closer than ever.

The Judges Special Award for the business that had made the most lasting impression on them went to the Elephant and Castle Hotel, Newtown. Farmer Ian Williams has transformed the fortunes of the hotel after taking it out of administration in 2009 and investing more than £1 million in an extensive refurbishment programme. The hotel now employs 24 staff.

Last year’s Business of the Year, Quartix Ltd, of Newtown, retained the Business Growth Award sponsored by Finance Wales after reporting a 60 per cent sales increase, boosting its annual turnover to £13 million and expanding its workforce by 50 per cent to 89.

David Eifion Davies and his wife Anwen of Maesperthi Caravan Park, Penegoes, Machynlleth won the Farm Diversification Award sponsored by the Farm Diversification Grant Scheme www.glasu.org. The couple have invested £400,000 in developing their five star caravan park which has 53 holiday homes and plans for future growth.

Annie Smith, managing partner of Harrisons Solicitors LLP in Welshpool and Newtown, won the Outstanding Mentor Award, sponsored for NPTC Group. A "people person", she was said to lead by example the law firm, which employs 36 staff.

Emerson Control Techniques, Newtown, a leading designer and manufacturer of electric motor control technologies, received the Excellence in People Development Award sponsored by Leadership & Management Wales. The company says people development is keeping it ahead in the global market.

Best of Wales, a Machynlleth-based self-catering holiday accommodation agency with 230 properties across Wales on its books, won the Small Business Award for less than 10 employees sponsored by the Federation of Small Businesses. The company, set up in 2010, also has an office in Abercynon and plans further expansion.

Plant-i, a fast growing Machynlleth telematics company, won the Small Business Award for less than 25 employees sponsored by RWE Innogy UK. An inspiring success story of entrepreneurship, innovation and business growth, the company has increased turnover from £30,000 in 2004 to £1 million this year.

Dan-yr-Ogof, The National Showcases Centre for Wales at Abercrave, followed up last year’s Powys Tourism Visitor Attraction Award by adding the Best Use of Natural Resources/Environmental Award supported by Glasu. The business, which employs 62 staff, impressed the judges with its energy self-sufficiency and complete environmental focus.

Ecological building products manufacturer Tŷ-Mawr Lime of Brecon collected the award for Development in New UK or Export Markets sponsored by the County Times. The company, which has 21 employees, has recently doubled capacity by acquiring a second distribution warehouse and offices.

Olsen Engineering UK Ltd, a Caersws engineering company specialising in high performance modern ALL electric actuation systems for a range of industries, won the Entrepreneurship Award sponsored by the Welsh Government. Established by managing director Piers Olsen in 2004, the business employs five staff and has recently worked Hawk flight simulators for BAE Systems and a new $650m offshore oil and gas survey vessel.

Brecon Beacons Tourism, which has seen membership grow from 27 to 250 in eight years, received the Tourism Partnership/ Cluster Award supported by Mid Wales My Way. The organisation, which has three employees, promotes the Brecon Beacons as a tourist destination.

Talented chef Bryn Evans who took over The Nags Head Inn, Garthmyl earlier this year after working at a Michelin starred restaurant in Manchester, won the Start-up Business Award sponsored by Antur Teifi. Passionate about local food, he has created 15 local jobs.

A policy of supporting their local community wherever possible helped engineering company, Stadco Powys, Llanfyllin, win the Business in the Community Award sponsored by Mid Wales Housing Association. The company says one of the reasons for its success is the talented local workforce, which has more than doubled to 150 in the last four years.

Councillor Rosemarie Harris, Powys County Council’s portfolio holder for regeneration, said the awards set the standard and were very good for staff morale and raising the profile of business in Powys.

"It’s essential that Powys County Council does whatever it can to support the business sector because its hugely important role in underpinning the economy," she added.

The other finalists were: Small Business Award (less than 10 employees): Hilltop Honey, Caersws and Kettlebell Fever, Aberhafesp. Small Business Award (less than 25 employees): The Elephant & Castle Hotel, Newtown and GloverSure, Welshpool. Start up Business Award; Acacia Marquees, Hay-on-Wye and Powys Guns, Welshpool. Growth Award: Makefast, Newtown and Wipak UK, Welshpool. Farm Diversification Award: Nannerth Country Holidays, Rhayader and Ty Gwyn Farm, Llandrindod Wells.

Outstanding Mentor Award: Clare Spalding, FAB Clinic and Nick Davies, The Lion, Llandinam. Entrepreneurship Award: Maxim Bikes, Llanrhaeadr and Sporting Hares; Welshpool. Innovation/ New Product Development Award: Plant I, Machynlleth and Smithfield Joinery/ Modulog, Builth Wells.

Tourism Partnership/Cluster Award: Machinations Visitor Centre, Llanbrynmair; Natural Mid Wales, Knighton and Taste Montgomery, Montgomery. Business in the Community Award: Cambrian Training Company, Welshpool and Tower House Gallery, Knighton. Best Use of Natural Resources/ Environmental Award: Nannerth Country Holidays, Rhayader and The Old Coach House Cottage, Machynlleth. Development in New Markets UK or Export: Quartix, Newtown and U Strike, Newtown. Excellence in People Development: EvaBuild, Newtown and Packaging Coordinators inc, Brecon.