Moving forward: Sub36 winners and sponsors share their stories

Communication and adaptability are at the heart of Lancashire businesses’ approach to the latest stage of the Covid-19 pandemic as the county’s ‘can-do’ attitude continues to shine through.

Three months after Lancashire Business View’s latest Sub36 Awards winners were revealed, we brought winners and sponsors together online to find out ‘what happened next?’

They shared their experiences and how they have worked to keep their businesses and organisations moving forward and to meet the changing needs of clients and customers through all the restrictions and lockdowns that the county has faced.

Businesses have also rallied to the needs of their communities, including spearheading efforts to feed children during school breaks and supporting the work of foodbanks.

They also gave a very clear message that despite the challenges of the pandemic businesses in all sectors are working hard and continuing to be successful. And the spirit of entrepreneurism is alive and well.

Annette Weekes, whose Nelson-based firm PDS Engineering sponsored the innovator award, spoke of the can-do attitude.

She revealed how she and her colleagues had worked to ensure children in the area were fed during half-term, raising £30,000 in a week and providing meals for 3,000 youngsters.

She said: We knew nothing about catering and from a standing start we delivered 15,000 meals. It showed that you just have to set your mind to it and make it happen.

She said the business had continued to move quickly to find new markets as the aerospace sector became a major casualty of the pandemic, adding: We see ourselves as engineering solution providers.

Philip Heyworth of JD Engineering won the Sub36 Hero Awards and Lancastrian of the Year at the awards.

His business worked to provide the community and various food banks with a share of 24 tonnes of food at the start of lockdown. Echoing Annette, he said: Put your mind to it and it will happen.

He added: Over the last three months we started to get back to some normality in the business but were now back in lockdown and there seems to be more confusion around that and the rules this time.

Jonathan Finch, of award sponsor Sales Geek, said the business had taken a hard look at how it could best support its clients during the pandemic, tweaking its offering and creating an online academy.

He said the pandemic had accelerated the pace of changes that were planned and he added: “It has pushed us so much further.”

Ellena Morgan, of Little Voices Fylde, received the Customer Champion award. She explained how she had worked to ensure that her performing arts lessons for young children continued during the lockdowns by taking them online.

Keeping children aged four to eight engaged had been a challenge, but she said: It has been important to do that and to be here for them to make sure they have some kind of normality.

That included keeping in constant contact with the parents of the youngsters, calling all 100 of them and keeping them informed of the business plans. It has been a crucial part of her work and she said: They have stuck with us and we are still going, thankfully.

Jayne Raven, of headline Sub36 sponsor Positive Pennine, also shared how the business had moved its seminars online continuing to provide important information to its clients.

She said: They have been really successful and weve had more people attend online. We want to go back to face-to-face events but we will still keep some things online as weve found them really valuable.

Communication has been important and Jayne added that the business had also looked at different ways of getting its messages out to its target audience during the pandemic.

Rob Hallam, of sponsor Bigtank Video Productions, said: “People are going on; they are being flexible and that is fantastically positive.”

He said that his company had worked hard to be able to operate safely with its clients and had started the new year with a strong pipeline of projects as conversations unlocked opportunity.

John Pickervance of Forbes Solicitors was named Professional of the Year at the Sub36 Awards. He has also been made a partner at the practice and become a father during the past year.

He said he had developed better relationships with his clients during the pandemic despite having to communicate remotely. John said: “Being further apart has actually brought me a lot closer to clients.

He added that his recent work had been taken up with Brexit and ensuring businesses that trade internationally were ready for the end of the transition period. And he revealed how the Sub36 award had opened new conversations with old clients who had seen his success.

Sara Gaskell, of sponsor Lancashire Skills and Employment Hub, said the Sub36 Awards had highlighted the amazing young people at work in Lancashire.

She said now was an ideal time to promote apprenticeships and the impact they can have on businesses, offering them the skills and productivity they need for the future.

Sara said businesses could also take advantage of the support available to upskill their existing workforces during the pandemic.

Mental health was another growing issue, she added, and the organisation was looking for additional funding to work with local colleges and training providers to offer wellbeing support for businesses.

Matt Robinson of award funding partner Rosebud, said the organisation continued to plan ahead in its work to support and fund businesses.

Marketing and ensuring people were aware that the fund is still open for business played a big role in that.

He added: The main thing Ive learnt is that you have to be adaptable and you have to be flexible.

Jaydee Davis, of Sub36 mentoring partner Northern Mentoring Programme, said the county had been one of the hardest-hit by lockdowns and restrictions during the pandemic.

Both internal and external communication had been vital in the way her organisation had faced its challenges. Weve had to adapt rapidly, she said.

She said: Theres a lot of entrepreneurial activity and new ideas with new businesses being registered in Lancashire all the time.

The Sub36 Awards took place on Thursday 22 October via Zoom. Watch the Awards Ceremony in full here. Thirteen of the county’s most influential young men and women in business have were names Sub36 Award winners and won prizes including specialist mentoring and access to growth funding and sales support at the Sub36 Awards 2020. See a full list of winners and finalists for the Sub36 Awards 2020 here.

The headline sponsors for Sub36 Awards 2020 is Positive Pennine. The mentoring partner is Northern Mentoring Programme and the funding partner is Rosebud.

The awards are also sponsored by Bigtank Video Productions, Lancashire Skills and Employment Hub, PDS (CNC) Engineering, Sales Geek, True Bearing Chartered Financial Planners and Two Zero.