After bagging New Business of the Year at the last WBA ceremony in 2016, this year was the turn of our Director, Gary Jenkins to be shortlisted, and the stakes were high!
With more than 450 people at the sold-out ceremony, there was some serious competition for Business Man of the Year, so we were ecstatic when Gary’s name was called out at the glitzy ceremony.
Here’s Gary’s debrief on the evening:
How did it feel to take home the WBA Business Man of the Year?
It felt surreal. I was delighted but, as with all award ceremonies, there’s literally nothing you can do when you get there on the night. The decision is already made and it’s just some words in an envelope – so you’ve just got to cross your fingers I guess.
When you’re up against some strong competition, it’s one of those things where you just don’t know how it’s going to go. My kids had already said that if I didn’t win then there’s nothing wrong with being the ‘runner-up’.
So, when my name was called out, it felt really, really good. And it was great to be there with all the team – because no successful business is a one-person operation.
How well do you think Warrington is performing as a location for start-up and small businesses?
Warrington is regarded nationally as a hot bed for start-ups and it’s definitely been massively supportive of us.
Also, I constantly talk about the ‘Warrington Welcome’ and how supportive the town’s business community and support organisations can be. Most people want you to succeed, they want you to do well. People have taken meetings with me when I didn’t really even have a business – I was just starting out. People like Steve Park at Warrington & Co, Gary Skentelbery at Warrington Worldwide, Gareth Dunning at the Warrington Guardian – these people are all busy people, but they made time to speak to me.
And it’s this type of support network in Warrington that’s helping businesses to grow and with the introduction of the Warrington Business Exchange, there’s even more of a platform here now. The Business Exchange gives people a ‘go to’ destination for everyone thinking about starting or growing a business through a single point. Start-ups need that funnel, they need that obvious go-to for support and advice.
I still think there’s work to do in showcasing the town as a welcome environment for small businesses to operate, and I also think there’s work to do around niche specialisms.
We’re obviously strong on logistics because of Warrington’s brilliant location. But when you look at, for example, digital marketing and digital businesses, there’s not really much there. So, it’s thinking about what sort of sectors do we want to own? Manchester is saturated with marketing agencies and digital companies. What does Warrington want be known for?
But in terms of support, it’s been fantastic. For example, the team at Warrington & Co have helped us with location scouting. There’s businesses here that want to support each other. It’s brilliant. It’s home.