PAUL Sheerin reckons the best is yet to come from Oldham’s newly crowned ‘young business of the year’.
Last June, the Independent exclusively revealed the emergence of Defiance gin in premises a short walk from Lees High Street.
Now Paul’s company, Defiance Spirits Ltd, is toasting success at the 11th annual Oldham Business Awards.
He and 10 other category winners received their accolades in front of nearly 600 guests at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, an event hosted by BBC News Presenter Louise Minchin and ITV’s Caroline Whitmore.
But Paul isn’t resting on his laurels. Within the next month he is pushing ahead plans to expand the business with a new range of gin and rum while receiving his first intake of ‘students’ for gin making classes.
Four varieties of his new Flight Club gin and two rums will add to his Defiance range of five gins and one rum.
“We are not just a gin distillery,” said Paul. “It’s a boutique spirits distillery; rum, gin, vodka. We are looking for longevity.
“They reckon there are five years more growth in the spirits sector. So, we have got that time to really bed ourselves in.”
Defiance’s gin academy will see guests get a chance to pick their own botanicals, produce, bottle and then take home their own gin.
“There will also be chance to sample a few G and Ts during the event,” smiled Paul who is still hosting separate gin festivals.
George Hill Timber’s 100th birthday celebrations this year now include victory in the £5m to £10m business of the year section.
Founded in 1919, the Scottfield Road company is a leading independent supplier of timber, building supplies and many other quality products in the North West. It now has additional branches located in Bolton, Sale and Nelson.
The company ethos has remained the same during its hundred years in existence.
So, whether it’s 1919, 2019 or any year in between George Hill provides the ultimate in service and satisfaction for customers, maintaining the special traditions and ideals laid down by their father, grandfather and great grandfather.
The four generation are committed to driving the company forward and providing a complete service for customers.
Additionally, to the timber merchant business, Hills also supply a large range of building materials including sand, cement, bricks, blocks, aggregates, plasterboard and plaster and roofing materials.
Paul Jordon, managing director of the Jordon Group, was delighted by the company win in the business of the year, more than £10m category.
“It’s the first time we have entered so it’s not bad going,” said Paul of a thriving business, employing 124 staff, founded in 1965 and now established nationally as leading specialists in the shopfitting, refrigeration and air-conditioning industry.
“At the same time we do a lot of standalone refrigeration work and standalone air conditioning work. If there is work, we will go where people want us to go.
“I joined the business in July 1982 and took over as MD in 1999/2000 and since then we have almost doubled in size. “
The Jordon Group motto is: “We’re still ‘old enough to know, large enough to cope and small enough to care.”
And Paul says: “Brexit has been bouncing along for too long but it hasn’t effected any of the sectors in which we are involved.
“People are now doing staycations (stay at home holidays) and two or our biggest customers have invested heavily in their businesses because they can see the short to medium term effect of Brexit is people will look at staying in this country. So, we haven’t seen a downturn, we have seen the opposite.”
Steve Kilroy, OBA steering committee chair, said: “You don’t realise just how diverse the Oldham business community is until awards like this.
“Businesses in Oldham continue to go from strength to strength and that’s not just throughout the UK, it’s worldwide too.”
Now in its 11th year, the OBA attracted a full house of nominees and 560 guests.
Judging panels, which include representatives of the category sponsors, reviewed all this year’s business award entries at the start of the year before shortlisting three finalists for each of the 11 categories.
Supporting Young People
Winners: Unity Partnership
Business of the Year more than £10m
Winners: The Jordon Group
Business of the Year £5m – £10m
Winners: George Hill Timber
Business of the Year £1m – £5m
Winners: Precision Pallets and Cases Ltd
Business of the Year Under £1m
Winners: Physio Matters
Business Person of the Year
Winner: Andy Hirst, Sudlows Ltd
Employer of the Year
Winners: Physio Matters
Start-up Business of the Year
Winners: BW Marketing
Young Entrepreneur of the Year
Winner: Connor Hall – Live and Now Group
Young Business of the Year
Winner: Defiance Spirits Ltd
Winner: Oldham Hulme Grammar School