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Excellence is criterion for top ten title.

Byline: Philip Williams Deputy Business Editor

Ten top performing local firms found themselves in elite company last night as they carried off the 2002 Midlands Excellence Awards.

The main two prize-winners in the presentations at the International Convention Centre in Birmingham were photocopier manufacturer Ricoh UK, in the large company category, and Tamworth-based training provider Protocal Group in the smaller group.

The presentations were made by Midlands Excellence chairman and group managing director of TNT Express, Alan Jones and Kwik-Fit founder, Sir Tom Farmer.

Midlands Excellence is a notfor-profit organisation, dedicated to improving the all-round performance of organisations across the region. Entrants all use the European Excellence Model - a management tool enabling them to improve competitiveness and efficiency.

Ricoh employs 640 staff at Priorslee, Telford, and makes digital photocopiers and related products for sale throughout Europe. The company's annual turnover is pounds 80 million and it is the number one market share leader in its field. It has been using the Excellence Model for three years and was a finalist last year.

Company secretary Roger Hargreaves described the award win as a 'fantastic achievement' and an important milestone along the road to world-class performance, adding: 'It is a reward for all the hard work our employees have put in to the company's continuous improvement efforts so far.'

Protocol Group employs just five full-time and four part-time staff. Established in 1996, turnover has risen to pounds 500,000 and the company specialises in delivering training in the hospitality and travel sector.

Core clients include independent travel agencies, with Birmingham-based Thomas Cook Direct being the largest customer.

Managing director Sue Tipton said her team was jubilant, adding: 'This shows we are a company committed to continuous improvement in all aspects of the business and has given us the motivation to continue with our quest for excellence in everything we do.'

A win in the operational unit category for Atherstone-based TPG IS follows a successful submission last year when the organisation narrowly missed out on the top award but was named as a prize winner.

The division has 420 staff who provide IT services to TNT Express, a division of the TNT Post Group.

Delighted director Dennis Beard said: 'Winning the award represents a high point in our journey to excellence. It provides a sense of achievement to all our people and everyone is very proud.'

Public sector award winner Castle Vale Housing Action Trust was set up in 1993 to regenerate the area and serve its 11,000 residents.

To date it has built or improved 2,800 homes, trained 3,200 people and helped 1,500 people into jobs. Its work has become an international example of best practice in regeneration.

Solihull College, the public sector award winner for large organisations, employs 1,000 staff and is one of the largest in the UK. Construction is about to begin on a student village with 240 bedrooms to cater for its growing number of higher education and international students. Other prize winners were Minworth-based PVC-U window company WHS Halo in the large company category and Warwickshire College in the public sector category.

In the special awards, this year's Midlands Equal Opportunities Employer is Birmingham-based social investment agency Prime Focus, while Coventry Newspapers won The Society Award for community service and the most improved organisation was named as Integrated FM, a facilities management specialist based in Warwick.

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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Oct 25, 2002
Words:574
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