Businessperson of the Year Shortlist Announced

The battle to be named Sussex Businessperson of the Year is about to intensify after the Sussex Business Awards announced the shortlist.

The 28th Sussex Business Awards, ed one of the longest-established and most respected awards nights in the country, see will be held at The Grand Brighton on 1 December with 17 hotly contested awards to be won.

Shortlists for the other categories have already been announced following a record number of entries in what has proved to be a bumper year.  The judging has been extensive for the 28th annual awards with seventeen judges visiting around 27 towns from across the county.  The panel interviews were conducted by Andrew Steer, Head of Business Banking at HSBC Bank and George Clayson FCCA Senior Manager Transaction Services at Mazars LLP.  The category sponsored by Heart FM.

The finalists are:

Sussex Businessperson of the Year (sponsored by Heart FM)

Darren Fell, Crunch Accounting
Established in 2008, Crunch Accounting provides a complete business solution for the UK’s freelancers and micro-businesses. Despite his lack of accountancy background, CEO Darren Fell has grown his company to 9000 customers over a seven year period.  Crunch has twice been named the fasted growing firm in the UK on the annual Accountancy Age Top 100 list.

Crunch has truly transformed traditional accounting practises by taking it digital, and have recently introduced 12 new products aimed at helping the self-employed.

Not content with inspiring his colleagues, Darren is involved with local councillors and projects in Sussex throughout the year.   Judges were particularly impressed by Darren’s attitude around the office, pioneering a ‘no hierarchy’ approach and extensive staff participation. Darren and the senior managers are all visible and move around the office taking new seats every few months.

Rob Verheul, Graphite Digital
Graphite Digital is a Brighton based digital media agency headed up by managing director, Rob Verheul. It offers design, animation and consultancy across a range of capabilities including marketing, web sites, enterprise technology and engaging digital content.  It has developed its own platform, Prized Media, which has been used by brands such as Uniqlo, Disney and Marvel to support shop opening and product launches.

Over the last three years Rob has tripled the team and more than doubled turnover, overcoming the challenges along the way which are associated with such dramatic growth.

Rob proudly describes his office culture as ‘warm and collaborative’ and impressed the judges with his leadership skills, recognising the way roles change as fast moving companies grow.  He strives to make sure every voice is heard within his team making sure each Monday there are discussions about the week ahead.

Stephen Gaffer, Frontier Pitts
British manufacturer, Frontier Pitts, has over one hundred years of experience in providing security gates, barriers, road blockers and bollards – much of this on an international basis in anti-terrorism situations.

This £8m turnover company is led by Technical Sales Director, Stephen Gaffer.

Stephen embraces change and enjoys the new challenges he faces with the developing security market.  He manages the business on key ethos of ‘right first time’ as, due to the nature of the business, a wrong move can costs lives. He applies this principle to all aspects of the company – from customer service to the manufacturing process.

Stephen is inspired by the fresh thinking of young people and prides himself on identifying and developing new talent, working tirelessly to hone the skills of the class of tomorrow. Sussex born and bred, Stephen takes great pride in giving back to the community and impressed the judges with his dynamic leadership and the loyalty of his employees.

Winners will be announced at a prestigious ceremony at The Grand Brighton on Thursday, 1 December.

Mike Herd, chair of the Sussex Business Awards, said: “The standard of entries in this category has been extremely high so being named on the short list is a huge achievement for everyone named here.

“Judges have worked tirelessly to analyse all the entries and to come up with a short list full of talented and innovative business people, who are all involved in highly successful businesses from across the county. It will be fascinating to see who take home the ultimate accolade of Sussex businessperson of the year.”



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\"It was a great honour, privilege and I have to say surprise to win two awards. We have an enviable reputation in the UK but to be benchmarked against the very best in Sussex - wow that was quite something! It was very motivating for all our staff but especially our young but talented management team. It has also improved our profile and reputation both locally and nationally.\"

AJS Labels, Sussex Company of the Year 2015

\"It has had a positive impact on our now national profile and has been pivotal in securing contracts wins from on our doorstep to as far afield the west country to the north west and the north east. It has provided staff with a boost to morale and generated great PR for both Burleys and our key clients!\"

Burleys, Innovation in Business 2015

\"Winning has helped raise the profile of our business in and beyond Sussex.  It not only reflects the hard work and dedication of all our staff but highlights the quality of our sparkling wines and the exciting future for our industry.

Ridgeview Wine Estate, Small Business of the Year 2015

\"It was an incredible experience, Being involved in the process was great and I had the opportunity to meet with other business professionals also striving for excellence in the industry in which they operate.  This year we are hoping that we’ll win an award which recognises the hard work, dedication and commitment of the whole team.\"

Searches UK, Entrepreneur of the Year 2015

\"Winning the award last year was especially poignant as I had no idea I was even in the running! To receive any award is rightly considered a great achievement, but to win a Sussex Business Award holds greater resonance given the status of the awards in our region.\"

Rockinghorse, Greatest Contribution to Sussex Charity 2015

\"It meant a lot to Allergy Therapeutics and validates our commitment to be a leading pharmaceutical company and healthcare provider. Receiving this prestigious award was exciting and motivating for the entire team and we wish all 2016 entrants the best of luck.\"

Allergy Therapeutics, International Business of the Year 2015

\"The Sussex Business Awards are the benchmark for successful organisations in Sussex and I always find it uplifting to see so many great businesses and business people being recognised for their achievements. There is no doubt that winning an award becomes a kind of shorthand for your professionalism and credibility. I am still surprised at the genuine opportunities the Awards have given us.\"

The Kitchen Store, Boss of the Year 2015

\"We were incredibly proud to win. As a firm at Bennett Griffin we strive to provide specialist professional services together with the highest level of customer care to all our clients and this award recognised the work undertaken by all our staff to achieve that .\"

Bennett Griffin LLP, Professional Services Award 2015