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, one of the longest-established and most respected awards nights in the country, 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.”



See our Gallery
“Everyone in Sussex wants to win a prestigious SBA and I was lucky enough to win on the first time around. It’s allowed HARE to approach bigger clients with confidence knowing we’re award winners…”

Hare, Sussex Graduate of the Year

“We are incredibly proud to have won two awards at the prestigious Sussex Business Awards. These highly sought-after awards have been of great interest to our clients and I am proud of our team for their fantastic success…”

Haybury (formely Stelfox), International Business of the Year, Award for Best Employer

“Winning a SBA validates the fundamental reason why we came to be, to give Bognor Town a leisure facility which it could be proud of. It reinforces the culture within our passionate team to provide a wonderful place for young people to feel at home in an ever stressful and difficult world where youth provision is lacking…”

The Base Skatepark, The Award for Leisure & Tourism

“Sussex is home to a fantastic business community, so picking up a Sussex Business Award last year was a real honour. It recognises our hard work and determination, and raises awareness of what we’re trying to achieve as a company. Industry awards such as this also help no end in attracting investment to fund our ambitious plans for growth…”

Darren Fell, Crunch, Sussex Businessperson of the Year

“Winning the Professional Services award has been extremely rewarding for Yelo and helped to further raise our profile as one of the leading architecture practices in Sussex. It\'s great for our staff to receive recognition for their dedication and the quality service they provide to our clients, and the whole experience was topped by a fantastic awards evening…”

Yelo Architects, The Award for Professional Services