Firms with Royal seals of approval

Queen's award: Ancon's Stuart Maxwell, Peter McDermott and Josie Welburn on the day of Ancon's queens awards
Queen's award: Ancon's Stuart Maxwell, Peter McDermott and Josie Welburn on the day of Ancon's queens awards
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No fewer than three 2012 Queen’s Award winners feature in this year’s Top 50 rankings, including newcomers Ancon.

Construction products company Ancon can trace its history back 130 years to 1882 when George Clark of Sheffield started processing steel in the city before moving into making agricultural tools.

It was another 90 years before Ancon Stainless Steel Fixings was established, supplying the construction industry with metal components used as anchors in concrete.

George Clarke and Ancon were brought together just over 20 years later, in 1992 to form Ancon Clark, the biggest manufacturer of stainless steel construction fixings in the UK.

Now known as Ancon Building Products, the company was presented with the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in Innovation earlier this year for an invention changing the way concrete structures are built.

Ancon received its award for a groundbreaking lockable dowel, which is simplifying design, improving safety and reducing costs and is already securing what the company describes as “phenomenal” sales across Europe, Australia and North America.

Until Ancon’s Sheffield-based development team came up with its Queen’s Award-winning development, construction firms had to leave metre-wide gap, called a pour strip, between floor slabs to allow for the concrete shrinking while it dried and cured.

The strips are a hazard for construction workers and slabs have to be propped up for anything up to 12 weeks before they can be filled in.

Ancon’s lockable dowels eliminate the need for pour strips, allowing floors to be laid with shrinkage gaps as small as 1mm and reducing the time the slabs need to be propped up for.

Once the concrete has cured, the dowels are locked into position and an epoxy resin is poured in to seal the millimeter wide gap

Other Top 50 2012 Queen’s Award winners are Gripple and Kiveton Park (Holdings).

Gripple generates 30 per cent of its turnover from products that are less than four years old and clinched its second Queen’s Award for Innovation and fourth Queen’s Awards in all for a series of innovations in its range of industrial products, which is employed widely in the construction industry to suspend pipes, cable trays and equipment inside buildings.

Developments include a patented device for securing suspension wires to overhead spans, seismic bracing, which is used in areas subject to earth tremors and quakes, a universal for securing sections of pipe work without the need for special tools and its “Trapeze” range of Gripple wire joining and tensioning devices, for supporting rectangular ducting.

Kiveton Park (Holdings), meanwhile, won its Queen’s Award for International Trade after boosting overseas sales to such an extent in recent years they doubled from 30 per cent to 60 per cent of total sales and increased by 50 per cent last year.

Growth was initially in European markets, but the firm, which has exported to the US and Mexico for a number of years, has also opened up new markets in Brazil, India, Taiwan and Turkey in recent years and also exports to Romania and Hungary.

The company, which is celebrating its 90th anniversary this year puts its success in low cost areas of the world down to quality and customer service, which is vital for companies in emerging markets seeking to export to Europe and the US.

Most of the company’s output goes to top tier automotive components manufacturers and their immediate suppliers, although the company also supplies some defence and aerospace manufacturers.

Kiveton Park’s products are used to make diesel injection, steering, engine and suspension parts, fasteners, drills and components for the rail industry, amongst other things.

Top manufacturers - employees

Position Company

2 Ballyvesey Holdings 1,857 7,817

4 Polypipe 1,695 -6,600

8 AES Engineering 1,331 11,006

12 Jeld-Wen UK 1,158 -16,299

5 Wavin 1,146 6,898

17 SIG Manufacturing 1,050 -10,762

14 The Symphony Group 862 1,309

13 Sheffield Forgemasters International 817 868

15 Danaher UK Industries 699 35,936

1 Outokumpu Stainless 594 21,900

10 CPL Industries Holdings 520 6,900

7 Vesuvius UK 507 3,471

24 Kostal UK 405 2,453

27 Premdor Crosby 375 -1,907

9 LUK (UK) 367 5,017

22 Koyo Bearings (Europe) 363 -6,407

18 Fusion Provida 354 3,650

28 MS International 344 5,505

3 London & Scandinavian Metallurgical 342 5,583

25 Bifrangi UK 332 4,766