David Hymers, Managing Director of Totalpost Services Plc was interviewed by the Queen’s Award Office about Totalpost’s achievement of winning a Queen’s Award for Enterprise in International Trade; The impact it has had on the business, and; The advice that he would give to others who are thinking of applying for the awards.
The full video interview can be viewed here.
Alternatively below is the full transcript of the interview.
Q: It’s been a few weeks now since the Buckingham Palace reception. How have things been going?
A: The phrase “rollercoaster” would say it all. Rollercoaster in terms of employing extra staff, the extra business which has literally come about as a result of the initial PR that was sent out to do with gaining the award.
Gaining a Queen’s award for Enterprise in International Trade has been one of the best things we’ve seen in terms of supporting our business during the last few years. It’s been brilliant.
Q: Can you remember your reasons for taking that first step and filling out the entry form?
A: It’s interesting that the first year that we filled it out it was basically to see what the process was like. As it was we had a will and a desire to have some recognition for the work that was going in for exporting but we didn’t know whether we’d get anywhere. So, we tried it the first year and then it became a mission to try and use the success of further years to benchmark the work we were doing on export. It’s actually been one of the best management tools we have ever had. It’s a bit like me 40 years ago having a new sales manager – the Queen’s Award application process was my sales manager and it’s worked really well for us. We will certainly continue to apply and will treat it as part of our normal business plan year on year.
Q: What impact has winning the Queen’s Award had on your business?
A: Solidifying the team, it was an excellent team to start with, but we have become a much closer team with everyone wanting to be involved in both the hard work and the presentation which is taking place next week. Ask any of the team and they are willing to help for example, putting up a Queen’s Award flag and flagpole, everything like that has become second nature.
Also there’s been lots of good feedback via email from our various distributors and dealers who all want to buy into the success. They’ve wanted to know about the award and how we did it as well as being interested in which other companies in the UK have achieved it. I suspect that in other countries in Europe they might be trying to get their own equivalent.
Q: What was your experience of the application process?
A: I have to say, a few years ago when the questions on the subsequent year were the same as the previous year and we’d already had a “sorry you didn’t win this year but your form was excellent” we were able to utilise the info from the previous form with some updates. Then in recent years the form changed and this made it a little bit more difficult but its certainly not impossible, we didn’t use any external help we did it all internally. I think any company that feels they are doing well in exporting and are therefore having to go through the rigours and the documentation relating to exporting should find the form fairly straight forward.
Additionally the Queen’s Award Office was very helpful whenever we rang with queries relating to the entry process. We’ve had nothing but support from both BIS and UKTI.
It was nice to get the award it was great for our company, but its good for all the companies that won from the point of their recognition in the eyes of this country.
Q: How valuable did you find the feedback after your first attempt at a Queen’s Award?
A: It certainly helped us in terms of having confidence to do subsequent applications. The feedback that we got at the very beginning was when we thought we were doing brilliantly but the fact was we just didn’t tip the balance in terms of the benchmark to be considered in the first year that we applied. So, we kept trying and by the time we got to four years we won the award.
Q: Would you say that holding a Queen’s Award gives you an edge over the competition?
A: Since we are the only company in the country doing what we do in terms of manufacturing and remanufacturing of franking machine cartridges, nobody else has the award, Ipso Facto it makes us stand out from the competition. It’s a fantastic accolade and that coupled with our other major accreditation which is via Royal Mail means that we are the go to firm if people are wanting quality and recognition and some form of benchmark to get that approval. So, yes it has made us stand out, not only in terms of comparing us with other companies who are doing what we’re doing but also from the point of view of knowing our company has been looked at across the board in order to be granted the award.
It’s a fantastic accolade as it means in others eyes we have been judged as being a credible company and one whose figures have been confirmed both by auditors and an external body.
Q: How would you say your company has benefited from winning a Queen’s Award?
A: The benefit of the Queen’s Award for the products we supply for export has actually brought other people to us to say “can you export that to that market, can you export these for us?” From this we have just recently signed a deal with a British company who are manufacturing in the UK fully where we are now their export company into the countries where we have subsidiary companies already in Germany, France, South Africa and the USA.
Q: So you believe these people have got in touch with you through seeing your Queen’s Award?
A: We know they have. We know the PR has been read through some of the trade magazines by people that don’t normally express themselves within the particular trade that we have been in. They like the name, they know of some of the other things that we do in the UK from a hardware point of view and they’re saying can you help us.
Q: How have you been using the Queen’s Award emblem?
A: We all have it on our business cards, we have a flag and have installed a flagpole, it’s on all of our delivery vehicles around the country and we have it on balloons for the official presentation.
It’s also on our email signatures and on the website.
Q: What advice do you have for a company thinking of applying for their first Queen’s Award?
A: First and foremost, don’t be put off by the form. Yes it might look daunting, there’s a lot to fill in and it does take a bit of time but in terms of elapsed time probably allow 4-5 days to do the job properly. The important thing is to do the job properly don’t just fill it in and try and expect to win because you’ve only given a half hearted attempt. If you are serious enough in wanting to gain the award put your time into completing the form properly. It’s not difficult it doesn’t take rocket science its simply about applying yourself to the questions as if somebody within your own company is asking you that question, you’d take time to support them so why not support yourself in getting the form right. Don’t be put out in the first year if you don’t get it, we didn’t, nor did we in the second and third year but we did in the fourth year and its worth the wait.