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NLBA18: Business champions recognised from home and away at South Bank bash

TWO international imports to the South Bank business community were honoured with top accolades at the Northern Lincolnshire Business Awards 2018.

NLBA18: Business champions recognised from home and away at South Bank bash

Capt Sam Judah MBE and Karl Thew emigrated from India and New Zealand respectively, and have gone on to provide growth and prosperity for many in their respective industries. 

They won the top individual honours at the annual business calendar highlight, with a special award also recognising the ambassadorial role played by a top town export - John Bowers QC - an eminent employment lawyer who is principal of Brasenose College, Oxford.

Capt Judah, named the Grimsby & Scunthorpe Telegraphs’ Lifetime Achievement award winner, used to sail vessels laden with cars into Grimsby, and the past 12 months have seen the business he joined to move them throughout the supply chain – from factory to showroom – clock up 30 years.

He has been at the helm of GBA Group of Companies for the vast majority of that time, and has worked across the shipping, ports and logistics industry for his entire career.

It has been a journey split across sea and land, spanning the decks of ocean-crossing ships, the bridge of car carriers, terminal management and culminating in leading one of the most successful stories to emerge from the ports in recent times. He was awarded an MBE in 2009, and has received several industry awards for service, innovation and excellence.

Born and educated in Bombay, India, he first came to the UK to launch his maritime career, and while at sea completed a degree in business studies.

He first took command of a vessel at the age of 31, bringing Volkswagens across the North Sea – to Grimsby’s Alexandra Dock – and worked from third officer to master.

Coming ashore, he worked as operations manager in Immingham, then as a port manager in Teesport, returning to the Humber as Hull Container Terminal manager, before joining GBA in the early Nineties. 

It was a move made as Toyota looked to the Humber to export their UK-built cars. As a result, in 1997 the company opened its head office in Grimsby, while going on to operate in all major car-handling locations around the UK, and selected global roles. More recently GBA played an integral role in future-proofing Grimsby’s specialist car handling capabilities, as one of three parties with Associated British Ports and Volkswagen, to enable the £25-million riverside terminal to be built.

GBA now handles more than two million cars a year, with a quarter of those through Grimsby, employing more than 900 people, and more than half here. BMW is now coming on line just down the road at North Killingholme too.

A devoted family man, two of his four boys, Cale and Yaniv, work with him, and in accepting this award tonight he has underlined how it is on behalf of all the directors and staff who have delivered successes over the past three decades.

After receiving a standing ovation from the 500-strong audience, Capt Judah said: “You cannot do this by yourself. I have got a whole company to back me up, together with directors and staff – this is not a one man show, although I recognise the award and am honoured and humbled to receive it. 

“I have a couple of people to thank, my two sons who have been in the business for 17 years between them and my very good friend Stephen Bland, who has been one of my best friends since the age of 16. We have sailed together, we work together and we socialise together. That’s 48 years, he is my deputy managing director, so to him and the rest of the staff I say thank you.”

Of the awards, now in their 17th year, he added: “We have to celebrate success because it gives encouragement to achieve, and that’s what gives this area the economic growth and entrepreneurship, and the rest follows.”

Reflecting on the past six years, Mr Thew, who collected the Business Person of the Year award from new senior partner of sponsor Wilkin Chapman, Andrew Holt, said: “We had a couple of big hurdles to climb over, we got over those and we are expanding well. We have just opened in the US so it is an exciting time for us. The growth of the company is really good, we are market-leading, expanding in to the US and Middle East with new technology which can automate the industry.”

A total of 20 people are employed on South Park Industrial Estate, with 400 worldwide – predominantly field contract staff in Thailand. 

Just hours before the ceremony began, Mr Thew had arrived back from Singapore, as Cat Tech International’s global expansion builds real momentum.

The chief executive of the industrial services provider for the petrochemical and refining industries, it was formerly part of Shell and then owned by multi-national corporations throughout the world, before he led a management buy-out in 2012. Having stabilised the Scunthorpe-headquartered business, it is now showing double digit profit returns on sales. The results and continued satellite office expansions overseas have been credited to his drive and determination.

Travelling more than 100,000 miles a year, he said of his latest 18-hour commute: “It was definitely worth the effort,” cradling the accolade, having won in International Trade last year.

“It is great to see the community banding together. All the people work so hard to try and make their businesses a success, and it is so important.

“It is great recognition, there have been many years of hard work to get to this.”

Employment law 'rock star,' as he has been described, Mr Bowers QC was named Great Grimsby Lifetime Ambassador by the Hull & Humber Chamber of Commerce.

The eminent legal professional, now principal of Brasenose College, Oxford, left Clee Grammar having gained a scholarship to Lincoln College, Oxford. Opting to read law, he took the Bar in 1979 and the Silk in 1998. 

He has acted in some of the biggest industrial disputes of recent decades, including the 1984 Miner’s Strike, the 1989 Docks Dispute and the News International Wapping dispute, as well as numerous rail disputes. 

His landmark cases include a European Court of Human Rights application on the employment of gay servicemen. House of Lords rulings on injury to feelings awards and the dates of outsourcing for TUPE purposes, as well as the Supreme Court decision on whether legal representation is required in internal disciplinary proceedings and the largest ever employment tribunal application by 12,000 retained firefighters, which eventually went to the House of Lords.

Mr Bowers has generously shared his legal knowledge with others, first as law lecturer at Lincoln and St Hugh’s Colleges, and then in print - he has written 15 books including Bowers on Employment Law (now in its Eighth Edition), The Law of Industrial Action and Trade Union Recognition and Whistleblowing. He co-wrote Blackstones Employment Law Practice each year from 2006 until the present and is a frequent contributor to legal journals. He is also a former editor of Atkins Court Forms on Employment.

He is listed as the fourth most reported advocate in the Industrial Relations Law Reports and was Chambers & Partners Employment Silk of the Year 2010.

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