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  1. Norbar Torque Tools
12 March 2009

Norbar Torque Tools Wins Coutts Prize for Family Business

Norbar Torque Tools from Banbury has been named ‘Best UK Family Business, Southern England and Wales Region’, in the £5-25m turnover category of the Coutts Prize for Family Business 2008/9. The company will now go on to compete in the same category at the national finals to be held in central London on 23 June 2009.

Established in 1942, Norbar, as a third generation family business, became the first company in Britain to commercially manufacture a torque wrench. The initial demand was driven by the need for the gasket-less cylinder head of the Rolls Royce Merlin engine to be accurately tightened. Since then, Norbar has continued to invest in the very latest design, manufacturing and quality control technology to achieve the highest level of innovation and precision in the field of torque control and equipment. Now employing 200 people in Banbury, with a further 90 staff within its sales companies in North America, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and China, the company’s philosophy is about providing customers with high quality, value for money products and services while being committed to the principals of environmental sustainability.

Craig Brodey, chairman of Norbar said, “When our solicitors, Brethertons, nominated us for the award we were delighted to learn that the criteria for judging were not just based on a winning performance in the market place but also included some of the other core values that the Brodey family believe are key to a successful business. These include striving for the best practice in family and business governance, social responsibility and environmental sustainability. While we may be a modern company in terms of outlook we have never abandoned some of the key fundamentals that the founder Bill Brodey exemplified such as integrity, respect and a desire to do the right thing by people. We are very pleased to have won this award, reflecting as it does both the pride and the hard work of everyone involved in Norbar.”

Ian Marsh, mediator and founder of familydr Limited and regional chairman of the evaluation committee commented, “As a successful third generation family business, the things that impressed the evaluation committee about Norbar Torque Tools Limited included: their well managed and innovative business, underpinned with a strong business brand and a clear strategic vision, which everyone buys-into; the professional approach taken by members of the family working in the business to ensure they have clearly differentiated roles and responsibilities; their ability to demonstrate their solid set of family values which feed through into their business objectives and the whole way the business is run; and the family’s approach to community involvement and charitable giving through both their family and business activities.”

A special family business

Juliette Johnson, senior family business adviser at Coutts & Co, added, “We’re delighted to provide recognition to this special family business and showcase their achievements for the benefit of other family businesses. What really shines through is the strength of the family’s values. These influence how and why things get done and act as the glue binding the family and business together. These strong values, coupled with their conservative approach and long term planning, should give them the best possible chance to weather this current economic downturn.”

With the current economic downturn businesses are finding it increasingly difficult to survive, which therefore increases the value of recognising these family businesses and their work. The companies that scored most highly were the ones that were able to give examples of what they had achieved.

Mark Evans, head of family business at Coutts & Co, commented: “Success factors that can help family businesses adapt to the current economic downturn are at the heart of the fourth Coutts Prize for Family Business. It will be equally important to take active steps to manage the family as well as the business to survive the current recession.”

The Coutts Prize for Family Business recognises the best run family businesses in England and Wales, and is the only regional and national awards programme in England and Wales celebrating the overall best performing small, medium-sized and large family businesses. The prize compliments Coutts successful Forum for Family Business Owners that is held throughout the UK.

The Coutts Prize recognises firms in three categories (£1 million-£5 million, £5 million-£25 million, £25 million+) that demonstrate a combination of high standards of family governance and corporate governance, a competitive market position, consistent financial growth and a track record of charitable giving or involvement in local community. Entrants must be companies or firms where two or more family members together have control of over 25% of the voting shares and consider themselves as a family business.

More specifically, the independent evaluation committee was looking for examples of best practice including:

  • The strength of the family’s values
  • The involvement of the family
  • Communication and planning
  • The separation of ‘ownership’ and ‘management’
  • The use of external, independent advice
  • The development of a succession planning process
  • Next generation development
  • Conflict management
  • Philanthropy and charitable involvement

The independent evaluation committee is overseen by Roger Pedder, former chairman between 1993 and 2006, of C&J Clark (Clark Shoes), one of the UK’s largest private family companies. It was established in 1825 and is in its sixth generation. Clarks is the leading shoe retailer and brand in the UK and has significant positions in North American, European and Far Eastern markets. Roger remains chairman or non-executive director of several private family and private equity backed companies and runs his own company, Fullzone.

The evaluation committee for the southern England and Wales region includes: Ian Marsh, mediator and founder of familydr Limited; Will Ashworth, managing director of The Hotel and Extreme Academy, Watergate Bay; Tony Bogod, director of Cresco; Edward Nicholson, managing partner of Mercator Partnership; David Frost, director general of the British Chamber of Commerce; Dr Shaheena Janjuha-Jivraj, senior lecturer at the Entrepreneurship Henley Business School, University of Reading; Danny Jatania, director of Lornamead; and Amanda Tincknell, chief executive of The Cranfield Trust.

Renowned cartoonist Robert Duncan will create a unique cartoon for each of the winners, to tell their own story. The cartoons are framed by second generation family business John Jones. Silver plaques are made by third generation family business Piccadilly Jewellers of Birmingham.

The prize for the £1 million-£5 million category was won by Allcooper and the prize for the £25 million+ category was won by Bedfordia Group.

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