Welcome to the Cornwall’s Top 20, the first in what will be an annual listing of who we consider to be among the Duchy’s most influential, important and forward-thinking business people at the current time. The 20 listed, in no particular order, represent Cornwall’s key industries from marine and IT through to agriculture and tourism, and the public sector which has a particularly central role to play here. We could easily have published a Top 30, or a Top 50, and there will be many high-profile omissions, but we feel those named below are leaving a significant impression on the local business scene and fully deserve their inclusion.
Toby Parkins’ just off the beach look has set the trend for many up and coming business people in Cornwall.
Over the past ten years he has built a solid and trusted web development company within a renovated Engine House overlooking the Atlantic working with companies large and small, locally and internationally.
As a keen networker he was instrumental in helping new and young businesses enter the market through co-founding the Cornwall Hub. He is a regular member of business award judging panels and a director of the Cornwall Chamber of Commerce and Industry. He has been a regular attendee at the ‘I’d Rather Be in Cornwall’ events promoting Cornwall as the place to do business.
More recently Parkins has helped lead Cornwall into the digital future through a series of innovative events including the Insight: Sessions which saw leading experts briefing local SMEs on the economy and other important business matters. Parkins is a regular speaker on ecommerce and has played a major role in the organisation and development of the Cornwall Twestivals and Cornwall Social Media Café.
As chief executive of the largest network of businesses in the Duchy, the Cornwall Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Richard Glover is a key voice for the private sector in a landscape often dominated by public sector.
And since being appointed chief executive in 2008, Glover has wasted little time in reinvigorating the organisation. A key voice in the private sector, not only has he successfully rebranded the organisation, he has grown its membership and also forged close links with the British Chamber, which represents a million businesses across the UK.
Prior to being appointed chief executive, Glover had spells with the Tate Gallery in St Ives, and also Cornwall Arts Marketing, and Truro Cathedral.
Cornwall has a proud maritime history and one of its finest jewels must surely be luxury superyacht builder Pendennis Shipyard.
Since Mike Carr led a management buyout of the Falmouth-based company in 1994 along with fellow director Henk Wiekens, Pendennis has carved out a significant clientele within the growing
super-yacht maintenance sector. Every luxury motor yacht built, becomes another of the 4,000-plus high-maintenance launches that require annual servicing and upgrades.
Since diversifying in 2004, Pendennis has doubled the number of workers at its yard from 150 to 300 and impressively weathered the economic downturn. Its revenue has grown from £9 million in 2005 to a current £24 million, and it has invested in excess of £8.5 million in its infrastructure over the same period.
Carr is a qualified naval architect, who after graduating from Southampton University worked with Vosper Thornycroft for eight years before joining Pendennis in 1989.
Cornish industrialist Mike Jordan is chairman of Penryn-based Cornish Stairways International (CSL), a bespoke staircase designer for luxury developments around the world, including some particularly high profile commissions for the Dubai royal family.
His most recent project was the Yas Island Hotel in Abu Dhabi, where CSL did all the glass balustrading and feature stairways. The hotel was used as the centre piece for the end of year Formula One race, where the track goes through the inside of the hotel.
Closer to home, Jordan is a passionate supporter and often outspoken commentator on the Cornish business scene and the development of the local economy. He has strongly backed investment in the university sector, and for many years has called for the dredging and development of Falmouth Harbour. Consequently, he was none too impressed last year when the RDA ruled out financing the project, a decision he called “devastating”.
We make no apologies for including so many figures from the public sector in this list. Like it or not, the public sector probably has a stronger role to play on the business stage in Cornwall than in any other region in the UK. And as chief executive of Cornwall Council, it is one of Kevin Lavery’s (many) responsibilities to ensure that Cornwall’s business community is given every opportunity to thrive.
And Lavery’s background should make him sympathetic to the challenges of the public/private relationships in Cornwall, having worked in senior positions on both sides of the fence for the likes of BT and Serco, and at Newcastle City Council, where he was the council’s youngest-ever chief exec.
In his current position at County Hall, Lavery is keen that Cornwall has as much control over its destiny (and Government and European spending budgets) as possible. But as the country slowly moves out of recession, an immediate pressing concern for Lavery will be how to manage what, in his own words, will be the “mother of all spending cuts”.
A keen supporter of the Cornish business sector, St Austell Brewery MD James Staughton is the fifth generation to run the brewery which has grown to become one of the Duchy’s largest employers, with a 1000-strong workforce and an £80 million turnover.
While the company has been family run and owned since being founded in 1851, Staughton still had to work his way up through the ranks and serve his apprenticeship after joining the business at the age of 21, before finally assuming his current position in 2000.
As well as brewing five main cask ales and a selection of bottled beers, which helped it become the 2009 Regional Brewer of the Year, the company also owns 174 pubs, and as the largest wholesale
Distributor of beer, ciders, wines, spirits and soft drinks in the south west, serves more than 3,000 free trade accounts.
Staughton takes a keen interest in the Cornish business scene and sits on the board of the Cornwall Development Company.
While neighbour Pendennis caters for the luxury market and multi millionaire clients, ship repair company A&P’s client base is somewhat less sexy (cross channel car ferries, MoD etc). Its importance to the local economy, however, is probably evengreater, being the largest private sector employer in west Cornwall.
Peter Child has been at the helm of A&P Falmouth for seven years, having joined the company in 1994. He is a leading voice in the campaign to dredge Falmouth harbour and build a new cruise terminal to attract the new breed of super cruise liners to stop by the town, which supporters say could bring millions of pounds in new revenue to the Duchy every year.
Those plans received a setback last year when the RDA, hampered by enforced cutbacks, said they could not afford to back the scheme. However, Child reiterated his and A&P’s commitment and intention to seek funding elsewhere. But whatever happens, 2010 is sure to be a landmark year for A&P Falmouth, as it celebrates its 150th anniversary.
If profile counts for anything in the business world, then Worldwide Financial Planning managing director Peter McGahan is a key man. McGahan and Worldwide probably have a very large awards cabinet indeed.
McGahan has carefully nurtured his own and his company’s reputation in the marketplace. He has written for various local and national publications, including those of such repute as the Financial Times, and other media including the BBC and Channel 4.
And recently, McGahan was even ranked by one financial advice publication as being more influential than the Bank of England and Chancellor-in waiting George Osborne!
Worldwide was founded in 1998 and has offices in Wadebridge and Truro.
Director of the Convergence Partnership Office, and prior to that Director of Objective One Partnership Office, Carleen Kelemen is a tireless ambassador for the Duchy on the domestic and European stage.
As the very public face of the European funding programmes, it is Kelemen’s task to promote the progress and delivery of Convergence to the European Commission and to engage the wider community.
Born in Australia, Kelemen has enjoyed a varied and international career, having worked in Australia, America, Germany, Austria and the UK in careers spanning managing consultancy, music, manufacturing and economic regeneration.
Outside her Partnership Office role, Kelemen mentors a number of women in business and young people. She plays an active role on the SW Regional Skills Board and is keen to see closer alliance between business and education. She is an ambassador for Women’s Enterprise UK, is the patron for Truro and Penwith College’s Empowering Smart Women project and a member of the South West Children’s Hospice Appeal Board for Cornwall. She is on the committee for the Institute of Directors for Devon and Cornwall and a board member of the Devon and Cornwall Business Council.
A leading figure in the tourist industry, Malcolm Bell ‘returned home’ last month, taking up the reinsat VisitCornwall following ten years heading up Visit South West.
The tourism industry is the single largest contributor to Cornwall’s economy, accounting for something like 40% of the Duchy’s GDP.
A proud Cornishmen, prior to being appointed chief executive at South West Tourism in April 1999, Bell served as director of economic development with PROSPER (the joint Business Link and Training & Enterprise Council for Devon & Cornwall).
He is an expert advisor to the European Commission and a member of the EC’s Tourism Sustainability Group and is leading a working group to establish a core set of indicators to measure sustainable tourism.
Another inclusion from the public sector is the RDA’s lead man in Cornwall, Theo Leijser.
The RDA is responsible for having funded a number of key schemes in Cornwall, including the Eden Project, the Combined Universities in Cornwall (CUC) and Newquay airport. It is also responsible for managing the European Convergence programme in Cornwall.
Prior to moving to the Duchy in 2007 to take up his current position, Leijser was chief executive of sustainable development organisation Forward Scotland, and also spent five years delivering socio-economic regeneration programmes with the Strathclyde European Partnership.
In the 1980’s, Dutch-national Leijser spent many years working in Africa, including a stint with Médicins Sans Frontieres as a project director in Sudan.
To the TV fans among you, Leijser may be best remembered for appearing in Channel 4’s popular Grand Designs show, where he built a house from sustainable wood in Scotland. Leijser also sits on the board of CPR Regeneration.
Simon Tregoning runs and owns one of Cornwall’s most successful companies in the tourist industry – Classic Cottages, a holiday cottage marketing agency promoting some 700 properties right across the south west.
While Classic Cottages was founded in 1977 by Tony and Clare Tregoning, Simon Tregoning did not join the Helston-based family firm until November 1989, following four years with the Bank of England.
A keen advocate for sustainable tourism, Tregoning has established a number of green initiatives at Classic Cottages, including its free Green Guide, which was first printed in 2008 and is now also available online. It was initiatives like this that last year helped Classic Cottages to be awarded gold status by the Green Tourism Business Scheme.
Sarah Trethowan owns and manages Tolvaddon-based Regulatory affairs consultancy TRAC Services Ltd along with her husband Jonathan, having launched the company in 2001. The company works with leading pharmaceutical companies from around the world, providing them with a range of specialist regulatory services.
Trethowan has keen influence in the Cornish business sector, sitting on a number of steering groups and boards, including CPR Regeneration, and the Cornwall Development Company.
Last year, along with her husband, Trethowan was named Business Leader of the Year at the Cornwall Business Awards.
As chief executive of Peninsula Enterprise, it is Adam Chambers’ job to deliver the Business Link services across Somerset, Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.
A senior executive from Serco’s economic development business unit, Chambers has been the architect behind the new Business Link service arrangements since the South West of England
Regional Development Agency confirmed the appointment of Serco as the new provider of services in April 2007.
Peninsula Enterprise was established by Serco when it merged the organisations Business Link Somerset and Business Link Devon and Cornwall, to create a single service across the three counties.
In a wide-ranging career that has included leadership roles in a number of science, innovation and technology-led businesses, Chambers recognises the importance of ensuring that businesses are able to access the right advice and guidance in a way that best suits their needs.
Out of all the recent projects funded through first Objective One, and now Convergence, Unlocking Cornish Potential (UCP) must be right up with the biggest successes.
And as head of graduate placements at UCP, Allyson Glover is responsible for matching some of Duchy’s best graduate talent with some of Cornwall’s most progressive companies.
It is one of those, excuse the cliché, ‘win-win’ situations where the graduate gets a valuable year’s paid work placement, which more than not leads to a permanent position, and the business has the benefit of some of Cornwall’s best young talent, with back-up support, mentoring and the even the possibility of a wage subsidy.
As MD of both King Harry Ferry and Cornwall Ferries Ltd, and director of Fal River Links, former
Kings Regiment army officer Tim Light sits at the very heart of Cornwall’s developing marine transport sector and flourishing tourist industry.
Light has been running the business since 2001, and since then has totally revamped the marketing operation to turn the company into a well-oiled and forward-thinking machine.
A strong supporter of the Cornish tourist industry, Light has voiced his concerns that the public sector fails to fully grasp and appreciate the importance the visitor economy offers to Cornwall.
And he has a simple rule for anyone in business – have fun. “There’s not much point being in a business you don’t enjoy.”, he says.
Catherine Mead abandoned a successful career in advertising in London in the late 1980s to move back down to Cornwall along with husband Ben (who was a motoring journalist) to take over the running of the family farm in Ponsanooth.
Under the their guidance, the farm business began to diversify to become Lynher Dairies, one of Cornwall’s most celebrated cheese makers, responsible for producing some 200 tons a year, including Yarg.
The Meads run an extensive farming system, and are currently converting to an organic and biodynamic system, which will be reflected in future product development.
An influential figure in the Cornish agriculture sector, Mead also chairs the Cornwall Agri Food Council, and is vice chair of the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Regional Implementation Group (strategic body associated with the Rural development Programme for England). She is also sits on the board of the Specialist Cheese Makers Association.
Mark Duddridge is managing director of Cornwall’s largest private sector employer, and arguably the most famous – Ginsters.
Duddridge has been in the chilled food and biscuit industry since leaving university in 1984. He joined Ginsters’ parent company Samworth Brothers in 1997, and two years later was appointed to his current position.
When he took the helm at Callington-based Ginsters, the pasty company was going through a challenging trading period. But in his charge, he has taken the brand from strength to strength, and last year the company was named Best Bakery at the Food Manufacture Excellence Awards.
In 2007, Duddridge was appointed The Prince’s Ambassador for the South West.
Next Generation Access
As director of Next Generation Access for Cornwall, it is Nigel Ashcroft’s task to bring faster broadband access to Cornwall’s business community.
Previously Ashcroft was director of Objective One flagship, actnow, where he played a key part in the roll out of broadband access across Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. It is achievements like this that last year earned Ashcroft an honorary doctorate in technology, presented by the University of Plymouth.
And now the envelope has been pushed forward further. High speed broadband is seen as vital to Cornwall’s economic future, but it is no longer acceptable just to have connectivity. Ashcroft’s ambitious aim now if for Cornwall to have the fastest speeds in the whole of the UK.
Lucy Jewson embodies much of the entrepreneurial and can-do spirit that Cornwall is known for.
After graduating as a marine biologist and landing a well-paid job as a medical sales rep, Jewson opted out of the rat race to bring up her young family at home, while running a small business from her front room – organic baby clothes brand Frugi.
Since those early days some six years ago, that small business has somewhat grown to offer children’s and mums clothes as well, and this year expects to turnover £2 million.
Entrepreneur, ecopreneur, mumpreneur, terms that have all been applied to Jewson. A former Entrepreneur of the Year at the Cornwall Business Awards, Frugo was recently placed top of the table by Ethical Consumer Magazine for having the best eco credentials in the UK for a children’s wear brand.