Top 100 manufacturing heroes 2022

  Tuesday, 06 December 2022 16:43
Image courtesy of The Manufacturer. Image courtesy of The Manufacturer.

We’re ecstatic at Focus SB that three of our colleagues have been recognised with an award for their outstanding work in this year’s Top 100!

The Manufacturer Top 100 2022 celebrates Britain’s manufacturing heroes across a broad spectrum of talent from those just starting out to those who’ve achieved excellence in their careers.

Announcing the winners and launching its publication for the 100 most inspirational individuals working in UK industry, The Manufacturer’s Editor Joe Bush hosted this year’s ceremony sponsored by Cranfield University and Michael Page Engineering & Manufacturing.


Net Zero Hero - Gary Stevens MD

Someone who has been instrumental in inspiring their company to step up to the sustainability challenge and is driving the journey towards net zero within their organisation - shining a beacon on sustainability in the workplace and influencing a real positive change around the green agenda.

Gary Stevens, Managing Director

About Gary, who this year accepted DIT Export Champion role for a second year and is committed to supporting apprenticeships as well as to our ongoing green energy investment programme which saw solar panels installed at our main factory in June - and whose dream job would be a “forensic scientist” if he wasn’t in manufacturing!

“I have been in manufacturing all my career having started life as a technical apprentice after leaving school. I am passionate about UK manufacturing and about developing new apprentices within the sector. I have learned whilst working and at the same time. have achieved a Chartered Institute of Marketing Diploma and an MBA, both sponsored by my employer at the time. so it didn't cost me anything other than a lot of time and effort. At least haven't got a huge student debt to pay off! I have reached the level of Managing Director in two manufacturing companies and if I can inspire just one young person to do the same, then I will be very happy.”


Unsung Hero - Val Chandler Assembly Manager

Someone who is instrumental in facilitating the success of those around them and the success of the business as a whole. They are the constants that provide support and knowledge both downwards and upwards within the professional hierarchy.

Val Chandler with 'Unsung Hero' Top 100 award trophy

About Val, who celebrated 25 years of service on 15th March. With over 35 years experience in electrical manufacturing Val has long been the only female member of our senior management team. Val is a great advocate of employing a more inclusive and diverse workforce demonstrated by her extensive work with local charity Little Gate Farm Supported Employment. We are a Disability Confident Employer and Val has been key to contribute to the charity’s journey for over four years now which has seen three people come to us, two of which are now permanently employed valuable part time members of staff in the assembly department. Her work doesn’t go unnoticed with Little Gate voting Focus SB ‘Most Dynamic Employer’ in 2019! Val also plans work experience for students from local schools and colleges, with support from Jo Cloute our HR & Customer Aftercare Manager who is an Enterprise Adviser (since 2018), and has employed two warehousing apprentices to date in her department. She believes that everyone deserves a chance so she is always the first to offer her time to help others.

Val tells the Top 100: “As a Focus SB Senior Manager, I have worked my way up from the bottom, gaining knowledge and skills along the way. That is why I believe that with the right training and support, everyone deserves a chance. So, I am always the first to offer my time to help others. plus I am a great advocate of employing a more inclusive and diverse workforce. which has been demonstrated by my extensive work with our local charity Little Gate Farm, planning work experience for schools and employing apprentices. I have diabetes but it never stops or hinders what I want to do.”


Young Pioneer - Anni Sanders, Supply Chain Warehouse Operative

A person who has made an impact disproportionate to their years, providing inspiration for the future of manufacturing in the UK.

Anni Sanders with 'Young Pioneer' Top 100 award trophy

In spite of lockdown challenges, Anni has proved that an apprenticeship can be successfully achieved with a positive attitude, determination, hard work and the right support. Showing incredible self belief in her ability to commit to her apprenticeship and a career in manufacturing despite a bleak outlook for apprentices and businesses with unsettling economic and health challenges for many during the COVID pandemic, Anni’s apprenticeship journey, her achievement, and her welcome (and essential) support for Focus SB’s operations during such a challenging time is an inspiration. She shines a light on the manufacturing industry and is an inspiration to other young people who perhaps may not have considered a role in manufacturing or engineering, or the varied apprenticeship opportunities manufacturing has to offer with the flexibility to continue training and secure a long term career.

Anni tells the Top 100 her dream job would be an army canine handler if she weren’t in manufacturing! Anni’s advice to others is “don’t be scared to say yes to opportunity”:

“I was lucky enough to do my Year 10 work experience with Focus SB, and I really enjoyed the environment and the different types of work I could do. When I finished secondary school, Focus SB contacted me to say they had an apprenticeship available, so I applied. It was either an apprenticeship for me or a year at college doing engineering. I find it easier to learn on the job and I liked the idea of being paid while I learn. I’m very organised and like working with my manager in the warehouse. It's fun and since completing my apprenticeship I’m still learning, recently passing my forklift licence.”


 Joe Bush, Editor at The Manufacturer congratulates the winners:

“The people who make up this industry are quite simply amazing; thriving in their roles during a year that has seen even more challenging circumstances thrown at a sector already battling on several fronts, such as the skills shortage, supply chain disruption, sustainability and digital transformation. Huge congratulations to all those involved. It is thoroughly well deserved and I speak for all of us at The Manufacturer and our Judging Panel when I say we are all proud of your achievements in making manufacturing in the UK the innovative and forward looking sector it is today.”

TOP100 publications can be downloaded at The Manufacturer Top 100.

Focus SB also won two Top 100 awards in 2018!



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