Animal bedding firm in line for trio of awards

Platts Animal Bedding award; Pictured is Apprentice Ethan McDermott with Caroline Thedens - Managing Director. Picture Mandy Jones

AN ANIMAL bedding firm is in in the running for a trio of awards including a national accolade for the best small business in the whole of the UK.

Platts Animal Bedding, based on Llay Industrial Estate, is a finalist in the Small Business of the Year category at the British Chamber of Commerce’s 2019 Business Awards.

The winners will be announced at a special ceremony on November 28 at the prestigious Tobacco Dock in east London and Platts are the only Welsh firm to make the category shortlist.

The news comes after they have just found out they are also shortlisted for Business of the Year and Young Person/Apprentice of the Year awards at the West Cheshire and North Wales Chamber of Commerce awards, which take place just under a fortnight before at Chester Racecourse.

Caroline Thedens is Managing Director of Platts Animal Bedding, which was started by her parents Robert and Christine from their farm in Marford more than 45 years ago. The company specialises in cattle bedding, in particular for the dairy farm market, but also supplies equine and poultry bedding too.

Caroline said: “To be flying the flag for Wales in the small business category at the chamber’s national awards is an honour in itself and I am thrilled for the whole team to have even got this far.

“We are still very much a family-run firm and getting to where we are has been down to the hard work and dedication of our 58-strong workforce and I think we all feel this has been a tremendous achievement to even make the shortlist.

“I think the judges were probably impressed by the ethos, growth and development of Platts. We take a surplus wood product and recycle it which is a service in itself but we go another important step further and turn it into a top quality product for our customers which makes the whole business model very impressive in terms of sustainability.

“We can also point to many areas of growth within the business, in terms of turnover and profit, job increases and our commitment to investing in and developing the business with new technology, so we can continue to absorb and look after more customers.

“This has happened relatively quickly in recent years. In the last year alone, we have invested £1.2m, which includes state-of-the-art baling technology in our factory allowing us to create a product which is better for both ourselves and our customer.

“Our commitment to investment and development will not stop here and we will invest half a million a year for the next few years too as part of our drive to move forward with further development plans.

“In particular, with our goal to expand further within the Irish dairy farmer market where we know there is more opportunity for us.”

Caroline added she was also very proud of her firm’s young apprentice Ethan McDermott, 18, of Pentre Maelor who was up for his own award at the regional chamber of commerce finals.

Ethan joined the firm in February as a Welding and Fabrication Apprentice who works at the company’s own HGV approved commercial garage which is based close to their main offices in Miners Road and services and repairs the firm’s 25-truck fleet and its 140 trailers.

She said: “Ethan has an extremely mature attitude and proved himself as hardworking, humble and dedicated to his job and professional development since starting with us only seven months ago.

“He’s the ‘perfect role model’ to any apprentice, he’s punctual and takes pride in his work. With his positive attitude and accommodating personality, we feel he will go far in his career at Platts.”

Ethan, a former student at The Maelor School and Ysgol Deiniol County Primary School, attends Coleg Cambria one day a week and is working towards his level one Diploma in Engineering. He spends the rest of his working week mending and converting Platts’ specialist bespoke trailers for collecting the surplus wood from its suppliers.

He said: “I really enjoy my job. It’s the people who have been great to work with and learn from and the brilliant experience I have got from the work that we do.

“I feel like I am progressing and learning all the time which I feel is a great way to start my career.”

Ethan, who has two older brothers and a younger sister, said of being nominated for the award. “It was a shock to me and I really didn’t expect it. It was fantastic of the company to put me forward for it and it has all been part of the positive experience I have had with Platts since I started.”

The company is no stranger to awards, having scooped the Business Growth category at last year’s West Cheshire and North Wales Chamber of Commerce finals. Platts HGV driver and then apprentice Production Operative, Ross Thedens, bagged the Apprentice of the Year award at the same event. Platts was also crowned Scale Up Business of the Year at the Federation of Small Business (FSB) Wales Celebrating Small Business Awards earlier in 2019.

Platts Animal Bedding produces 10 different animal bedding products, specialising mainly in cattle but their range extends to horses and poultry. It is produced using surplus wood products from a variety of manufacturers, turning their unneeded materials into a top quality product for the agricultural industry. The firm’s 25 trucks deliver to farms across the UK and Ireland from their factory and main office sites on Miners Road, Llay Industrial Estate. Their main office is named Parkleigh after the farm where Caroline’s parents started the business more than four decades ago.