A long-established food business is breaking the board room mould after 66 years – and they couldn’t be happier.
Steve Collinge and Kevin Moller have become the first directors at James T. Blakeman and Co Ltd who are not members of the founding family.
Steve and Kevin - who have amassed 50 years’ of loyal service to the business between them- join Mr James Blakeman (Chairman and founder), his son Mr Phillip Blakeman (Managing Director) and daughter Mrs Sue Cope (Finance Director) as directors.
Both are extremely “proud and delighted” with the offer and opportunity for promotion but will not be savouring the rewards for their efforts for long – they are instead looking at how to keep driving the company forward and upholding the values which have been instilled into the business under the stewardship of the Blakeman family.
Mr Phillip Blakeman said: “This is the right time to make these changes and I am absolutely delighted for both Steve and Kevin who have the best interests of this business at heart
“Up until now, Sue and I were the only two directors involved in the day-to-day running of the business, so we are looking forward to welcoming Steve and Kevin on board.
“The business has now reached a size where the extra additions to the board were vital in order to continue to provide the very best service. The pair will be very much hands-on directors who have the continued support of our executive committee”.
Steve and Kevin will sit as Operations Directors over the two arms of the business – Steve with James T. Blakeman and Co. Ltd and Kevin with James T. Blakeman (Services) Ltd.
Together, the companies employ around 250 people and are now recognised as one of Europe’s leading manufactures of sausage and meat products.
Their state-of-the-art factory in Newcastle-under-Lyme in Staffordshire has seen significant investment over the years to keep the business ahead of its competitors.
It’s all a far cry from its humble beginnings.
After the second world war, during which he had served in the RAF, James Blakeman spent a short time as manufacturing supervisor with a pork butcher in Leek, Staffordshire.
In 1953, having picked up what he needed to know about the business Jim decided to set up on his own. He started small, taking a mobile refreshment bar in partnership with his brother-in-law and, at the same time, worked as a freelance sausage/meat manufacturer.
After his marriage to Ann in 1955 the couple bought a farm at Caverswall near Stoke-on-Trent, turning cow sheds and stables at the back into a small manufacturing unit for sausage, cooked meats and poultry.
It was a modest enterprise, supplying four retail outlets with 100 lbs of sausage per week on small, hand-operated machines.
Decades of investment, hard work and very long hours have seen the firm grow to its current position – and both Steve and Kevin are well aware of the proud history, traditions and values of the business they have themselves invested almost half a century of service in between them.
Steve was interviewed by Mr Blakeman senior in 1990 and was introduced into the business by his son Phillip, who was Factory Manager at the time.
Over the next few years Steve showed his leadership qualities and began to progress through the ranks within the business
He said: “I take a huge amount of satisfaction from seeing the amazing things that our teams achieve each and every day. I am really proud of how my team deal with the varied challenges that each day brings and how we enhance the success of the business”
Upholding the family values, reputation for quality and consistency, as well as retaining a happy and stable work force are hugely important to Steve as these are the foundations that Blakemans was built on and will enable the business to maintain and continue to grow its successes going forward.
Steve added: “There are still lots of things I want to achieve within Blakemans. I don’t want to be seen for what I have done but for what I am still able to achieve”.
A holiday abroad was the changing point in Kevin’s life because that is where he met his future wife, but the difficulties of commuting from south of the country, where he was a manager in a cooked sausage manufacturing plant, to the north was becoming extremely difficult.
Kevin then made the decision to uproot and move from the capital to Staffordshire in 2004. Joining the Blakeman production team at their head office in Longport before calling on his wealth of experience and moving on to the new, purpose-built, cooking facility in Newcastle-under-Lyme processing frozen and chilled cooked products.
Kevin has risen through the ranks over the years since March 2004 and said: “Becoming a director is a really special thing. This is a family business to the core and to join Mr Blakeman senior, Phil, Sue – and also Steve – in the board room is a fantastic feeling.”
James T. Blakeman (Services) Ltd produces cooked product for the food-on-the-go, catering and ready meal markets and also boasts a continually expanding contract cooking service for external manufacturers.
Guidance and leadership, provided by Kevin, helped to enable the Services arm of the business to achieve a spot as an M&S A list supplier and in upholding a BRC AA grade, which has been maintained for some years.
Blakemans products are supplied into a large repertoire of businesses, including well-known bakery and coffee shop chains, various supermarkets and wholesalers. Recent investment in a new, custom built production facility has enabled Kevin and his team to manufacture (using the finest ingredients and cuts of meat), fry, chill and package sausage in less than 50 minutes, enabling Services to respond quickly to customer demand.
Kevin said: “The two directorships are an amazing show of trust in the both of us and that is very important. We have recently put the finishing touches to a fantastic extension which has added four new production areas, office space as well as canteen and changing facilities.
“Whilst on the cooked side of the business we invested significantly in the state-of-the-art frying line, giving versatility and growth. Excellent foundations are now in place across all parts of the business for Steve and I to take things on and continue to grow on what the Blakeman family have put in place.”
James T. Blakeman and Co Ltd has been “highly commended” in the Manufacturing Excellence category of the Midlands Family Business Awards for 2018.
It is another impressive achievement for the business which was founded in 1953 by James Blakeman whose son and daughter Phil and Sue are still leading the firm.
Blakemans - recognised as one of Europe’s leading manufacturers of sausage and meat products, were up against stiff competition at the awards which bring together the cream of the region’s business world.
Phil Blakeman, Managing Director of the Newcastle-under-Lyme company, said: “Whilst we are obviously disappointed not to have won the title itself, we recognise it is still a terrific achievement to receive the ‘highly commended’ award.
“We are proud of the fact that the Blakeman family are still leading the business and we continue to go from strength-to-strength. But the family element is much more than just about us at this business.
“We have lots of people who all have family members on our workforce and for me that embodies what a family business is all about. We all pull together as one big family.”
After the second world war, during which he had served in the RAF, Mr Blakeman’s father James spent a short time as manufacturing supervisor with a pork butcher in Leek, Staffordshire.
In 1953, having picked up what he needed to know about the business, he decided to set up on his own. He started small, taking a mobile refreshment bar in partnership with his brother-in-law and, at the same time, worked as a freelance sausage-meat manufacturer.
From those beginnings the business has grown and developed to its current position where it has a multi-million pound annual turnover and employs around 240 people.
Only 48 family businesses won their way through to the final stages of the Midlands Family Business Awards 2018.
Winners were announced recently at a black tie gala dinner at Leicester’s Athena.
Mr Blakeman said: “This year we were named as the Manufacturer of the Year at the Staffordshire Chambers’ 2018 Business Awards so to follow that up with success in the Midlands Family Business Awards 2018 is great for everyone associated with our company - especially as this is the 65th anniversary of my dad starting it all off.”
Now in their ninth year, the not-for-profit Midlands Family Business Awards are backed and run by The Wilson Organisation.
The firm’s MD Charlotte Perkins, the third generation of the family to lead the business alongside her sister Annabel Prow, explains: “The awards are the region’s only independent initiative dedicated to celebrating and recognising the success, achievements and innovations of family run and owned businesses.
“Each of this year’s entrants demonstrated the exceptional pedigree of the family businesses across the Midlands, and the finalists together proved the family business sector’s vital contribution to the region’s economy.”
High-profile cooking programmes have lifted the lid on the pressure cooker atmosphere that most kitchens in the food industry work under.
Time pressured customers are demanding and want quality food and a fast service.
James T. Blakeman and Co Ltd in Newcastle-under-Lyme are conscious of the demands and pressures on kitchens and are geared up to deliver produce which is of a consistent high quality and can be brought to the plate quickly and easily by staff.
The UK meatball market is a great example of this with Blakemans producing an ever-expanding and spectacular range with varieties including pork and chorizo, Aberdeen Angus, BBQ and Moroccan.
Its version includes 48 per cent pork and 35 per cent beef as well as seasoning.
James Morris, Head of Business Development at the company, said: “Our meatballs have been designed for easy portioning. Plus they can be regenerated in a matter of minutes giving consistently high quality results time and time again.
“We aim a lot of these products at the food service industries and for them it is vitally important that they can produce something of quality quickly and consistently. The market is becoming more adventurous though and that is why we are seeing a growth in some of the different types of meatball that our customers are now requesting.”
Another growth area is pigs in blankets.
For years these have been a staple of the Christmas dinner but in recent times they have become a much-requested add on to Sunday dinners.
Blakemans are skinless pork sausages hand-rolled in cured, smoked, streaky bacon.
James said: “They are a great addition to a Sunday lunch and have moved away from being that once a year treat at Christmas to something many families and diners enjoy whenever they tuck into a roast.”
An award winning business has scooped three awards in a prestigious national competition.
James T. Blakeman and Co Ltd has been handed a hat-trick of accolades in the UK Sausage Week Awards.
Results announced yesterday (29 October) have confirmed the Newcastle-under-Lyme manufacturer has been highly commended in the innovative and traditional categories.
And its partnership with another leading brand has also been recognised with a highly commended award in the “Best Manufacturer Own Brand” sausage category.
The honours are the latest in a series of achievements by the family-owned business in this its 65th anniversary year.
James Morris, Head of Business Development, said: “These awards are extremely competitive with all the leading brands and manufacturers present. To come away with three highly commended awards in the face of such stiff competition is an excellent achievement and we are delighted with these successes.”
Already this year the company has been named the winner of the Manufacturer of the Year category at the Staffordshire Chambers’ 2018 Business Awards.
Blakemans is also a finalist in the hugely competitive Family Business Awards.
Mr Morris said: “We are constantly striving to improve performance and products and it is really rewarding for the staff to see their efforts paying off with these amazing awards. And it is particularly pleasing that they are being achieved in such a special anniversary year for our company.”
James T. Blakeman and Co Ltd introduced one of the latest food trends from the United States into Britain for the UK Sausage Week Awards.
It put forward a Wood Pitt Charcoal Pork sausage in the Innovative Category.
Mr Morris said: “Our research on the United States food market pointed us towards this particularly innovative-flavouring and we are very excited by it. And yes, it does use charcoal as an ingredient!
An intrepid trio laced up their running shoes and put their best feet forward to successfully tackle the latest part of a charity challenge.
James Morris together with Roger and Ange Whitehurst completed the Dougie Mac 10k run at the weekend.
Their efforts were part of the ongoing support that award-winning North Staffordshire business James T. Blakeman and Co Ltd are giving the Douglas Macmillan hospice this year.
The three runners joined around 1,800 participants for the run which began in Hanley Park before weaving its way through the Potteries and back to the park for the finishing line.
James, Roger and Ange have already taken part in the Stoke-on-Trent hospice’s other three challenges this year – a 5k run, a Midnight Walk and a lengthy cycle ride.
Medals awarded at each event are fitted together to form a flower which is a lasting memento of their efforts.
The final centre piece of the design can be slotted into place when the trio tackle a walk for the hospice in the coming weeks.
James, who is the Head of Business Development at Newcastle-under-Lyme based Blakemans, said: “The run was pretty tough but we all managed to get round ok.
All three of us are delighted to have tackled the four challenges successfully so far and now we just have one to go.
“Most people in this area will either have a family member or loved one who has been helped by the fantastic team at the hospice and it is great we can give something back by having a go at these challenges and raising funds.”
Staff from Blakemans – which is celebrating its 65th anniversary this year - have made the Dougie Mac their nominated charity for 2018.
The business, which is one of Europe’s leading manufacturers of sausage and meat producers, have not only tackled the Dougie Mac events but have also staged a hugely successful Family Fun Day for staff as part of their fund-raising activities.
Proceeds from all the events and activities during this special year for Blakemans will eventually go to the worthy cause.
A leading North Staffordshire business has been shortlisted for another prestigious industry award.
James T. Blakeman and Co Ltd, which is based in Newcastle-under-Lyme, has won its way through to the final stages of the Midlands Family Business Awards for 2018.
Staff are now hoping to make it a “double tops” after recently beating off stiff competition to win the Manufacturer of the Year category at the Staffordshire Chambers’ 2018 Business Awards.
James Morris, Head of Business Development at Blakemans, said: “We are absolutely over the moon to be shortlisted.
“We are very proud of the fact that this is a thriving family business which the Blakemans have built up from scratch to a position where we are now one of the leading producers of sausage and meat products in Europe.”
“The family are still at the very core of the business and to be shortlisted for a Family Business Award is very special for them.”
“We have all got our fingers crossed now that when the announcement is made later in the year we will be successful although we obviously recognise that competition is going to be very hot indeed.”
Blakemans has been shortlisted in the Manufacturing Excellence category which organisers say received “a high number of excellent nominations.”
The company will now take part in an informal interview with the competition judges on 8 October at Castle Donington near Derby.
Winners and two highly commended businesses will be announced for each category at a black tie event on 22 November.
Mr Morris said: “This year is our 65th anniversary and it is a really special time for the Blakeman family which has seen the business grow from humble beginnings to a hugely successful business.
“Company founder James Blakeman, his son Philip and daughter Susan, are all still key players in driving our business forward and for their efforts to be recognised in this shortlisting for the Family Business Awards is the icing on the cake for our birthday celebrations.”
The World’s Strongest Man showcased his amazing power at a Family Fun Day organised by a company which has backed his rise to international fame.
Eddie Hall delighted fans by signing autographs and posing for photographs at the event which was staged by James T. Blakeman and Co Ltd to say a big “thank you” to their workers for their efforts during the last year.
As well as mingling with fans, Eddie also flexed his muscles by bending a frying pan into a metallic cube.
Part of the special event also included a “Blakemans’ Bake Off Challenge” which involved staff or their loved ones showing off their culinary skills by conjuring up a cake.
A decorated sponge by Karen Johnson was declared the winner.
The company hosted the occasion – its second – at Newcastle Town Football Club at the weekend.
As well as the baking challenge, other activities included a football match, entertainment for children, fund-raising activities and also a barbecue.
But the biggest attraction by far – literally – was local lad Eddie Hall, who powered to glory by winning the strongest man title in Botswana.
He is an ambassador for Blakemans and has been sponsored by the firm as he climbed the tough ladder to success.
Managers described the fun day as a huge success and revealed that around £1,150 was raised which will go into a pot being collected throughout the year for the Douglas Macmillan Hospice.
It was nominated by Blakemans’ as the focus for all of their charitable efforts during this special year which is the 65th anniversary of one of the best-known family businesses in North Staffordshire.
Managing Director Phil Blakeman and his sister Susan Cope, the Finance Director, have offered to match the funds raised at the event taking the final total to around £2,300.
James Morris, Head of Business Development at the Newcastle-under-Lyme based firm, said: “It was a fantastic day and it brings all parts of our business together in celebration of what we have achieved during the last year which included winning the Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce Manufacturer of the Year title.
“We get the opportunity to say ‘thanks’ for everyone’s efforts because without our staff the business would not be what it is today.”
The World’s Strongest Man is to be guest of honour when an award-winning business says a “thank you” to its entire staff and their nearest and dearest.
James T. Blakeman and Co Ltd is hosting a family fun day at Newcastle Town Football Club on Saturday, 21 July.
Activities will include a football match, entertainment for children, fund-raising activities and also a barbecue.
The football match, which is a real team building activity, is set to be the highlight of the event, encouraging everyone at Blakemans to get involved and have fun.
Eddie Hall ambassador for Blakemans, who powered to glory by winning the strongest man title in Botswana, will of course be welcomed to the event. He will be turning up on the day to mingle with the crowds and chat to fans.
This is the second year that the business has organised such an event and managers say it is an excellent way of bringing all parts of the business together and also to say “thanks” for everyone’s efforts during the last year.
James Morris, Head of Business Development at the Newcastle-under-Lyme based firm, said: “We recently won the Manufacturer of the Year category in the Staffordshire Chambers Business Awards 2018 which was a magnificent achievement and a huge honour. So it feels more appropriate than ever to thank our staff because they are such a major factor in all of our success.”
Those who attend will be encouraged to take part in a variety of fund-raising activities including the Blakemans’ Bake-Off Challenge.
Families will be encouraged to bake a cake and bring it along to whet the appetites of judges.
A special prize will be on offer for the winner.
Mr Morris said: “This is our 65th anniversary year and we have nominated the Douglas Macmillan Hospice as our nominated charity for these special 12 months. Everything we are organising in 2018 will see the proceeds going towards the Dougie Mac. This event was a big fund-raiser last year and we are hoping that if the sun keeps smiling on us then it will be even better this year.”
Fund-raisers have completed the third phase of a four-leg charity challenge.
Staff from James T. Blakeman and Co Ltd - one of Europe’s leading manufacturers of sausage and meat products – lined up alongside hundreds of others to tackle the 10-mile Dougie Mac Glow in the Moonlight Walk.
For the first time this year, the walk was also open to men.
Participants were encouraged to dress in all things neon for the 10-mile or five-mile walk, which took place around Newcastle-under-Lyme which is where the Blakemans’ business is based.
The Dougie Mac Moonlight Walk started more than 10 years ago as the Midnight to Sunrise Walk.
In that time more than £879,000 has been raised for the Douglas Macmillan Hospice, or 'Dougie Mac', as it is known to locals which is a hospice based in Blurton, Stoke-on-Trent.
Staff from Blakemans have made the worthy cause their nominated charity for 2018 which is the 65th anniversary of the business being founded.
So far, staff from the company have completed three of the four main charity events the hospice organises each year – the Moonlight Walk, a five kilometre run and a bike ride which can cover up to 92 miles.
James Morris, Head of Business Development at the Newcastle-under-Lyme based firm, was joined on the walk by Roger and Angie Whitehurst.
He said: “It was an amazing atmosphere with loads of people wearing glow in the dark costumes or accessories. For each challenge completed we get a medal and when the fourth one is tackled – which is the 10k run in September – they all fit together to make a lasting memento of our efforts.
“Everyone in this area knows the Dougie Mac and the outstanding work that it does and it is fantastic that Blakemans is marking its special 65th anniversary year by focusing all of our fund-raising efforts for the charity.”
Later this month on 21 July the centre-piece of all the Blakemans’ activities takes place with a family fun day for all staff and their families.
Eddie Hall, the World’s Strongest Man – who is a local lad and an ambassador for Blakemans – will make a guest appearance at the event at Newcastle Town Football Club.
Mr Morris said: “We have supplied domestic and export catering as well as the fast food markets for more than six decades and we simply couldn’t have been as successful as we have been without our staff.
“This event – which is the second time we have organised it – is a chance for us to say ‘thank you’ and to show our appreciation of the efforts our workforce put in.”
This week we meet Jane Selman, head of HR at Blakemans. She tells us about her career, interests and her biggest inspirations.
GIVE ME AN OVERVIEW OF YOUR CAREER SO FAR
As a child I always wanted to be in the police service. However, after college I went into retail on a management trainee scheme with Lewis’s Department Store.
The scheme involved having to move into different departments every six months, and when I moved into training and HR I realised that I’d found my home.
I left Lewis’s to work for several government-funded organisations helping unemployed people get back into work, but I found that I really missed HR so moved back into this field, firstly working as a personnel manager for Wade Ceramics and then moving to Knights Solicitors as their HR and training manager before taking up my current role in 2014.
It’s great to work with such an established local business, which is this year celebrating its 65th anniversary.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE PART ABOUT YOUR JOB?
The fact that no two days are the same. I really love the variety of my role and being able to work with lots of people from different backgrounds and cultures.
I’m involved in recruiting people into the company and in helping them develop their skills, I get a lot of satisfaction in seeing people progress and grow in their roles, we want people to be the best they can be.
For the past few years I have also acted as a mentor for young people still in secondary education, providing them with support and guidance in making the right decisions for their future career plans.
WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO DO IN YOUR SPARE TIME?
I am currently renovating a house (think Homes under the Hammer!). So most of my spare time at the moment is spent stripping wallpaper and tidying up a jungle of a garden. I also enjoy travel, eating out and gardening.
IF YOU COULD LIVE ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD, WHERE WOULD IT BE AND WHY?
I would honestly have to say that I would still want to live in Stoke-on-Trent as that’s where my family and friends are. However, I do love to travel to different places.
WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST ACHIEVEMENT TO DATE?
I know it’s a cliché but I’m very proud of my children, 19-year-old twins. I’ve been a single parent since the twins were six and we’ve developed a very strong bond and coped with some difficult situations along the way.
WHO IS YOUR BIGGEST INFLUENCE/INSPIRATION AND WHY?
I admire people who have suffered adversity but have stuck to their principles. Nelson Mandela springs to mind, he bore so much grace, charm and no hint of bitterness.
IF YOU COULD GO TO DINNER WITH ANYONE AT ALL, WHO WOULD IT BE? WHERE WOULD YOU GO AND WHY?
The venue would be Hampton Court and I would like the first course to be with Henry VIII and then the main course to be with his daughter Elizabeth I. It would be very interesting for the two to meet and see how they get on. I would then like to have dessert with my nan. She died over 20 years ago and I still miss her, it would be great to catch up.
WHAT IS THE ONE MOTTO THAT YOU LIVE AND WORK BY?
I don’t really have a motto, but I believe in trying to be fair and open minded in all aspects of my life. You can’t always give people what they want or agree with them, but by being fair and open minded you can generally get along.
WHAT IS THE ONE THING YOU ARE MOST LOOKING FORWARD TO THIS YEAR?
I've been enjoying short city breaks over the last few years and this year I plan to visit Madrid with my football mad son and then later visit a Christmas Market somewhere in Europe.
Champagne corks popped as a leading Staffordshire company scooped a prestigious industry award.
James T. Blakeman and Co. Ltd was announced the winner of the Manufacturer of the Year category at the Staffordshire Chambers’ 2018 Business Awards last night.
Delighted bosses say the prize is especially memorable as it has come during Blakemans’ 65th birthday celebrations.
The honour follows hard on the heels of a similar nomination in this year’s Signal Radio “Inspiration in Business” Awards where the company was put forward for “training excellence.”
James Morris, Head of Business Development at the Newcastle-under-Lyme based firm, said: “When we were shortlisted for the award we were over the moon because we recognise how stiff the competition is. To have our name read out as the winner at such an incredible event was fantastic because we were amongst the cream of Staffordshire’s business world. It hasn’t really sunk in yet!
“It is a fantastic achievement for all of the staff at our business who work incredibly hard. It is the first time we have entered the Staffordshire Chambers’ Awards and to walk away with such a prestigious accolade – and with it being in our 65th anniversary year – is an amazing feeling.
“We are very, very proud.”
The business collected its prize at a glitzy presentation event held at the Staffordshire County Showground.
The response to Staffordshire Chambers’ 2018 Business Awards was overwhelming with hundreds of high quality entries across all categories.
Sara Williams, Staffordshire Chambers’ Chief Executive, said: “It is great to see how the entries have developed and far exceeded previous years in terms of quality. We see this as a testimony to the healthy state and award-winning potential of businesses within Staffordshire.
“I would like to thank the judges for their dedication to the task and the businesses who took the time to enter. Many congratulations to all of our winners.”
All finalists had to submit a detailed entry explaining why they felt they should be recognised in a variety of categories.
The best went forward to the next stage of the competition which was a visit by members of the judging panel.
All the winners were announced at last night’s gala event which is one of the highlights on the Staffordshire business calendar and attracts hundreds of top class entries each year.
The four-strong team from Blakemans laced up their running shoes to line up alongside thousands of other people to tackle the Potters ‘Arf – one of the most iconic half marathons in the country.
This year’s 13.1 mile challenge saw just under 2,000 take their place on the starting line for an event which includes infamous inclines including one at the 12-mile mark called “Heartbreak Hill.”
The Blakemans’ team of four each ran a section of the race to raise money for the Douglas Macmillan Hospice.
The intrepid four were James Morris, Head of Business Development at the business, Roger Whitehurst (who is one of their buyers), his wife Angela and Claire Old who is related to one of the senior members of staff at the firm.
A target of £6,500 has been set by the company as its fund-raising target during the current year which is its 65th birthday – the equivalent of £100 per year!
The Potters ‘Arf is the latest in a series of events which have already taken place.
This weekend a group from the Newcastle-under-Lyme based business is tackling a 100-mile bike ride and “wild camp” between Staffordshire and Shropshire.
Mr Morris said: “The Potters ‘Arf has been running consecutively since 2005 when it replaced the full Potteries Marathon. The crowds who lined up to support those taking part were amazing.
“The four of us were delighted to be involved in such a fantastic event and the money raised keeps us ticking over towards our £6,500 for the “Dougie Mac” which is our nominated charity for this special year in the history of the Blakemans’ business.”
As well as the gruelling event this weekend, preparations are also well in hand for one of the biggest events in the Blakemans’ calendar on 21 July when the company will be holding a Family Fun Day at Newcastle Town Football Club with a packed programme of events scheduled.
Mr Morris said: “This will be our second one for staff and their families and it promises to be a fantastic occasion. Last year saw a huge amount of money raised from the generosity of employees, their families and also suppliers and customers. We are hopeful of at least the same this year so we can keep pushing towards our £6,500 target.”
Blakemans are celebrating a fantastic double in two prestigious business awards competitions having just been announced as a finalist in the Staffordshire Chambers’ 2018 Business Awards in the Manufacturer of the Year category.
The honour follows hard on the heels of a similar nomination in this year’s Signal Radio “Inspiration in Business” Awards where we were put forward for “training excellence.”
James Morris, Head of Business Development at the Newcastle-under-Lyme based firm, said: “It is a tremendous honour to get through to the final stages of such important awards against the best the business world has to offer in this area.
“It is testament to the hard work and commitment of all of the staff here at Blakemans. We aim to produce quality products that our customers love and when you get recognition for your efforts it is a great boost to all concerned.”
The response to Staffordshire Chambers’ 2018 Business Awards has been overwhelming with hundreds of high quality entries across all categories.
Sara Williams, Staffordshire Chambers’ Chief Executive, said: “It is great to see how the entries have developed and far exceeded previous years in terms of quality. We see this as a testimony to the healthy state and award-winning potential of businesses within Staffordshire.
“I would like to thank the judges for their dedication to the task and the businesses who took the time to enter. Many congratulations to all of our finalists and commended businesses.”
All finalists will now be visited by the judging panels with the winners announced at a gala awards evening at the Staffordshire County Showground on Thursday, 5 July 2018.
More than 400 guests from across the county are anticipated, where they will enjoy a delicious meal and celebrate the achievements of the Staffordshire finalists.
Mr Morris said: “This year is our 65th anniversary and it would be amazing if we can mark such a special year by winning the Staffordshire Chambers’ Award. We have certainly got our fingers crossed and are looking forward to welcoming the two judges to the business in the next few days to show them around what is rightly regarded as one of the leading factories of its kind in Europe.”
Pedal power has helped a team from Blakemans to give a huge boost to a worthy cause.
The team jumped into the saddle to take part in the annual Douglas Macmillan cycle ride with the aim of raising much needed funds for the Blurton-based hospice which the company has chosen as its nominated charity for 2018 – the 65th anniversary of the Blakemans’ business.
Seven members of staff managed to defy the sweltering conditions and complete the hardest cycling challenge – the Dougie Mac Ultra which headed out to the peaks and covered 92 miles.
The magnificent seven were David Oldfield, Andrew Heath, Steven Shufflebotham, Steven Gregory, Paul Malkin, Martin Weaver and Jamie Barker.
Jason Black and Neil Lewis tackled a new 52-mile route from the race starting point at Port Vale Football Club and out towards Flash.
And then James Morris and Louise Morris plus their two children Tyler and Mollie together with Roger Whitehurst, Angie Whitehurst, Delphine Rowley, Steven Morris, Jen Riley and Gareth Riley all managed to complete a nine-mile trip.
More than 750 riders took part in the whole event which was rounded off with a free barbecue provided by Blakemans with some of their mouth-watering products handed out to riders and their families to put a spring back into their steps after their exertions on the road.
Eddie Hall, who is the World’s Strongest Man and an ambassador for Blakemans, was among the guests and as they also had the chance of a video or photograph with the strong man.
James Morris, Head of Business Development at Blakemans, said: “It was a fantastic occasion. We were the headline sponsor of the occasion and we were delighted it was such an amazing success.
“Cyclists turned out in force, both from our business and from across the whole of the North Staffordshire and South Cheshire community to support such a great cause.
“It was a beautiful sunny day which always helps and everyone seemed to have a great time.
“We are delighted that in this special 65th anniversary year for Blakemans we have been able to sponsor an event which raises much-needed funds for a hospice which is so close to the hearts of local people.
“And I was so pleased Blakemans staff rallied round and put on a great showing among the cyclists. We anticipate being able to contribute about £6,500 to the total sum raised.”
The senior management team at Blakemans have committed to undertake fund-raising activities right throughout 2018 for Dougie Mac as just one of the exciting ways the Newcastle-based business is planning to mark its milestone year.
Racegoers will be able to tuck into some specially developed tasty treats thanks to a ground-breaking deal between Blakemans and Uttoxeter Racecourse.
Blakemans have signed up to be one of the key ingredients at a Sausage and Cider Festival which is being staged on Saturday, 7 April. Well-known cider maker Thatchers will provide the liquid part of this dual recipe for success.
To mark the occasion, the experts in our development kitchen have come up with a brand new sausage – a Gourmet Pork, Apple and Thatchers cider special.
James Morris, Head of Business Development commented: “We have already done some tastings with colleagues from Thatchers and it went down a treat. They are delicious and I think they will prove a real winner with punters at the festival.”
As well as the newly-developed sausage, visitors to a Blakemans’ Gourmet Grill which is to be set up at the festival, will also be able to sample our award-winning Gourmet Cumberland hot dog and the Gourmet Gastro hot dog.
Mr Morris said: “This is the first time we have been involved in supporting a major event such as this and we are absolutely delighted to have forged such strong links with Uttoxeter Racecourse which has a very special place in the hearts of racegoers not only from Staffordshire but the rest of the country.
“I am sure the event will be a huge success and we are really pleased that we are going to be part of it and can showcase some of our products to the racing fraternity.”
All of the Blakemans’ produce will be available from a branded outlet which is to be developed specifically for the occasion.
This year we are celebrating our 65th year, a milestone that we are planning to mark in a number of exciting ways. As a business we have always actively supported a number of local charities and community groups through donations, but with this being such an important year for us we wanted to mark it by doing something extra special.
And this starts with our pledge to support the DougieMac, a North Staffordshire based hospice that provides palliative care for adults affected by cancer. This year alone the DougieMac will provide care and support to nearly 3,000 local people and their families.
We have chosen the DougieMac as our nominated charity for 2018 and we are planning to undertake lots of events throughout the year to raise much-needed funds for the hospice.
The first event that the Blakemans’ team will participate in is the DougieMac’s 5K race that takes place later this month. A team made up of our staff will also take part in the hospice’s annual bike ride in May for which we are also the headline sponsor. The event will see entrants raise money through taking on a number of challenging courses from the MiniMac 9 mile route to the Ultra 90 mile course. Participants and spectators will then be able to enjoy some of our delicious sausages at a barbeque laid on at the end of the course.
Other fundraising activity planned during 2018 will see staff members take on the challenge of the Potters Arf Marathon, UK Cooperate games, fun days and sponsored body waxes!
James Morris, Business Development Director at Blakemans commented: “As a business we have always actively supported a number of local charities and community groups through donations, but with this being such an important year for us we wanted to mark it by doing something extra special.
“We already have a great relationship with the DougieMac Hospice and it’s such a worthwhile local charity for us to get behind and support.
“Committing to undertake multiple events throughout the year is a real challenge but one that I know the whole team will rise to.”
Suzi Smith, Head of Fundraising at the DougieMac said: “ We are delighted that Blakemans have chosen to support the DougieMac in what is also a significant year for us, as we celebrate our 45th anniversary.”
“We can’t wait to see all of the activities the Blakemans team take on and we wish them luck in completing all of their challenges!”
Blakemans are continuing their support of a Breakfast Club at Burnwood Primary School in Stoke-on-Trent.
The project is part of an initiative launched by the Greggs Foundation in 1999 in response to growing concerns that many youngsters were attending school without having anything to eat first thing in the morning.
Blakemans began its relationship with Burnwood in September 2015 and the education site’s links with the famous sausage making company are still going strong.
Our support allows more than 60 children from under-privileged backgrounds to be escorted to school via a mini bus/walking bus where they are supplied with as much breakfast as they want at no cost.
The relationship established through the Greggs Foundation – which now has more than 450 Breakfast Clubs providing meals to around 27,000 children every school day - is blossoming and our staff have just paid another visit armed with lots of presents.
Our staff collected colouring books, pens, pencils, games and toys for the children to enjoy while they tuck into their breakfasts.
Penaluna's 2018 winners of 'The Staff Training and Development Award'.
"The Staff Training and Development Award highlights the drive and dedication off staff within establishments to imporve their standards and policy making". Philip Blakeman (Managing Director) James T. Blakeman & Co. Ltd.
"After making some big investments in our staff, it is an honour to be recognised for our work and earn this title". Lee Penaluna (Owner and Managing Director of Penaluna's Famous Fish & Chips Hirwaun, Wales).
A Blakemans’ award-winning sausage is heading into production after our success in a prestigious national competition.
The public will soon be able to taste for themselves what so impressed judges in the Meat Management magazine’s annual celebration of sausages.
We entered our butchers’ select Cumberland sausage into the “traditional category” which attracts producers from all over the country.
And despite it being the first time we have ever entered an awards event of any kind – we beat off stiff competition to take one of the runner-up prizes.
James Morris, Head of Business development at Blakemans commented: “It is a fantastic achievement for our first time of asking.
Competition is incredibly stiff in these awards with quality levels very, very high. So to get the runner-up award was a fantastic feeling for everyone at the company.
“We are now planning to make this 80 per cent meat Cumberland available to our customers – both in chilled and pre-cooked. The judges loved it so we are pretty sure our customers will too.”
The competition is run as part of UK Sausage Week – an event which celebrates the British public’s love of one of their favourite foods.
James said: “We had been working on this sausage as part of a product development initiative for one of our customers. We tasted it and knew it was really good so we decided to enter into the awards even though it isn’t something we have considered before. To get national recognition is fantastic and we are so proud.”
When Mr Philip Blakeman first met Eddie Hall he told him that he was brought up on Blakeman's sausages, so we thought it would be great to get him in and to pull the first order produced from the new £1.3 million pound cooking plant. The blossoming relationship with Eddie has now seen the largest product in Blakeman's history a 12" high meat content sausage named ‘The Beast’ in honour of Eddie and his achievement.
So put your customers to the challenge to see if they too can tackle 'The Beast.'
The '2017 Worlds Strongest Man' Eddie Hall was invited to open the new £1.35 million production facility at the High Carr factory. In true 'Eddie' style he took the strain as he pulled the first production load from the premises, signalling, yet further investment of Blakeman's expansion within the cooked product market.
The conversion of one cold store unit by McVeigh Projects, taking only 40% of its floor space, creating a manufacturing facility from raw ingredients to cooked product all contained in one auditable area.
Blakeman's have increased their cooked volume by up to 35% (42,000 kg) with less handling of its products whilst still maintaining full traceability.
Tote bins of meat are accurately measured by in floor weighing scales, minced mixed using a KG Wetter and transferred to a Handtmann filling system. Sausages are then portioned and transported by an Arnott conveyor directly to the GEA inline frying facility. The process from raw material to finished cooked product in less than 50 minutes reduces the lead time for customers in the ever fast paced food industry.
"That is as impressive as Eddie"
A massive well done To Eddie 'The Beast' Hall who was crowned 'The Worlds Strongest Man' in Botswana today, (28th May) the first British man to take the title in 24 Years.
Following his historic win Eddie's manager Mo Chaudry said that he is pleasantly shocked and very proud.
"Eddie has dreamed of this day for the last six years of his life, he had to be on the money his training has been relentless to make his dream come true."
He beat the Icelandic strongman Hafpor Julius Bjornsson in to second place, who is well know for playing 'The Mountain' in Game of Thrones. Eddie also beat the four times winner Brian Shaw of the USA who finished in third place.
Huge Congratulations from all at Blakemans
Blakeman's are extremely proud to be sponsors of supreme Eddie 'The Beast' Hall, 5 times the UK's strongest Man and 3rd Strongest Man in the world, as he enters the competition arena this year to realise his goal to become the winner. Eddie a local lad with a strong appetite for Blakeman's sausages holds the world record for a dead-lift of 500 kg that is just under half a ton or in Blakeman's terms 110 boxes of Supreme Sausages.
Eddie 'The Beast' Hall retains his UK title of The Strongest Man at the Doncaster Dome
He said: "I gave it my all and I think I won by a good 10 points. I could have missed an event and still won so I'm pretty happy with that."
It is so important to me to keep improving on my weaknesses and my strengths.
Thanks to all the people of Stoke-on-Trent who are behind me in my effort to win 'The Worlds Strongest Man' title later this year.
...Wow! Good Luck Eddie from all at Blakeman's in your quest.
John Dory's in Lisburn, County Antrim, has won the Staff Training and Development Award after frying out on top at the 2017 National Fish & Chip Awards (26 January), organised by Seafish.
“We recognise the importance of up-skilling our workforce and have put staff through numerous formal courses, supplemented with in-house training. We want to provide opportunities for our staff to gain qualifications and develop their skills.
“I’m so proud to be bringing a national award home to Northern Ireland! Over the past few years we have worked hard to ensure that high standards are met across all our locations and we will continue to strive for excellence.”
Mark Polley (Director) John Dory’s
Lisburn, County Antrim
The UK’s best up-and-coming young fish friers, announced as part of the 2016 National Fish & Chip Awards, got an inside glimpse into the James T Blakeman & Co. Ltd. ‘Supreme Sausage’ factory today (8 September) as they experienced a behind-the-scenes tour of the 57,000 sq ft manufacturing facility.
As the factory opened its doors, the frying enthusiasts discovered the ingredients, staff and state-of-the-art equipment and distribution systems that go into producing one of the UK’s finest sausages. They also got one-on-one time with Rachel, learning tricks of the trade as they refined their sausage frying skills.
Philip Blakeman, said: "We wanted the young fryers to see for themselves how Blakeman’s quality products are manufactured with the utmost care and dedication.
“This tour of our factory may be a first for some young fryers. I hope they leave with the knowledge of how the humble sausage they serve to their customers is produced.”
A chilling amount of £900,000 invested is some what thawed by the efficiency and productivity gains at James T. Blakeman (Services) & Co.Ltd cooking plant, with the installation of a double belted helix spiral freezer.
The schedule for the removal of an ageing system and installation period, whilst maintaining normal production would have taxed the metal of many a factory manager. The project management conundrum was put into the hands of Blakemans factory manager Kevin Moller, "this project to say was a headache would be understating the task, yet after a strenuous 9 week period the plant was up and running" says Kevin.
The helix spiral double belted freezer system allows for better product integrity and allergen control combined with greater energy savings and boasts a product infeed temperature of +77° with an output of -30° within 30 minutes. Starfrost Freezing & Chilling Systems of Lowestoft were contracted to install a full internal stainless plant with a highly efficient hot gas defrost and CIP (Clean in Place) system, allowing for rapid cleaning and improved hygiene, with easy to clean slideable conveyor belts a further feature of the installation.
The location of the 'Green Solution' zero environmental impact Ammonia Glacier plant to an external site allows for a significant noise level reduction and frees up space in the working environment.
The ongoing investment translates into lower operating costs with improved productivity and enhances Blakeman's standing in the industry and consolidates the commitment to its customers.
Delicious skinless pork sausages wrapped in tasty smoked bacon combined together to produce the classic traditional favourite ‘Pigs-in-Blankets’, a perfect addition to any meal.
“James T. Blakeman & Co. Ltd are proud to be associated with ‘The Breakfast Club project a Greggs Foundation initiative started back in 1999, to give disadvantaged children a nutritional start to their day.
Blakemans having become a well established local and national company within the food industry felt the need to support it’s local community with help on this meaningful programme. We fully endorse ‘The Breakfast Club’s values for improving health, nutrition, social awareness and attendance, which can only lead to a positive improvement in the classroom results.” Mr Philip Blakeman Managing Director
On June 23rd the partnership officially launched the 333rd Breakfast Club at The Burnwood Primary School in Chell, Stoke-on-Trent with Lynne Hindmarch from the Greggs Foundation and Mr Alan Green representing Blakemans aproned up to help out in the kitchen.