Behind the scenes at Gaudio
PUBLISHED: 09:00 17 February 2016
What goes into the design of some of the world's most iconic awards? We visit a fast-growing awards design and manufacturer in Tewkesbury
We’ve seen them all: Hollywood actors, sporting heroes and gushy, tearful winners and achievers, all standing in their particular spotlight clutching a beautifully-designed award and thanking everybody for everything. However, I don’t remember them ever thanking the company that created the award they’re sweatily holding.
So we’re going to.
And the winner is . . . . Gaudio! This Tewkesbury-based business makes some of the UK’s most iconic awards: Beautiful designs that sit on the mantelpieces of global achievers.
If you watch Masterchef, the Pride of Britain Awards, BBC Radio 1 Teen Awards, even some of the Formula 1 motor-racing series, all their awards are designed, manufactured and finished in the Cotswolds.
It’s the physicality of an award that matters so much. A pat on the back and a handshake, even in front of one’s illustrious peers, only lasts until the next time it’s awarded. But for the recipients, an award they can hold imbues everything they’ve worked hard to achieve: the toil, emotion and public acknowledgement that at one time they were first among equals.
For the companies that award them, it’s a brilliant way to boost a brand and associate it with importance and standing. After all, no one gives awards for mediocrity.
Gaudio was established in 2008 by Adam Hutchinson who discovered a niche market that, eight years later, continues to grow. The company employs over 20 members of staff and has a turnover of £1.4 million.Thirty-five per cent of its orders are exported. Such has been the company’s recent growth that it has moved its design and manufacturing facilities to new premises at Tewkesbury Business Park and Adam has long term plans to bring all departments, including a polishing facility at Upton on Severn, under one roof there. He’s also invested in a £200,000 CNC Milling machine that is not only producing higher quality awards, but is cutting them faster too, boosting production.
Adam, an engineer by training, is driven by quality. He comes up with a great quote: “Profit is a byproduct of doing a great job.” It’s a simple thing to say, less easy to put into practice, but with 96% client retention, Gaudio is delivering.
It’s not just producing small quantities of annual awards: One of the company’s biggest recent orders has come from the UK’s Investors in People programme, which has commissioned the company to produce and distribute in excess of 40,000 plaques over the next few years. It also products affiliate programme plaques for some of the world’s most well known companies.
Adam is an entrepreneur, and I don’t use the word lightly. He is extremely dyslexic; and only started to thrive when he got his first job working as a development technician for a company called Ultronics. When the company received a £27 million investment for an electro hydraulic control system Adam was controlling JCBs in Japan from his computer screen, but he also found himself spending two weeks of every four commuting to China, until the company was sold to Eaton Hydraulics, a move he didn’t enjoy.
“Without a degree, I didn’t fit into the new environment, so they made me global training manager.” He was bored. In his training role he also discovered that all that the company give people for their achievements were T-shirts.
“I’d always thought about having my own business – nothing huge, just six or seven people. This seemed like a niche which I might be able to fill.”
While still working for his previous company, he researched the awards industry and discovered that this particular niche is worth around £70 million a year and growing. In an entrepreneurial rush of blood to the head, he left a secure job and launched his new company when his wife was six months pregnant with their first child. One of his first orders was for an award for Formula Kart Stars, the go-karting championships where a young Lewis Hamilton triumphed.
From these first successes, achieved by designing and manufacturing awards in his dad’s garage, the business has grown organically. “Every time I find myself spending half my day doing one job, I take another person on to do it.” In this way he is continually freeing up his time to push the business forward.
“My staff are the reason this business is successful,” he adds. “I steer the ship, and find the projects. They do pretty much all the rest.”
A few years ago Gaudio was selected by the Goldman Sachs Foundation as one of the fastest-growing businesses in the UK. The prize was top-notch management training for Adam at Aston University in Birmingham. He says it gave him the right mind-set to be able to grow the business.
“The awards industry is quite traditional. There are only around four companies in the UK doing what we do, and most of them don’t manufacture here – they put out their manufacturing overseas, often to companies in China.
“Our advantage is that we do it all here, in Tewkesbury, so we can turn around orders very fast if need be.” At Gaudio there is no waiting for a prototype to arrive on a slow boat from China.
Having established the company at the top end of the awards’ industry and invested in new technology, Adam is planning to broaden the company’s offer to include trophies across the market. “We have the capability to produce standard off-the-shelf trophies at a price point which will suit a larger market.” That includes amateur clubs and organisations that want to celebrate local achievement as well as the glamorous occasions for which Gaudio is best known in the industry.
The company has certainly planned for growth, which Adam predicts will be 40% this year, thanks to the company’s new machinery investment, and 25% the following year as it consolidates before pressing forward again.
“This is a great industry to be in,” he says. “And I don’t think we’ve even scratched the surface of what we can achieve.”