A world-leading Derbyshire manufacturer of thermal products used to stop oil and gas plants freezing in Russia’s frozen north, and the keep liquid chocolate warm in the pipes of top British confectioners, has just won its seventh award.
And it’s all thanks to the bosses’ daughter, the new broom who at the age of 22 literally swept through her parents’ engineering company from the factory floor up.
Chloe Watmore, now the MD and just 25, saw Chesterfield-based Thermotex Engineering Ltd crowned Manufacturer of The Year in last week’s Midlands Business Awards.
Under Chloe’s guidance, the specialist company now exports its winterisation, solar, sound and chemical protection products across Western Europe, Scandinavia, Russia, Canada, Azerbaijan, Argentina and South Africa.
The Midlands accolade comes within months of the company being named regional winner in the NatWest Great British Entrepreneur Awards 2017, being highly commended for Business Growth and Exports in the National EEF Future Manufacturing Awards.
It also won the Excellence in Manufacturing Award at the Sheffield Business Awards and four awards at the Derbyshire Times Business Awards 2017 – for Business Person of the Year, Business of the Year, Excellence in Manufacturing and Export and International Trade.
Economics graduate Chloe was fresh out of university with no manufacturing experience when took on some work experience at her parents’ 23-year-old business in 2013.
She ended up taking it by the scruff of the neck and hauling it into the 21st century.
Thermotex had only five staff and was making bespoke and customised products by hand with pencils, scissors, tape measures and sewing machines – the way many of its rivals still work.
Chloe started by cleaning the factory from top to bottom to improve morale, then cleared the company of negativity and built a new team of young professionals.
She invested in hi-tec machinery and computerised systems, perfecting product quality and efficiencies and Thermotex is now at the cutting edge of its sector with a staff of 24.
Its custom-designed thermal insulation, heat tracing and bespoke protective casings maintain correct temperatures for equipment and pipework relied on by global clients in the energy, oil and gas markets, the industrial, automotive, residential and commercial property sectors and food producers and medical specialists.
In 2017 revenue was £3.056million, double the previous year and a company record. Chloe is heading to Canada, Copenhagen, The Middle East and China this year to explore new markets and is aiming for a turnover of £15m by 2020.
She said:“I upset people as I fought for the bigger cause. From their point of view, I was only 22 and wasn’t an engineer. I was just Daddy’s Girl, punching above her weight. But mum and dad supported my vision to make Thermotex a world leader and I am so proud of the team which got us there.
“Our awards are recognition of the hard work and support everyone has put in. We are very proud to be at the cutting-edge of the innovative techniques and forward thinking that is happening in manufacturing,” added Chloe, who was named a Top 100 figure in the The Manufacturer’s Top 100 2017 report.
Her dad Peter Watmore, 63, commented: “We never expected Chloe to stay. But she grasped the nettle, took the business to another level and I know it is in safe hands. Many world factors can have a negative effect on our markets but she is already looking to invent new products and enter new arenas.”