The royal family get the benefit of a product made in Helsby so it seems fitting the prestigious Queen’s Award for Enterprise should be presented in person by the Duke of Kent.
Her Majesty’s first cousin was given a factory tour of Heat Trace Ltd, in Chester Road, today (November 27) before presenting the award, in the Innovation category, to owner and chairman Neil Malone.
The company makes heated cables that maintain or raise the temperature in pipes and vessels with a number of applications – including stopping the pipes freezing at the Queen’s Scottish home of Balmoral Castle (and the Houses of Parliament).
The system has also allowed the Innuit communities of Northern Canada to have running water, has melted snow for tourists in Moscow’s Red Square, heated pipelines at the bottom of the North Sea and made sure athletes at the 2012 Olympic Games had piping hot water in their bathrooms.
Neil Malone, who set up the business in 1974, was proud to receive the prestigious award – the UK’s highest accolade for business success – for a second time. The same honour was bestowed in 1987.
He commented: “Heat Trace’s innovation culture has now filtered down to its second generation. The company currently has more patents or applications than at any time in its 40 year history.”
Heat Trace employs 70 staff at its Helsby HQ and the company’s technology and innovation centre in Bredbury.
Its products are distributed through a chain of affiliates, partner companies and distributors, located in more than 50 countries.
Heat Trace moved to Helsby in 2005, to a facility that was once part of the extensive BICC site steeped in cable-making history.
While innovation is the firm’s driving philosophy, Heat Trace remains a family affair. Owner Neil Malone is chairman, while his daughter Suzanne is finance director and her partner Dan Berrisford is managing director.
Other directors Jason O’Connor and Paul Betteridge have 35 years of Heat Trace experience between them. Final board member Steve Bonner is a relative newcomer with “only” eight years’ service but can point to nearly 30 years in the industry.