Expos are the supercharged church fetes of business world

Dee Clayton from Simply Amazing Training receiving her East of England Business Champions trophy from Ian Cording, FSB
Dee Clayton from Simply Amazing Training receiving her East of England Business Champions trophy from Ian Cording, FSB

BUSINESS expos are a bit like a church fete, only supercharged by true believers in free markets who are ready to evangelise all manner of products and services, writes business editor David Tooley.

The Herts SME Expo at Tewin Bury Farm Hotel, near Welwyn Garden City, on October 13 put exhibitors from all over the region in touch with about 350 pilgrims during the day.

When one turns the corner to see a wicker coffin from Austins funeral directors staring back, you know the private sector in Hertfordshire is ready to serve customers even unto the afterlife (if there is one).

All manner of weird and magical products and services were on offer. These included EcoSink, a food waste munching product that turns meal leftovers into waste that can go straight down the plughole or can be collected and turned into gas producing fuel.

What’s more the company that sells it, called EcoService (UK), is based in Dacorum.

Being green and all ecological was one of the big themes of the day.

Dacorum was well represented at the expo, which doubled up as the venue for the final of the first East of England Business Champions.

A company called uPrint, based at the new Maylands Business Centre in Hemel Hempstead, was one of the sponsors.

uPrint boss Steve Mark presented the Best New Business Award to ClearPlan Project Management Limited. It, too has a green focus, urging property owners to consider sustainable building products and services in their builds.

When it came to the awards, Dacorum companies didn’t even make the shortlist but Herts firms as a whole took an overwhelming five out of the six categories.

The overall winner, Simply Amazing Training of St Albans, also picked up the Business Innovation category and the Marketing Innovation award.

Dee Clayton, the company’s owner, is the business equivalent of an exorcist. Simply Amazing Training banishes the demons of confidence by using a little wooden toy and Dee herself is known as ‘the monkey lady’. She urges people to put their fears and worries into the little monkey and they henceforth are able speak in public.

One man who didn’t need any wooden monkey to banish confidence demons was former BBC 3 Counties Radio consumer show presenter Stephen Rhodes.

Stephen, who now runs a media company, was the evangelical priest of the whole event, urging the faithful on to do great things.

Although, in the audience, sat representatives of sponsor Luton Airport, who had been the subject of his doorstepping broadcasts before he jumped radio ship to fight Esther Rantzen in the battle of consumer show high priests in the 2010 General Election. They both lost heavily to a socialist.

The awards’ headline sponsor was the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB). To stretch an analogy, the FSB is the equivalent of the Church of England.

FSB regional chairman Ian Cording, the bishop of the event that covered businesses from the whole of the east of England plus Bucks, told the congregation one of the best things about awards is that they give companies the chance to take a long, hard look at what they are doing.

Which, in church-speak, means they are more effective believers in the creed. Hallelujah!