STEPPING up to the mark when disaster struck has seen Thrapston-based firm Whitco rewarded for its industry-leading levels of customer service.
Whitco Catering & Bakery Equipment Ltd is known throughout the food industry for its dedication to providing not only an excellent service, but backing that up with support and encouragement that go far beyond customer expectations.
And never more so than its actions after the collapse of construction giant Carillion in early 2018 that left Oxfordshire County Council with numerous unfinished projects, including schools, public sector buildings, day centres, council buildings and fire stations. Whitco rose to the occasion - taking on the completion of catering installations which were not started or half way through completion as well as undertaking the regular maintenance of equipment for some 80 schools, so that they functioned correctly and were gas safe.
This led to the firm being awarded the Outstanding Customer Service Award at the ceda Grand Prix Awards, the leading awards event for the catering industry.
Whitco Director, Vita Whitaker, said: "It didn't occur to us to abandon our clients because of the Carillion collapse, we had a job to do and we did it. It's wonderful to be recognised for it, but to step up and get the jobs finished was just part of what Whitco is all about.
"Supporting other people is so important in business, I always tell people that my time is free of charge - if that is to advise or support in any way I can, then I am happy to do it. Northamptonshire does this well, but there is still room to improve, by buying and selling to each other we are strengthening the county in every way. Organisations like Made In Northamptonshire, where people give their time and their expertise to support others demonstrates that it is vital that we all work together to do that - no one loses anything from supporting other people."
The customer service ethos was very much a part of Whitco founder Jeff Whitaker, who died in January 2018. In his memory, the firm has founded Jeff's Way, a charity that aims to support causes that were close to Jeff's heart. Recent donations have been made to the RNLI and the Sea Cadets, while within the catering industry, two prizes will shortly be awarded to outstanding students at Northampton College to support them in their career progression.
Vita added: "We also aim to complete a brand new Jeff's Kitchen at the Whitco HQ by the end of October. This not-for-profit venture will be managed as a separate entity and its purpose is to be available for hire by locally based start-ups and small businesses trying to grow their business to the next level. Their rent will go towards the kitchen's running costs and training. We currently have three start-ups who wish to use it, one event caterer and two cookery schools."