WOKING-BASED Harvey Water Softeners has been presented with the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in Innovation by the Duke of Kent, who visited the Hipley Street factory and offices.
The Duke was given a demonstration of the company’s products and then taken on a tour of the factory and production line where thousands of domestic water softeners are made each year.
He presented the trophy to company founder Harvey Bowden and Martin Hurworth, the managing director.
Harvey was chosen as a winner of The Queen’s Award for Enterprise in Innovation for 2018 for its invention of the first compact, non-electric block salt water softener.
Guests included Michael More-Molyneux, the Lord Lieutenant of Surrey, Jonathan Lord, the MP for Woking, Jeannie Satchell from the Local Enterprise Partnership Enterprise M3 and John Pearce, CEO of the manufacturing organisation Made in Britain, of which Harvey is a member. Also, in attendance were Beryl Hunwick, the deputy Mayor of Woking, and Louise Morales, the borough councillor for the area around the Harvey.
Mr Hurworth said: “We’re really pleased to have won this award and it’s great that our team has been able to take Harvey Bowden’s original idea and grow this business into the success it is today – so well in fact that we now need to move to larger premises to keep that growth going.”
Mr Lord said: “What a great Woking business success story we have here. What began as one man with a dream is now the largest water softening company in Europe with 300 staff in Woking alone.
“It only goes to show what can be achieved when you develop the best product and have the drive and ambition to go out and sell it to the rest of the world.
“Harvey Water Softeners is an amazing example for local businesses.”
The compact twin-cylinder water softener was invented by Mr Bowden and was the first to fit under a kitchen sink with two cylinders that allowed for continuous softening. It solves the problem of limescale build-up for hard water areas.
Harvey sells thousands of water softeners every year to households across the UK and around the world. The company hopes to move from its Old Woking site to Fairoaks Garden Village, where it would create a further 150 new jobs in 2023.
The company, which turns over more than £30 million a year, posted record sales last year, with a quarter of that coming from exports, after recent multi-million-pound investments helped to increase factory output by 28%.
John Pearce, CEO of Made in Britain, said: “Everywhere you look at Harvey you see exemplary business practice. It’s a truly unique business that, after 40 years, isn’t defined by just surviving but rather by turning its long legacy into a strong strategic future. That’s often what we see in manufacturers across our other 50 product sectors.
“At Made in Britain, we champion this manufacturers mindset that Harvey demonstrates; that ability to cope with changing economic or political uncertainty far better than many other non-manufacturing sectors.”