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The Biz

Geoff Baxter and wife Chris have won the first Trading Places award presented to the folk who beat hard times by starting a small business.

The pair, from Middlesborough, Teeside, make promotional goods from recycled plastic. The award is backed by The Sun, Business Link, the Prince's Trust and the Department for Work & Pensions.

The Biz Photo

Left Photo - Winners all ... Chris Baxter (left), GMTV star Fiona Phillips, The Sun Newpaper's Ian King and Geoff Baxter (right). Right Photo - Alan Johnson(MP) on left, Chris Baxter in centre and Geoff Baxter

The Biz - 2004

INSPIRATIONAL CLEVELAND MANUFACTURER NAMED UK’S TOP NEW BUSINESS STAR IN NATIONAL GOVERNMENT-BACKED AWARDS

An entrepreneurial couple from Middlesbrough who triumphed against personal adversity to start their own business manufacturing recycled promotional goods today scooped the first prize of £7,000 in the inaugural government-backed awards, Trading Places.

Beating off stiff competition from 11other National Finalists, Geoff and Chris Baxter - Proprietors of Baxter Promotions - were presented with the winner’s cheque and trophy by Alan Johnson, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, in front of an audience of 300 businessmen and women at London’s Café Royal.

The Trading Places Awards were launched in August 2004 by the Department for Work and Pensions New Deal programme along with Business Link and The Prince’s Trust – who between them have helped more than 200,000 fledgling entrepreneurs every year.

The Awards are designed to recognise and celebrate the efforts of unemployed people who have set up their own business and by doing so have successfully transformed their lives.

Chris and Geoff Baxter’s current success is the result of their determination to triumph over adversity.

Personal loss, illness and redundancy might deter most people, but for the Baxters these problems were simply the spur they needed to establish their own business – Baxter Promotions.

Their plan was to produce plastic promotional goods using recycled materials, combining Geoff’s experience in the plastics industry with their commitment to the environment and their determination to keep manufacturing in the UK.

Advice came from Jobcentre Plus, Walker Hall Associates and Business Link Tees Valley, who pointed the Baxters towards various training courses. The couple also joined a number of business support organisations that have offered invaluable assistance.

Grant funding through West Middlesbrough Neighbourhood Trust and Business Link helped with the purchase of stock and manufacturing equipment and Baxter Promotions was up and running.

A year later and Chris and Geoff offer a thriving one-stop service for promotional items and business gifts. They have ambitious plans for the future but are determined to maintain a close involvement with the community and the needs of the disadvantaged.

Mr Johnson said:
Trading Places is a national celebration of entrepreneurial spirit - those whose achievements are so much greater because of the barriers to success they have overcome. Baxter Promotions epitomises that entrepreneurial spirit. Geoff and Chris Baxter are an inspirational example of people who have overcome personal adversity and been brave enough to set up their own business from scratch and, in doing so, changed the direction of their life. The quality of all entries was outstanding and we congratulate Mr and Mrs Baxter on their success in scooping the top prize. We also hope recognition of their story will inspire other budding entrepreneurs in Cleveland to take the plunge and turn their own dreams into reality.”

Aspect Communications - 16 November 2004