Buncefield’s big bang was the start of brand new dimension for FFEI

From left to right: Professor Isobel Pollock presenting the award to FFEI's Phil Ellis, John Mortimer, Julian Payne, Steve Russell with compere Michael Portillo
From left to right: Professor Isobel Pollock presenting the award to FFEI's Phil Ellis, John Mortimer, Julian Payne, Steve Russell with compere Michael Portillo

A Maylands company devastated by the Buncefield oil depot disaster in 2006 has continued its remarkable growth story.

Global developer of award-winning digital imaging solutions, FFEI Ltd, has scooped the top accolade for small businesses at manufacturing excellence awards.

The company based in Boundary Way, Hemel Hempstead, was then a division of Fujifilm which has a disaster recovery plan second to none. The firm was up and running soon after the explosion.

FFEI was created after a management buy-out lead by MD Andy Cook. It has since diversified into equipment that scans slides to detect cancer.

Philippa Oldham, head of manufacturing at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers and one of the Manufacturing Excellence judges, said: “FFEI’s entire plant was destroyed as a result of the Buncefield Oil Depot Disaster, but within days the company was able to fulfil existing and new orders.

“Since this emergence from the disaster, FFEI has continued to grow and the judges were hugely impressed by novel schemes the company runs, such as the offer of extended warranties in exchange for feedback.

“These are in addition to the company’s excellent factory layout and the continued improvement in financial performance.”

Mr Cook, who also chairs the Maylands Partnership of firms on the huge business estate, said: “Building on the success of last year’s Queens Award, this Manufacturing Excellence Award underlines the continued growth across the business, which is epitomised by the teamwork, inclusion and continuous improvement I see every day.

“To be benchmarked with the very best businesses in the UK manufacturing sector is a credit to our people and their efforts.”