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‘Look after the staff and they will look after the customers’ says Grantham Journal Business Awards' Employer of the Year

A model railway company was commended for its “family ethos” towards employees.

Rocket Railways, located at the Old Maltings off Springfield Road in Grantham, won Employer of the Year at the Grantham Journal Business Awards earlier this year.

On winning the award, managing director Jason Thickpenny explained that he wanted his employees to feel valued and offered flexibility to them during the difficult circumstances imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The team at Rocket Railways. (42800579)
The team at Rocket Railways. (42800579)

Opening in October 2019, Rocket Railways is still a relatively new business, and last year added Grantham’s first escape room on the premises, situated next door to the model railway shop.

The Employer of the Year category was judged by Tom Price and Shaun Whiting, of Price Whiting Hodgson Financial Planning Ltd. They praised Rocket Railway’s support for their employees, particuarly during the global pandemic.

They said: “For a small, new business to inspire, motivate and support employees to such an extent that a ‘family’ ethos is adopted even through Covid was so impressive.”

Jason Thickpenny and Aimee Garner. (20317810)
Jason Thickpenny and Aimee Garner. (20317810)

Jason went into more detail on the challenges presented by the past year and how it felt to win the award, as well as his plans going forward for the business.

How did it feel to win the award after a tough year?

It’s terrific to win this award. Last year we were runner-up as best newcomer, so to be awarded this has demonstrated how quickly and how much we have grown.

Why do you think the business stood out to the judges?

I’m not sure that a model railway business would stick out to the judges, but I think it was the ethic we have at Rocket Railways which is absolutely staff before customers. Look after the staff and they will look after the customers.

In a weird year, its been about being flexible and ensuring they are looked after. I have also had to get more hands on so we could operate different work patterns. I think that we have demonstrated people before numbers and this is what has stood out.

Tell us a bit about what you do as a business?

We are a provider of new and used parts for your model railway. We have a retail store, an exhibition centre and a workshop where we will service your prize locomotive.

How have you adapted since Covid?

Our lovely shop has turned into a distribution warehouse. It’s horrible not having customers in, but we have doubled down on mail order, in addition running different work patterns and allowing some to work from home.

What are your plans for the coming year?

A model railway exhibition (themodelrailwayshow.co.uk), looking for a new retail shop and [we are] about to launch rocketrailways.au for Australia

How have your staff/team risen to the challenges?

They have understood we have had to make hard decisions, but they have adapted really well and have been incredible.

Find out more about Rocket Railways at www.rocketrailways.co.uk

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