Rory Stewart has visited the ‘inspirational’ Ast Signs on Gilwilly Industrial Estate in Penrith, which the local MP recently nominated as Penrith and The Border’s Responsible Business Champion 2016. He met with Managing Director Mark Aston, and was given a guided tour of the company’s state-of-the-art premises, meeting and chatting with staff and seeing the wide array of corporate branding that the company undertakes.

Rory nominated the group because of its commitment to apprenticeships and to environmental standards, and for its visionary approach to employing young people from the area.

The nomination has been endorsed by the All Party Parliamentary Corporate ResponsibilityGroup (APCRG) which set up the Responsible Business Champions Scheme for MPs in 2015.
A Parliamentary judging panel considers all MPs’ nominations against national criteria announced each year by the APCRG and selects one company as the overall APCRG National Responsible Business Champion. The overall winner this year will be announced at a reception in Parliament on 13 July 2016.  In choosing the National Responsible Business Champion 2016, the judging panel are looking for companies which support the local community, invest in healthy workplaces, offer apprenticeships and training to all age groups, promote equality and diversity in the workplace and monitor suppliers’ actions on these issues.

Rory said: “Ast Signs is an inspirational business, and it is really does show what the future of businesses in Penrith and The Border can be. Mark and his staff have managed to create a workplace that is attractive to young people in Penrith and The Border, and is also architecturally stunning and modern. With more businesses like this, which see an investment in people as important as an investment in technology or equipment, we really can look to a future where young Cumbrians can be finding jobs in some of the most cutting edge industries, right here in our county. I am pleased that I was able to nominate Ast Signs for this award, and look forward to seeing the business continue to go from strength to strength.

Ast Signs MD Mark Aston said: “We were delighted to be nominated by Rory, and really enjoyed showing him around our premises. We do maintain a strong set of core values based on customer service, attention to detail and investment in new technology. In terms of technology, we are at the cutting edge. We invest heavily in capital equipment throughout our graphic design, manufacturing and fitting operations and very little of our equipment is more than three years old. Our people are critical to our success; we have a highly experienced team and we are always planning for opportunities to learn and train, which is why we see apprenticeships as so important.”

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