The winners of the annual Grampian Awards for Business Enterprise were unveiled last night (Thursday 30 June 2011) at the Mercure Ardoe House Hotel in Aberdeen. The event, now in its 12th year, honours fledgling businesses that are already making their mark, innovative companies that are leading the way in their sector, and inspiring entrepreneurs who are the driving force behind the region’s biggest success stories. The top honour of the evening – Entrepreneur of the Year – was won by Roy MacGregor, executive chairman of Global Energy Group. The award was made in recognition of the entrepreneurial spirit he has shown throughout his lifetime, growing a recruitment business and then entering the oil and gas sector to create one of Scotland’s most profitable companies of recent times.
The Grampian Awards for Business Enterprise are organised by Enterprise North East Trust and sponsored by The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and Aberdeen City Council and Aberdeenshire Council. The keynote speaker at the sell-out dinner was adventurer Jamie Andrew who, despite losing both his hands and feet in a horrific mountaineering accident in the French Alps in 1999, continues to take on the most gruelling of physical challenges. Jamie’s inspiring story of his accomplishments in the face of such adversity captivated the audience of business men and women.
The category winners in the Grampian Awards for Business Enterprise 2011 were:
• Promising New Business Award: Aberdeen independent engineering consultancy, Cognity
• Business Success (Under 3 Years): Garden centre and lifestyle store The Mains of Drum, Drumoak
• Business Success (Over 3 Years): Survival Craft Inspectorate, Aberdeen, which services and supplies life-saving and safety equipment to the marine and offshore sector
• The Wood Group Award for Innovation: Turriff-based firm Keenan Recycling
• The Alick Buchanan Smith Spirit of Enterprise Award: Children’s charity Befriend A Child, Aberdeen
• Emerging Entrepreneur: Andy Porter of North-east pharmacy chain A&L Porter Ltd
• Entrepreneurial Supporter: Duncan Skinner of Wood Group PSN, who was the focal point for the successful relaunch of Glencraft
• Employer of the Year: Aberdeen consultancy The Urquhart Partnership
• Entrepreneur of the Year: Roy MacGregor, executive chairman Global Energy Group
Gary McEwan, chief executive of Enterprise North East Trust says, “The quality of all entrants in this year’s awards was outstanding, and those who made it to the final were truly exceptional. It has become something of a cliché, but the panel did have an extremely difficult challenge in selecting a winner in each category when all the finalists were so worthy of recognition. Hearing first hand the stories of so many innovative and forward-thinking businesses and how they have risen to the challenges presented by the economic downturn has been inspiring.
“The awards come on the back of very encouraging figures which show that the appetite for new business start-ups in the North-east remains high, with 1,000 new businesses being established last year in Aberdeen City and Shire. Over 220 start-up workshops were delivered, while more than 110 growing business workshops delivered, reaching over 1,177 people in Aberdeen City and Shire. More and more people are engaging with the Business Gateway services supporting business creation and development, and the figures also suggest that those who are going through the process are getting value from the advice provided, as they are following through to get their businesses off the ground.”
Mike Fergusson, Director Commercial Banking Aberdeen & Aberdeenshire of RBS says, “All the finalists and winners should be congratulated for the way in which they are taking their businesses forward and ensuring that the north east continues to be a driving force for innovation and enterprise. The entrants all share a passion and determination to make their business succeed and stand out from the crowd. The job of the panel in selecting winners was made so hard because of the high standard of entries, but it has been a pleasure to be part of the Grampian Awards for Business Enterprise.”
Rae Younger of Aberdeen engineering consultancy Cognity set up the firm just over a year ago and in its first year of business it has secured almost £1 million worth of projects. Rae, who has pioneered a number of game changing inventions in the oil and gas industry, has developed something of a niche market by combining specialist mechanical design, advanced analysis, structural design and draughting services. Cognity scooped the award for most promising new business. He was praised for taking a leap of faith based on his understanding on the market and contacts, and for the direction he has shown in taking the business forward.
Winner of business success under three years is The Mains of Drum - an independent family-run business which has created a purpose-built garden centre and shopping destination at Drumoak. The Forbes family, which had little or no retail experience before launching the venture, took six long years to negotiate a rigorous and demanding planning process. But their determination paid off and the first 24 months of trading has far exceeded initial expectations. Judges were impressed with the strong family values of the company and their commitment to staff, their understanding of products and client base, and their future plans for diversification.
Business success over three years winners Survival Craft Inspectorate was set up in 1991 by Angus Campbell and Keith Hunt after they were tasked in their previous employment of carrying out an audit of an offshore operator’s life-saving equipment. Concerned by what they discovered during the process, they decided to go it alone and establish a business focused on raising and maintaining standards. Over the past 20 years they have been supplying, servicing and maintaining life-saving and safety equipment to ensure that merchant shipping and offshore oil and gas operators meet their statutory obligations. They were recognised for their solid, dependable growth and ability to adapt to a changing market place. Highly commended in the category is AMC Engineering from Portlethen.
The Wood Group Award for Innovation was presented to Keenan Recycling. The firm was set up when company director Grant Keenan saw a gap in the market for organic recycling, and has grown to operate out of a £3.2 million facility at New Deer. The plant recycles garden waste from local authorities for use as chemical-free compost for farming and gardening, while food waste from businesses across Scotland is processed for use as a soil improver. The judging panel felt Keenan was a business founded on innovation, with a fearless team that was prepared to use their innovative thinking to solve problems.
Scotland’s oldest befriending charity – Befriend A Child – picked up the Alick Buchanan Smith Spirit of Enterprise Award. The charity made a bold move by recruiting fund-raising and marketing staff when other third sector organisations were cutting back. The gamble paid off, and in the past year Befriend A Child has supported a record number of children and been able to access new pockets of funding by carrying out a detailed case review which showed that many young people had backgrounds of substance misuse. The additional funding has allowed the charity to work outside of Aberdeen city for the first time. They were praised for identifying and responding to the differing needs of vulnerable children in rural areas, and the way in which it has developed strategies for closer links with the business community.
Emerging entrepreneur of the year is Andy Porter of A&L Porter, who has gone from employee to owner of four north east pharmacies in the space of four years. He was determined to succeed in spite of several obstacles, and has chalked up considerable achievements including expansion, recruitment of key staff, securing additional finance and identification of methods to improve margins. Judges felt he showed ‘bravery and guts’ and was a worthy winner of the award in the face of stiff competition. Gregor Mackintosh, who has created the Mackintosh of Glendaveny brand of cold pressed rapeseed oils on the family farm in Buchan, was highly commended in the category.
Duncan Skinner of Wood Group PSN was named entrepreneurial supporter of the year. He was the focal point behind the successful relaunch of Glencraft after it closed its doors in 2009 following 160 years of trading. All staff – the majority of whom were disabled – were made redundant. Duncan met with liquidators and created a new business plan for Glencraft and engaged with a wide range of agencies to get the funding, social and political will in place to get the venture up and running once more. It was recognised that, without his support, Glencraft would have closed down with little future prospects of employment or training for staff.
Independently owned consultancy business The Urquhart Partnership won the Employer of the Year Award. The firm credits its success over the past 16 years to its staff and their hard work, perseverance and team spirit. The judges were impressed by the very clear evidence of staff who said they felt that they were a great firm to work for, and also acknowledged the high staff retention rate, and appealing and flexible benefits package.
Roy MacGregor, executive chairman of Global Energy Group, was Entrepreneur of the Year. He was chosen not only for his business acumen in growing the GE family, but also for his unstoppable drive for making people better. He started his business career at a young age working in the family retail empire, and saw an opportunity to provide supply chain and labour solutions to the oil and gas companies working out of the fabrication yards in the north. Being close to the energy sector, he recognised the potential of the rig repair and maintenance sector, and since that time has grown the GE Group to 23 trading companies. Developing people remains at the heart of what he does: Roy has set up a bespoke leadership programme for operational directors and senior management within the group, and has instigated the Global Training Academy to fast track Modern Apprentices to qualify in welding and pipefitting.
For further information about the Grampian Awards for Business Enterprise visit www.grampianawards.com.Back to all blogs