IN THE business world the going has certainly been tough. And that made this year’s Cheshire Business Awards even more special.
Companies across Cheshire have shown a real fighting spirit in the tough economic climate and their enterprise and vision was celebrated at the awards presentation evening.
Companies from the smallest start-ups to some of the county’s biggest employers gathered with dignitaries, politicians and celebrities for the sixth annual awards ceremony at Chester’s Queen Hotel.
The awards are judged in nine categories: Business Start-Up, Small Business Medium Business, Large Business, Employer of the Year, Community Award, Young Business Person, Woman in Business and Business Person of the Year.
Carl Wood, Publishing Director for Trinity Mirror Cheshire said: “This year not only has there been a huge increase in the number of entries but the quality and level of success of those entries has also hit new heights.
“We have seen numerous examples of new businesses being created in towns and villages right across Cheshire and seen previous ‘small business’ entrants now moving into the ‘medium business’ category.
“All of which is fantastic and despite the obvious economic challenges businesses have faced.”
The event was hosted by ITN and Granada news presenter Lucy Meacock who paid tribute to the county’s business community.
“It’s been a strange year but there is a real sense of optimism coming through,” she said.
“The irony is that some businesses are doing better than ever at the moment. Some company directors have admitted to me that they’re sometimes embarrassed to say how successful they are because no-one likes bragging when others are feeling the pinch.
“But we need to celebrate that success. That success is what will lead us out of this recession.
“That’s what will create the jobs of the future and give young people some of the same opportunities that we have had.”
The sponsors for this year’s event were ScottishPower, Cheshire West and Chester Council, Sellafield Ltd, Bank of America, Cheshire and Warrington Economic Alliance and Royal Mail.
Entertainment at the awards ceremony was provided by Chester-based band The Funky Doctors.
Business Person of the Year
HIGH flying internet mogul Simon Nixon was named Business Person of the Year at the sixth annual Trinity Mirror Cheshire Business Awards.
The founder of the price comparison website moneysupermarket.com has recently launched two new ventures – holiday and property websites simonseeks.com and simonescapes.com.
Mr Nixon was presented with the presitigious trophy by Greg Reed from Bank of America, sponsors of the award.
He expressed his delight at winning the award which he said was the first accolade he had received in his home county of Cheshire.
When asked by event host Lucy Meacock what motivated him in business, he replied: “Any entrepreneur in the room will tell you that we are driven by a fear of failure – and we could never work for anyone else!”
Small Business of the Year award
THIS year’s Small Business of the Year award, sponsored by Royal Mail, was won by Global Air Training (GAT) of Tattenhall.
GAT is a specialist aviation training company which provides training, development and consultancy services in aviation and healthcare for organisations across the world. The business was founded in 1997 by Dianne Worby who recognised a need in the aviation industry for a company that could offer a one-stop training solution to fulfil all the non-technical training requirements of aircraft operators.
Also nominated were Vale Plumbing Supplies of Northwich and Sparkling Strawberry of Tarporley.
Medium Business of the Year
WINNER of the Medium Business of the Year award was Cheshire Ice Cream Farm which has established itself as one of most popular tourist attractions in Cheshire since it started 23 years ago.
The farm supplies more than 900 wholesale customers throughout the North West and last year secured a contract with a national distributor to supply almost every hotel chain in the country.
The farm itself is open to the public and attracts more than 250,000 visitors a year. Earlier this year it underwent a facelift and now offers an indoor play facility alongside its other attractions.
Also nominated were BiG Storage, Cathedra Stone of Middlewich, and UK Container Maintenance Ltd of Northwich.
Young Business Person of the Year
THERE was double delight for Gary Smith and Richard Alexander who were joint winners of the Young Business Person of the Year category, sponsored by ScottishPower.
The business partners, who were friends from their teens, run Prism, a successful million pound plus turnover business which they started in a back bedroom with just £600 and a secondhand computer that was retrieved from a skip.
They now provide IT solutions to blue chip organisations and SMEs from their premises in Congleton. The company prides itself on being an IT solutions provider with a difference, allowing businesses to outsource all their IT requirements to one specialist provider offering systems, communications and support tailored to their needs.
Also nominated were Christopher Naylor of Peckforton castle and Alan North of Bank of America.
Large Business of the Year
THE Large Business of the Year award, sponsored by Cheshire and Warrington Economic Alliance, was won by Boughey Distribution of Nantwich.
One of the country’s leading specialist warehousing and distribution firms, Boughey Distribution makes deliveries every day to the full range of supermarket, wholesale and speciality chains, including some of Britain’s biggest blue chip food brands and retailers, across the country.
The company has a 55-acre purpose-built facility at Wardle which is home to its own fleet of vehicles. It has a sister site at Deeside.
Also nominated was Chester-based identity management company GB Group.
Employer of the Year
CHESS Telecom of Alderley Edge picked up the trophy in the Employer of the Year section, sponsored by Cheshire West and Chester Council.
Chess works in a fast moving and dynamic atmosphere which creates new and exciting opportunities for its staff.
The company believes looking after its staff to be of prime importance and its offices adhere to the principles of Feng Shui. Benefits for staff include childcare vouchers, pensions, free health care, flu jabs, gym membership, a bike-to-work scheme and life insurance.
Also nominated were Prism of Congleton and Weaver Vale Housing Trust.
WINNER of the Start-Up category was DTM Legal, of Archway House, Chester, a new, dynamic law firm which provides commercial legal advice to SMEs and to larger companies.
Less than a year after setting up, the company has increased its staff from 19 to 37 and its intention is to recruit more staff and expand into more niche commercial legal disciplines.
Also nominated were Asphalt Re-lay of Crewe and Vale Plumbing Supplies of Northwich.
Women in Business
CLAIRE Braithwaite of LoveLula.com based on the Barrowmore Enterprise Estate at Great Barrow, scooped this year’s Women in Business award.
Claire launched the online store in 2006. It specialises in organic and natural beauty products.
The website now stocks more than 1,200 products by more than 70 beauty and wellbeing brands and attracts an average of a million hits each week.
Claire, an Oxford graduate, is a trained naturopath and qualified chartered accountant.
Also nominated were Dianne Worby of Global Air Training and Jan Williams of Frodsham Laser Clinic.
THE Community Award, sponsored by Sellafield Ltd, was won by Team Bank of America at Bank of America Europe Card Services which has always recognised the importance of giving back to the community in addition to enriching the lives of staff members.
Team Bank of America is the company’s primary volunteer organisation for staff who work together to enhance the lives of teammates, customers and the community.
The company gives all its staff the chance to take four hours every month during business hours to take part in volunteering activities. Over the past year more than 350 staff have notched up more than 5,500 hours spent on various voluntary activities.
Also nominated were Weaver Vale Housing Trust and Robert Smith & Son of Crewe.