We were in Belfast last week launching the Business Achievers Awards. On the panel we had Ulster finalists: Ricky, Nishi and Jacqueline. You can see from their profiles that they deserved to be finalists. Moderator for the morning session was David Elliott of the Belfast Telegraph.
David Elliott, Group Business Editor, Belfast Telegraph
David is the editor of the Belfast Telegraph’s business content, including the paper’s daily business pages, its weekly supplement, Business Telegraph, and its monthly magazine, Business Month.
Ricky Wilson: General Manager and Auctioneer, Wilsons Auctions
Ricky is one of four Wilson family members that currently work within the Wilsons Auctions Group. He has worked for the business for over 15 years and started from the bottom, working his way up through the company to his current role. The family-owned business was formed in 1936 by William J Wilson. Now directed by his son Ian Wilson, the company has grown to become the largest independent auction company in the UK or Ireland with 12 sites. Wilsons Auctions won the Ulster Family Run Business Award in the 2010 awards.
Nishi Ward, Director, Waste Systems Ltd
Nishi is director at Omagh-based company, Waste Systems Ltd. Waste Systems Ltd. design, manufacture and supply turnkey systems and standalone machinery for the waste separation and recycling industries. Nishi established the company in 2010 because he realised the opportunities in the waste recycling market globally and the lack of technology available to solve existing problems in that industry. Waste Systems Ltd won the Ulster Innovation & Emerging Technology Award in the 2011 awards.
Jacqueline McGonnigle, owner WhatsOnNI.com
Whatsonni was created by Jacqueline McGonigle, a mid-ulster mother of three in 2009. The website went live in June 2009 and has gone from strength-to-strength. It was created to be a free web-based platform for event organisers to promote their events free of charge – thereby creating a current, searchable events list for all types and sizes of events across Northern Ireland. Jacqueline is an ambassador for Ulster Bank’s/Small business Can’s Business Women Can initiative.
Duiring the panel discussion focusing on Marketing, the panel told us how the awards has positively impacted on their business, including helping in the winning of substantial contracts. The awards were used as a springboard for other awards (which they also won). They also gave examples of how the awards were used as a key part of their overall marketing mix assisting with the export effort, branding, media approach and sales techniques.
All agreed on the benefits and all are entering again this year.
Business Achievers Awards
Ulster bank outline a new line up of awards for this year to make them more appealing to a wider SME audience. For the past two years, over a third of all entries to the Ulster Bank Business Achievers Awards were submitted in the ‘Best Business Start Up’ category making it the most popular category in the competition. It has has added new categories to this year’s awards to celebrate the growing diversity and strength of the Irish Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) sector. This includes a Woman Led Business category, an Agri-Business category and a separate Food & Drink category. The bank has also added an established SME category to attract and acknowledge the bedrock companies.
Over the years a number of high-profile Irish companies have passed through the competition including; PM Group, Glenisk and Vistamed. Last year’s overall winner was Down-based medical devices company, TG Eakin.
An Ulster Bank representative summed up: “A survey we conducted last year told us that 86% of companies entering awards do so for the PR and profile it can bring. This year we have enhanced the programme with a new ‘Business Achievers Roadshow’ where companies benefit from workshops, seminars, and networking and we are extending out Public Relations support to companies who may not make the National Final in May. The Irish SME sector is a vital, varied and vibrant place and everyday there are successes and positive stories that emanate from it. We want to support that and tell their stories to a national audience,”.
The 2012 Ulster Bank Business Achiever will receive a comprehensive prize package including a €50,000 publishing bursary with the Irish Independent, business mentoring from Enterprise Ireland, a full service communications workshop, as well as much positive national and regional PR coverage.