A night to remember as Hertfordshire Business Awards 2019 winners revealed
- Credit: Melissa Page Photographer
Businesses across the county came together to celebrate another year of success at Archant’s annual Hertfordshire Business Awards.
Finalists donned their glad rags at the glamorous black tie event held at the beautiful Knebworth Barns, where businesses and entrepreneurs scooped much sought after accolades at the ceremony.
Proud business owners filled the marquee and enjoyed bubbly, a three-course meal, and a range of entertainment before host for the evening Stephen K Amos kicked off the awards which was organised by Archant - the publishers of the Comet, Herts Advertiser, Royston Crow and Welwyn Hatfield Times - in association with KPMG.
Charismatic comic writer and star of his own BBC Two sketch and stand-up show, Mr Amos, got the audience involved and spurred on bursts of laughter as he announced the winners of each of the 16 categories.
Winner of the Social Enterprise of the Year award - sponsored by Knebworth House - was the Hertfordshire Independent Living Service.
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The service started out by providing meals on wheels to elderly across the county, with just one site based in Letchworth.
By 2013 the business had expanded to further afield, and to providing more than meals, and has a contract with Hertfordshire County Council.
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The award for Commercial Business in the Community - sponsored by CS Recycling - was snapped up by Loudbird PR and Communications based in St Albans.
The company, led by Sophie Banks and Angie Cronin, provides PR for St Albans community projects and businesses, such as Pub in the Park and St Albans Film Festival.
On winning, a stunned Sophie said: "It's absolutely amazing. It feels so good!
"We've been going for 10 years and we've never won an award before. We've never put ourselves forward for an award. It feels incredible."
Angie added: "It's amazing, so exciting."
The Loudbird partners would encourage others to submit applications to the Herts Business Awards next year.
"I would say to anyone to enter the awards," said Sophie.
"It's really easy. It's a simple, straightforward process and you could win!"
Taking home the Supporting Young People Award, sponsored by CAE Technology Services, was Stevenage-based Sporting Futures Training UK Ltd.
The team running programmes consists of dedicated and experienced PE teachers, subject leaders and learning assessors offering training and sports apprenticeships to aspiring sports teachers.
Care home company Signature Senior Lifestyle won the award for Employer of the Year, sponsored by recruitment agency Tate.
The award-winning care provider prides itself on giving purpose-built assisted living in luxurious home settings.
The Customer Service Award - sponsored by Cala Homes - went to Letchworth-based Autoglym.
The car care product provider also bagged the Innovation Award - sponsored by St Albans-based GovGrant - which was presented to them immediately after.
The Business Person of the Year Award was given to Synergi Search & Select's Chix Shah.
Sponsored by London Stansted Airport, the Business Growth Award was won by St Albans-based Glencar Construction.
The company, which was established in 2016, prides itself on delivering quality and service through beneficial partnerships with customers and suppliers.
The award for Family Business of the Year went to Potters Bar's Multimessage Systems Ltd.
It was a special night for chairman Tom Cunnane and son Rob Cunnane, Multimessage's managing director now leading the company into a new era.
The telecoms and data repair specialist, based on the Cranborne Road Industrial Estate, was formed in 1989, and recently celebrated its 30th birthday.
On winning the Herts Business Award 2019 accolade, Tom Cunnane said: "It's fantastic. I am so proud.
"My son has taken over the business from me now and it's second generation, and it is developing and progressing."
Rob added: "The business has been going 30 years and obviously my dad started it, and me and my sister are now trying to progress it on to new generation technology.
"There's always bumps in the road and new challenges, but we are facing it head on.
"We are trying to develop into new technology and are keen to push the business forward in that direction."
The awards entry process was "painless", according to company founder Tom Cunnane.
Rob added: "From our perspective, it's been a great experience and something we will continue to do as the years continue and the business progresses and goes forward."
Posting on LinkedIn the morning after the awards, he wrote: "Very proud to win the award last night. It was a great evening and a testament to all the hard work everyone puts in as part of the business.
"The judges paid tribute to the 'family' feel to the company and also our ability to continually adapt to the market we operate in, tackling the threats of change in technology and our ability to move the business strategically to capture new business and continually seek new opportunities.
"The judges really got a feel for what we do when showed around our facility, could see our attention to detail and the strides we are making in repairing next generation technology."
Biodegradeable toothbrush manufacturers @BambuuBrush was a worthy winner of the New Business of the Year, sponsored by Hertfordshire Life magazine.
After setting up last year, the business has gone from strength to strength, selling a million toothbrushes in its first year.
Harnessing the power of social media, Hitchin couple Tommie Eaton and Rebecca Dudbridge hope people will ditch plastic toothbrushes for their environmentally-friendly bamboo ones.
Founder Tommie said: "We are an eco-friendly company with one simple product for one simple change, which is a bamboo toothbrush.
"We are using the power of social media in a positive way to create change and educate and inspire people around the world, so swap away from plastic to an @BambuuBrush."
On winning the newcomers' award, Rebecca said: "It's amazing. It's incredible to be around so many inspirational other businesses."
"It's unbelievable being a part of such a great event," added Tommie.
"We understand how hard it is to set up your own business, the ups and downs and roundabouts of starting your own business, so we are very privileged to have been nominated and shortlisted.
"It is pretty incredible out of the whole of Hertfordshire that we are the best newcomer of the year."
Having already achieved their initial "crazy" one million by 2020 target, they are now looking to have sold 21 million toothbrushes by the end of 2020, and for every Olympian and Paralympian at next year's Olympic Games in Tokyo to swap to an @BambuuBrush.
St Albans-based Redstone Search Group took home the award for Small Business of the Year - sponsored by Pinehill Hospital.
Redstone director Jordan Lewis said: "We were not expecting it. We almost didn't enter because we thought there was no point in entering.
"But when we got the call to say we were finalists, we were over the moon.
"And then to actually win the award, we were completely speechless."
The private banking and global commodities headhunters are based in Tyttenhanger House, a beautiful Grade I-listed country mansion in the Hertfordshire countryside between Colney Heath and London Colney.
Jordan described the entry process "as really good fun" and would encourage other businesses to enter the awards next year - provided they are not competition for Redstone.
"It was very interesting talking about your business, all your accolades, all the exciting things you have done and saying it to a panel you know are going to judge you.
"It's very exciting to know all the stuff we have been working hard towards is being realised, and is actually quite successful."
Medium Business of the Year, sponsored by Streets Process Colour Printers, was won by Vetsure, a pet insurance business.
Managing director Ashley Gray said: "It was a big surprise to win, a pleasant surprise.
"The team were absolutely elated, so I am overjoyed."
It's the second successive year that the Hatfield-based business has bagged an award after last year scooping The Innovation Award.
The Medium Business of the Year was open to businesses with a turnover of £2million to £15million.
"It's incredible that we were even in the Medium Business category," said the Vetsure founder.
"We've grown over the last few years, and been a part of this awards ceremony for a few years, but to get this award this year is fantastic."
He loves the county's leading business awards.
"It's lovely to meet up with other business owners and other business participants across Hertfordshire.
"It's a really humble but joyous event. I really love it. It has a great community spirit."
He added: "It's been fantastic for our team. To spend time away from the business and work towards the application has made people realise what they have achieved throughout the year.
"It really brings great joy to the team when they celebrate successes together like they have been able to tonight."
The award for Large Business of the Year - sponsored by Barclays - was taken home by Watford-based GAMA Healthcare.
International Business of the Year - sponsored by Taylor Walton LLP - was won by Ware-based security systems company, Silent Sentinel.
The company designs, manufactures, and supplies advanced market-leading surveillance and security systems targeted at the Homeland Security market.
The Hertfordshire Business Awards' judges selected Hatfield-based Potential Kids Ltd for its Judges' Award, sponsored by Archant.
Potential Kids was also a finalist in the Supporting Young People award, and judges had no hesitation in handing their trophy to the voluntary non-profit organisation aiming to help neurodiverse young people (autism, ADHD and related conditions), their siblings and families by providing social/activity groups.
Founder Angela Gaughan and colleague Susanna Mateu were delighted Potential Kids was recognised on the night and grabbed the chance on stage to raise awareness of what they do.
Speaking afterwards, Angela said: "We're very surprised. We're over the moon. We didn't expect to win anything.
"We're a relatively new charity. We know the work that we do is good work, and it helps a lot of people, but we didn't expect to win a business award. It's phenomenal."
She added: "It's about raising awareness. That's the key thing for us tonight. We will be able to have more of a platform to spread the word and raise awareness across the county.
"Even tonight we've had people coming up to us and saying 'I've got an autistic son, I've got an autistic daughter' and 'where are you, want do you do'.
"So we will be able to reach many more people."
Susanna added: "That's people we wouldn't have reached otherwise.
"So to be up there [on stage] and have those three minutes of microphone time was vital."
Picking up its second award of the night was Glencar Construction, which took home the coveted Company of the Year award, sponsored by KPMG UK.
The night also raised thousands for this year's chosen charity, Peace Hospice Care in Watford.
Congratulations to all our winners and finalists!