THE countdown for companies to enter the North East’s biggest and best business awards has begun.
THERE are only 10 working days left for firms to show what makes them stand out from the competition and enter the running to win one of more than 30 titles up for grabs in the nebusiness awards 2009.
The awards, organised by The Journal and Evening Gazette in association with Business Link, are a brilliant way for companies to shout about their business and celebrate their success.
The deadline for entries for the awards is at 5pm on January 15 and the online entry forms make it easier than ever to be in with a chance of winning this year.
The 2009 winners will toast their successes at a black-tie award presentation dinner at Hardwick Hall near Sedgefield at the end of April in one of the biggest dates in the region’s business calendar.
More than 800 members of the business community, stretching from Berwick in the North, Cumbria to the West and Teesside to the south of the region, will be at the event.
The publicity associated with winning – or even being shortlisted – for an nebusiness award is widely considered to be a fantastic opportunity for boosting a business’ profile, both among its peers and its customers.
Staff morale also receives a shot in the arm through association with their company’s widely-reported success and the pride and recognition they have contributed towards it.
More than 2,000 business people will toast their achievements at the three dinners marking the sub-regional heats, which were introduced in 2001, and the final black tie event.
In addition to the prestigious final, the three sub-regional dinners will also be marked with newspaper and online reporting, presenting firms with yet another opportunity to tell the North East what they are doing right.
With 13 categories ranging from best newcomer and small business through to the prestigious title of North East Company of the Year, there truly is something for everyone to enter.
The awards have attracted around 1,700 entries since 2001 and more than 100 of the region’s top business people have stepped up to the plate to act as judges, ensuring the right companies receive the recognition they deserve.
The big names sponsoring the different categories – which this year include One North East, UK Trade & Investment and Arts Council England, North East – are an endorsement of the awards’ importance.
So today we take a look at all this year’s categories so you can decide your best chance of winning.
COMPANY OF THE YEAR – sponsored by Press Ahead, Deloitte, KPMG and One North East.
The cream of the awards crop, the Company of the Year Award rewards outstanding stars of the North East business community. Those collecting the coveted title in the nebusiness awards’ three sub-regional finals – Tees Valley, Durham and Wearside and Tyneside and Northumberland – then battle it out to win the top title of North East Company of the Year.
Billingham company Tracerco became the region’s top performer at the 2008 awards after first triumphing at the Tees Valley event. Tracerco, also won an Innovation Award in the Queen’s Awards for Enterprise 2009.
Runners-up at the regional final were Walker Filtration, Washington, and Merit Merrell Technology, Wallsend.
CORPORATE RESPONSIBILITY AND ENVIRONMENT AWARD – sponsored by Durham County Cricket Club, eaga plc, NEPIC and Northeast Biofuels and Groundwork North East.
Cleaner, greener ways of doing business continue to rocket up the corporate agenda. And increasingly companies are looking to cement links with the local community.
Coffin-maker JC Atkinson of Washington won the top prize last year after taking the Durham and Wearside title. In the past 10 years, the firm has examined every aspect of its work to improve its impact on the environment.
Middlesbrough-based furniture store chain Barker and Stonehouse took the 2008 Tees Valley Award and International Paint of Gateshead was the Tyneside and Northumberland winner.
EMPLOYER OF THE YEAR AWARD – sponsored by Public Health North East.
Judges are also seeking employer excellence at the nebusiness awards 2009. Employer Of The Year aims to recognise, encourage and reward organisations which make a significant contribution to the health and well-being of their workforce.
The award will be made to an organisation that can demonstrate it has shown a commitment to the health and well-being of their staff through HR policies, training and skills, personal development and the working environment.
Cummins – which this year celebrates its 90th anniversary – came out on top at the 2008 awards, after first triumphing at the Durham and Wearside heat. Future Pension Division, Newcastle, won the Tyneside and Northumberland title and NIFCO UK of Stockton won the Tees Valley title.
EXPORT AWARD – sponsored by UK Trade & Investment.
Export achievement is crucial to the future of our region. There are hopes that exporting is on the road to recovery in the region with an 8% rise in the value of exports between the second and third quarter of 2009 as export values return to 2007 levels.
Antifreeze maker Kilfrost of Haltwhistle in Northumberland took the Tyneside and Northumberland and regional titles after doubling turnover to £50m with sales around the world.
Hartlepool-based AMI Exchangers won the Tees Valley title and Wessington Cryogenics, Houghton-le- Spring was the Durham and Wearside champion.
INNOVATION AWARD – sponsored by County Durham Development Company, Newcastle Science City, OneDoor Network and Nomad Digital.
New ideas, research and development are all key ingredients to powering growth in the region’s economy. And from up-to-the-minute products to new services, the Innovation Award aims to reward originality.
At the 2008 awards Middlesbrough’s Xena Systems took the title – after first being named Tees Valley’s number one innovator. Judges singled out the firm after it developed the LoadSwift Hi-Rise building loading system – a system that can save up to 80% in building fit-out times.
Durham and Wearside winner was Anross of Consett and Tyneside and Northumberland winner was Elfab of North Shields
INTERNET AND ICT AWARD – sponsored by Pearsons.
A company whose use of internet and ICT brings about innovation, growth and development will win this award.
Taking the overall North East crown – after first triumphing in the Tyneside and Northumberland heat – was Bean Bag Bazaar, of Cramlington for its inventive and successful website enabling customers to make bespoke orders online and for its innovative manufacturing processes.
The Durham and Wearside title went to Unified Software of Houghton-le-Spring and the Tees Valley winner was Middlesbrough-based Ramsdens Financial.
LEARNING, TRAINING AND SKILLS AWARD – sponsored by University of Sunderland, Newcastle College, Teesside University and Train to Gain.
Having the right people with the right skills in the right place is essential, so making a welcome return to the 2009 nebusiness awards is the Learning, Training and Skills category.
The title aims to recognise, encourage and reward organisations which make a sufficient contribution to continuous training and education of their employees.
MANUFACTURING AWARD – sponsored by Sunderland City Council, Tyne & Wear City Region Employment Consortium, ABB and Port of Tyne.
Stockton’s Nifco UK proved to be the region’s manufacturing star at the 2008 nebusiness awards.
The plastics firm took the top title after first scoring success at the Tees Valley regional heat – which also saw it take the Tees Valley Employer of the Year crown.
The firm has the capacity to produce a diverse range of products in three main areas – industrial plastic fasteners for both automotive and electronic applications; functional interior trim products for the automotive industry and power train and under bonnet products.
The Durham and Wearside winner was Sotech, Peterlee, and the Tyneside and Northumberland winner was Kilfrost, Haltwhistle.
NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR AWARD – sponsored by NorthStar Equity Investors.
These awards aim to reward outstanding start-ups, which are already making a significant impact to the local economy and beyond.
Middlesbrough’s Global Transport Logistics won last year. The firm was founded by Gary Smith in 2006 after recognising a gap in the market for door-to-door supply chain management.
The Durham and Wearside winner was CDC Wealth Management of Sunderland and the Tyneside and Northumberland winner was Palringo of Cramlington.
NOT-FOR-PROFIT ORGANISATION OF THE YEAR AWARD – sponsored by Wipro
The regional and Tyneside and Northumberland winner of the former Public Sector Organisation of the Year for 2008 was Tyne and Wear Museums of Newcastle.
Taking the Tees Valley crown was Coast and Country Housing of Redcar with Developing Initiatives Supporting Communities, based in Spennymoor, the Durham and Wearside winner.
SERVICES AWARD – sponsored by Eastern Airways, Hay & Kilner Solicitors and Middlesbrough College.
Last year’s winner was Eldon Financial Planning, of Bishop Auckland which also took the Durham and Wearside title. Stockton’s Smile Spa won the Tees Valley prize and Tyneside’s Smiths Consulting of Newcastle the Tyneside and Northumberland title
SMALL BUSINESS AWARD – sponsored by Royal Mail.
This title celebrates those companies that form the heart of the region’s economy. This category looks at companies which may well grow into the corporate giants of the future.
Durham-based events company She’s Gott It took the top title.
Stockton engineering firm International Procurement took the Tees Valley prize and Easibathe, Dunston was the Tyneside and Northumberland winner.
BEST CREATIVE BUSINESS AWARD – sponsored by Arts Council England, North East.
The creative sector is a driving force of the North East economy. Worth £1.1bn and employing 35,000 people – everything from art and literature to fashion and festivals is helping drive the region forward and put the North East on the cultural map.
The Best Creative Business Award recognises the ever-increasing role the sector plays.
For 2008, Kitchenware Records of Newcastle clinched the nebusiness awards title after more than 25 years of championing music from the region and beyond with successful acts including Editors, Lighthouse Family and Prefab Sprout.
Runner up was the Fifiefofum gallery of Stocksfield, Northumberland.