Celebrating Successful Business at the Midlands Gateway Chamber Best in Business Awards 2015

 Award WinnersThe Midlands Gateway Chamber Best in Business Awards were held in The Glasson Country House Hotel & Golf Club, Athlone last Friday 10th June 2015.  Guests were warmly welcomed into the event with a prosecco reception, sponsored by the Glasson Country House Hotel & Golf Club which gave business people from across the Midlands an excellent Networking opportunity. Mr. Pat O’Neill, President, Midlands Gateway Chamber welcomed everyone to this, the fifth annual Midlands Gateway Chamber Best in Business Awards, by  celebrating the midlands and all it has to offer local businesses.  Pat went on to highlight that “Tonight is all about showcasing and celebrating the fantastic businesses we have right here in the Midlands, big and small, in the towns and villages throughout the four counties. We particularly wanted to have this year’s event out of the main town to prove that there is plenty of good business happening in rural areas.” The hugely successful annual event was a sell-out and Mr O’Neill continued by telling the business community “there was a great turnout for this event, we could have filled the room twice over.  All shapes and sizes of business are here tonight and our awards recognise and honour that hard work, dedication and perseverance to help promote excellence and innovation in our regional business community.” “There is much support for businesses available from the various agencies including the regional authorities, the IDA, Enterprise Ireland, the new Local Enterprise Offices, Community Development Agencies and let’s not forget your local Chambers of Commerce who are all here tonight.” The awards ceremony got under way with Mr. Ciarán Mullooly, RTE Midlands Correspondent, as Master of Ceremonies. Ciarán developed a wonderful rapport with the attendees through his local knowledge, quips, impromptu roving mic interviews and professionalism throughout the evening. The Awards were broken into sections and interspersed with the sumptuous meal provided by the hotel. We were treated to stunning footage of the Midlands produced by MakinMediaMobile and accompanied by Heart of Ireland, a song by Noel O’Farrell which was part of the professional AV display provided by Bernard Coyle on the night. The first of 3 initial awards presented was to the Best Midlands Multi-National Business Award Category winner Integra LifeSciences, TullamoreA delighted John O’Donovan, Plant Manager accepted the award, kindly sponsored by the IDA, from Mr. Paul Veale, Midlands Regional Business Development ManagerOther finalists in this category were Ericsson and NPD.  The next award of the evening was the first of two new awards, Best Midlands Professional Services Award, kindly sponsored by Midland Computers. Mr Frankie Simon, Co-Owner of Midland Computers presented the award to the winner, Mr John Brennan Managing Director ORS, Mullingar. The other finalists in this category were DG Ventures and The Business Clinic. The Final Award in this section was Best Midlands Employer Award, kindly sponsored by CPL, was presented by Garret Roche, director at CPL to delighted winner Jimmy McGee, MD of Athlone Extrusions, Athlone.  The other finalists in this category were Bloomfield House Hotel and IO Systems. The post dinner Awards were preceded by our Guest Speaker Mark Brennan, AIB. Mark heads up digital marketing & innovation at AIB and gave us food for thought when he spoke about branding and corporate reputation. After whetting our appetite with his talk, he has promised to return to Athlone in the future and give a longer session on this topic. The Awards began again with The best Midlands Emerging Business Award which was won by Emma-Rose Conroy, Eurostallions, Tullamore.  The award was presented by Ms. Joanne O’Connor, AIB Branch Manager Athlone.  The other finalists in this category were Corpway and TownApps. The next Award was the Best Midlands Retail Business Award, kindly sponsored by MakinMediaMobile, was presented to the winners The Grocery, Tyrellspass. The other finalists in this category were Galvin and Savoury Fare. Next up was the Best Midlands Corporate & Social Responsibility Award, newly introduced this year,  it was kindly sponsored by SuperValu & Centra.  Mary Croghan, presented the Award to a delighted Tony Devlin of Ericsson, Athlone.  The other finalists in this hotly contended category were Glenisk and Teleflex Medical. After a delicious dessert medley, Mary McGuigan, Group Commercial Manager of Celtic Media Group gave an uplifting talk echoing the words of Thomas Jefferson “The harder I work, the luckier I get”. The Business Person of the Year Award, was kindly sponsored by Celtic Media Group.  The winner was Stephen Grant, Grant Engineering, Birr. Unfortunately, Stephen was unable to make the evening but sent us a video clip and Peter Darcy accepted the Award on his behalf praising stephen’s energy and enthusiasm from Mr Tadhg Carey, Editor of the Westmeath & Offaly Independent papers.  The other worthy finalists were Mr. Bertie Dunne, Annebrook House Hotel and Mr John Condron, Condron Concrete. The Outstanding Business Award, kindly sponsored by RussellBrennanKeane (RBK) was next.  Joe Cleary, partner at RBK presented the award. Unfortunately winners Laois SawMillls, who notably increased turnover from €300,000 to €16 Million in recent years, largely through production innovation of green wood pellets in 2009, were unavailable so their award was accepted on their behalf by Tony McCormack, incoming president of the Midlands Gateway Chamber. The Midlands Ambassador of the Year Award was kindly sponsored by Enterprise Ireland, Dr Michael Brougham presented an elegant sculpture made and designed by Celtic Roots, who created all the awards. The winner, Mr Feargal O’Rourke, incoming Managing Partner of PWC Ireland said “he was proud to be chosen for the role and would do his upmost to promote business in the region over the 12 months”. Feargal describes himself as a “proud Athlone person” and acknowledged the “formative and best training” he received at RBK in Athlone. As head of Tax at PWC since 2011, he is a frequent commentator on tax issues; he was listed in the Irish Times 2014 as one of the “50 people who really run Ireland” and is part of a family with strong links with Athlone in business and politics going back 3 generations. Feargal gave a rousing speech highlighting the need for enterprise to have a “strong, stable pro-business government” and suggested we create an organisation to represent the diaspora of midlands business people nationally and internationally and harness that power for the benefit of our region. Carole Green, Operations, Midlands Gateway Chamber said ”We were delighted to welcome over 260 business people to celebrate and showcase the best the Midlands has to offer.  We want to thank all the finalists who put themselves forward for the Awards this year.  It’s not an easy thing to do as you are putting your business in the spotlight to be judged, so it just shows the confidence these businesses have in their products, staff and their business capabilities.  Each of them should be proud of their achievements to date, they are all winners in the Midlands and beyond and we wish them all the best of luck in the future.” MC Ciarán Mullooly wrapped up the formalities to thunderous applause and Pat O’Neill finished by thanking all who made the evening possible and encouraging all attendee’s to use the rest of the evening to network.
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