From all the award entries and area winners, eleven category winners were selected, and from these the FSB Small Business of the Year 2019 was selected as Cruise Loch Ness Ltd.

 

FSB Small Business of the Year 2019
Cruise Loch Ness Ltd

www.cruiselochness.com

Since 1968, Cruise Loch Ness has carried over two million passengers and now employs 18 staff. Ronald Mackenzie and his wife, Debi, run the business, which celebrated its 50th year in business last year. In 1968, Ronald’s father, Norman, launched the business with the support of his late wife, Effie, and although now retired, he still has a keen interest in the business. Ronald’s two brothers are dedicated crew and are incremental to the day-to-day running of the business, all working together as one team. Cruise Loch Ness, has two passenger vessels and three high-speed Ridged Inflatable Boats (RIBs). In 2018, a new custom  esigned catamaran ‘The Spirit of Loch Ness’ was launched with a £1.5m investment, increasing overall passenger capacity by 30 per cent, bringing the total up to 354 passengers across all boats at any one point. They educate and thrill passengers with a range of affordable boat rides, from leisurely to exhilarating. Passengers are treated to an animated, educational and unforgettable experience upon the world’s most famous body of water because the company knows it like the back of their hand.

 

FSB Chairman's Special Award Winner
Allegro Optical

www.allegrooptical.co.uk

An opticians with a difference. Allegro Optical provides professional eye-care locally and also provides bespoke optical services to musicians and performers worldwide.

With a unique range of prescription lens designs and a new approach to ophthalmic dispensing, the team specialises in providing individual optical solutions to professional and amateur performers. Working with The Royal Northern College of Music, The Halle Orchestra and Huddersfield Philharmonic, the team help student, professional and amateur musicians who struggle to focus on printed music and written notation due to a variety of eye conditions.

Attracting new clients locally, nationally and internationally, Allegro Optical is the first and only opticians to become registered BAPAM (British Association of Performing Arts Medicine) practitioners. Starting from very humble beginnings, helping friends and fellow performers, the business now attracts clients from all over the world.

Allegro Optical works with musicians from major international ensembles including The English National Ballet Philharmonic, and Dublin RTE Concert Orchestra. Opening their first ‘bricks and mortar’ practice in March 2017 the company now employs 14 people, both full and part-time. The team provide practice-based and on-site eye care, and they also dispense bespoke optical lenses for performers via their website and on-site clinics.

 

Business & Product Innovation Award Winner
Pharma Packaging Systems Ltd

www.pharmaps.com

Pharma Packaging Systems specialise in the design and manufacture of Pharmaceutical Tablet Counting Machines.

They are a small business of 22 employees based in Pershore, Worcestershire and provide customers with high-tech, reliable packaging solutions. Their area of expertise is in the high-speed counting technology they supply. They use specially designed infrared sensors to count tablets or capsules at speed as they are dispensed into their bottles. Counting machines can be purchased as standalone systems or integrated into a turn-key packaging line.

In addition to providing the machinery, they install, maintain and service it, allowing them to build a close working relationship with customers. Their biggest achievement is being internationally recognised as a quality name in pharmaceutical packaging equipment. They work with agents, well placed around the globe to promote their machines. Their directors use their expertise to source credible agents to allow them to expand in new markets. They currently have agents working in North America, Europe, Asia and Africa. For such a small business, they are incredibly proud to supply machinery that is vital to the functionality of some of the biggest pharmaceutical names.

Congratulations also to the shortlisted finalists in this category:

Digital Innovation Award Winner
Ocucon Ltd

www.ocucon.com

They conceived the idea of developing a fully managed system that could offer unlimited cloud-based storage with zero capital expenditure on the part of the client.

In 2016, frustrated with the limitations of existing CCTV technologies on the market, Ocucon founders Stuart and Gary began to explore the possibility of launching their own solution. They conceived the idea of developing a fully managed system that could offer unlimited cloud-based storage with zero capital expenditure on the part of the client. From this began Ocucon, the world’s first true Video Surveillance as a Service (VSaaS) system. Breaking new ground, Ocucon harnesses proprietary technology to remove the physical limitations placed on the amount of surveillance footage businesses can save.

By providing flexibility to store uncapped amounts of data for as long as required, their aim is to revolutionise the way in which businesses defend against crime, combat fraudulent insurance claims and enable greater use of video analytics for enhanced loss prevention and business insight. In Q3 2018 their team delivered further innovative technology with the launch of a first-of-its-kind intelligent video redaction service for GDPR compliance– Ocucon Pixelate. Pixelate harnesses Artificial Intelligence and machine learning to deliver automated video redaction. Its cost-effective, web-based service significantly reduces redaction times compared to other tools.

Congratulations also to the shortlisted finalists in this category

Employer of the Year
DBS Internet Marketing

www.dbsinternetmarketing.co.uk

Award winning DBS Internet Marketing is a long-established and successful business based in the beautiful cliff village of Navenby in Lincolnshire.

DBS originally specialised in printed directory advertising and was founded in 1996 by director David Clarke. With the advent of the digital world the company found that to survive and thrive it had to evolve rapidly into its current core activities of web design and online marketing.

A team of seven passionate, dedicated and motivated individuals make up DBS, looking after around 140 clients across Lincolnshire, the East Midlands and UK. Not only do they hit their financial targets but they also gain recognition in their industry.

In 2017 they were Lincolnshire Digital Tech Small Business of the Year Finalists and Best Use of Multi Media Finalists. DBS was also awarded the 2017 Entrepreneur Award for Innovation by the Greater Lincolnshire and Peterborough FSB. In 2018 they won the Community Business Award for both the East Midlands FSB and North Kesteven District Council. Their CSR programme is remarkable considering that they are a small, close knit team of seven. It’s important for DBS to put something back into the community it serves. DBS is an Investors In People company.

Congratulations also to the shortlisted finalists in this category:

Ethical - Green Business of the Year
Vegeco Ltd

www.benevo.com

Vegeco is an ethical organisation owned by brothers Damian Eadie and Darrell de Vries, who have always been interested in business.

From selling their toys in their front garden to passers-by in the 1980s, to brainstorming ideas while picking apples for a summer on a farm in their teens, to starting an online business from a back room - and following successful teaching and media careers - they began selling vegetarian and vegan food online in 2003.

The business hit the ground running on day one and soon the back room became their parents double garage in Havant, then a southern electricity building in Chichester, followed by a warehouse in Havant, and finally a move to a larger warehouse in Havant where they have been ever since. Damian, a vegan of 20+ years and Darrell, a vegetarian of 20+ years, chose to only sell products and do business in a way that aligns with their core beliefs. They started their own vegan pet food brand in 2005 and it won a Queens Award for Enterprise for International Trade in 2018. Their warehouse and electric forklift is powered by wind and solar energy, they have LED office and warehouse  lighting and a zero to landfill policy for their waste.

Congratulations also to the shortlisted finalists in this category:

Family Business of the Year
Cruise Loch Ness Ltd

www.cruiselochness.com

Since 1968, Cruise Loch Ness has carried over two million passengers and now employs 18 staff. Ronald Mackenzie and his wife, Debi, run the business, which celebrated its 50th year in business last year. In 1968, Ronald’s father, Norman, launched the business with the support of his late wife, Effie, and although now retired, he still has a keen interest in the business. Ronald’s two brothers are dedicated crew and are incremental to the day-to-day running of the business, all working together as one team.

Cruise Loch Ness, has two passenger vessels and three high-speed Ridged Inflatable Boats (RIBs). In 2018, a new custom  esigned catamaran ‘The Spirit of Loch Ness’ was launched with a £1.5m investment, increasing overall passenger capacity by 30 per cent, bringing the total up to 354 passengers across all boats at any one point. They educate and thrill passengers with a range of affordable boat rides, from leisurely to exhilarating. Passengers are treated to an animated, educational and unforgettable experience upon the world’s most famous body of water because the company knows it like the back of their hand.

Congratulations also to the shortlisted finalists in this category:

International Business of the Year
Crafter’s Companion

www.crafterscompanion.co.uk

Crafter’s Companion was founded in 2005 by Sara Davies MBE, while she was studying for a business degree at York University.

During a placement at a small craft company, Sara spotted a gap in the market for a tool that could create bespoke envelopes for handmade cards. With help from her retired engineer father, Sara designed and launched a groundbreaking craft product called The Enveloper. After securing a slot on TV shopping channel Ideal World, The Enveloper became an instant hit, selling 1,500 in the first ten minutes and 30,000 units within six months of the initial demonstration. This demand led Sara to develop her first line of innovative products for the craft market. She left university with a first-class honours degree and a business turning over half a million pounds.

Today, Crafter’s Companion is a leading craft supplier and global retailer. The company sells its products through its three websites (US, UK and trade), its own outlets, independent retailers and TV shopping channels.

The company has a UK headquarters and store in Newton Aycliffe, outlets in Evesham, Chesterfield and Colne, a head office in Corona, California, and employs 180 people worldwide.

Congratulations also to the shortlisted finalists in this category:

Micro Business of the Year
Kent Crisps Ltd

www.kentcrisps.com

Founded in 2011 and independently owned and managed by Kent-born Laura Bounds, Kent Crisps is a truly Kentish brand with regional roots and international aspirations.

The ethos of the company is to create the best tasting hand cooked crisps using British grown, Red Tractor assured potatoes and working closely with British producers to create unique flavours that show off some of the best local food and drink. This is coupled with using iconic landscapes and places of interest for the pack imagery to promote the county through tourism, along with strong placement of the Union flag to ensure that the brand is easily identifiable as being British.

The range consists of seven flavours: Sea Salt, Ashmore Cheese & Onion, Sea Salt & Cider Vinegar with Biddenden Cider, Smoked Chipotle Chilli, Ham & Mustard, Oyster & Vinegar and Roast Beef with Spitfire Ale. Pack imagery includes Canterbury Cathedral, Beach Huts at Seasalter, Ramsgate Harbour, an oast house in rolling Kent fields, the iconic White Cliffs of Dover and just launching, Leeds Castle.

Kent Crisps works across a wide range of sectors and although the primary target market is regional, travel and export are also fast growing and key marketplaces.

Congratulations also to the shortlisted finalists in this category:

Scale-Up Business of the Year
Flame Heating Group

www.flameheatingspares.com

Flame Heating Group is the North East’s fastest growing heating and plumbing merchant.

Flame Heating Group specialises in the supply of heating spares for commercial heating and plumbing purposes, renewable energy and bathrooms. The company currently operates out of 11 branches in the North East and Scotland, with plans in place to launch further outlets throughout the UK, including in Cumbria and Yorkshire.

In 2017, Flame launched its first bathroom showroom, in Durham, and is also planning to launch further showrooms as part of its expansion plans.

Flame also offers a unique hire equipment lease service for installers whose flue gas analysers are sent away for servicing, as well as a new service to provide affordable finance to people who need to replace old or broken-down boilers in their homes, helping to reduce bills. The company has also introduced a revolutionary app for its customers, which has the capabilities to perform diagnostics on boilers and identify the parts required. Installers can also order parts direct, at the touch of a button, for collection at one of Flame’s branches or for delivery.

Congratulations also to the shortlisted finalists in this category:

Start-Up Business of the Year
Aidie London

www.aidielondon.com

Aidie London specialises in infant footwear, designed to specifically enhance cognitive development in children as they learn to walk.

Implementing prinCiples of child psychology and anthropology, the company's first walking shoes support the cognitive and neural processes required to allow babies to learn to walk. As a child starts taking their first steps, the nerve endings in the soles of their feet gather information from the ground beneath and send it back up to the brain via a neural feedback loop. With every step, the brain receives new information and more neural connections are formed. The footwear facilitates this process through optimal sole density and flexibility, allowing infants to feel the ground beneath, encouraging balance, coordination and neural feedback.

The footwear range is made from lightweight, flexible leather and meets the criteria for first walking shoes outlined by the UK College of Podiatry. It is the only infant footwear brand on the market offering actively supportive first walkers backed by science. Their moccasins enhance, support and encourage the vital neural processes that take place when a child first learns to walk, whilst also providing physical support to infants’ developing ligaments, bones and soft tissue.

Congratulations also to the shortlisted finalists in this category:

Young Entrepreneur of the Year
Liv Conlon - ThePropertyStagers

www.thepropertystagers.co.uk

Many of the world’s most successful business ideas are borne out of frustration, and 20-year-old Liv Conlon’s million pound business, ThePropertyStagers, is no exception. When Liv’s mother Ali struggled to sell her investment property after three months on the market, the then 17-year-old Liv had an epiphany. Liv decided to seek a property staging service, however could not find any that offered her required service at an affordable price. Liv decided to create the service that she could not find. After doing so, her mother’s property sold above the valuation within three days.

Soon after, ThePropertyStagers was born. Liv’s business began as a direct result of being unable to sell her own properties, much like the clientele she now works with. Having experienced the same issues her clients face, Liv’s passion for her work stems from her understanding of the needs of those she serves. With this knowledge, Liv and her team manage property staging with the utmost care and passion from conception to completion, making sure her clients receive a good level of service.

Congratulations also to the shortlisted finalists in this category: