Entrepreneurs in the north-east were celebrated last night at an awards ceremony that featured a speech from a Nasa astronaut.
Property tycoon Graeme Bone was named entrepreneur of the year while veteran businessman James Milne CBE of Balmoral Group snapped up a lifetime achievement award.
More than 400 business representatives gathered for the Elevator Awards 2015 at The Mercure Aberdeen Ardoe House Hotel and Spa. The audience was addressed by key note speaker, NASA Astronaut and US Navy Captain, Steve Bowen.
Each year awards organisers Elevator brings in someone from outside the business community who they feel has something relevant to say to them.
Mr Bowen said: “I grew up in Massachusets in Boston and I would never have thought that I would grow up to become an astronaut.
“What I want to say is that if you work hard and stick at it you can achieve anything, that doesn’t have to relate to being an astronaut, it can be in any field, engineering science or anything else, the lesson is that if you stick at it you can succeed.”
He plans to stick around in Scotland for another week and will give a talk to pupils taking part in the Mission Discovery Space school run by Renfrewshire Council.
Chief executive of Elevator, Professor Gary McEwan said he was glad the spaceman could make it along.
He said: “We made an approach to Nasa, it’s no point having someone in from business, we want someone who has something to say which is relevant to business.”
He went onto comment on the state of business in the north-east.
“In the last year the biggest story has of course been the oil downturn, but this has led other people to move out of their comfort zone.
“People are realising in the lack of secure employment they need to take risks, so as the oil and gas sector winds down there are other businesses set up.
“In the last financial year there were more businesses set up in Aberdeen Shire and City than in any year we can remember.”
Winners at this year’s Elevator Awards included up-and-coming businesses, innovative organisations and firms from a diverse range of sectors including energy, technology, hospitality, beauty and property.
Mr Bone, managing director of Drum Property Group, founded the commercial and residential development group in 2004 after leaving a career as a solicitor and the firm is now responsible for a range of high profile sites, including the biggest commercial development in the UK outside of London – the £500million Prime Four business park at Kingswells. He will join other notable local entrepreneurs in the Elevator ‘Hall of Fame’ in recognition of his dedication to the property sector.
Mr Milne CBE was presented with the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award for his dedication to innovation and engineering in the north-east energy sector. Mr Milne’s grit and determination has made him one of the region’s most inspirational entrepreneurs and, aged 74, he continues to lead one of the North-east’s most successful businesses.
Mr McEwan said: “The Lifetime Achievement award is presented to a notable figure from the north-east business community, and Mr Milne received the accolade for his inspirational determination to succeed and for the enormous contribution he has made to the engineering and manufacturing sector in the north-east.
“The Entrepreneur of the Year accolade is presented to a businessperson who goes above and beyond to make their firm a success and Mr Bone, whose firm has one of the most impressive portfolios in the country, will join seven other notable entrepreneurs in the Enterprise ‘Hall of Fame’ in recognition for his work in the area.
“Year after year we are thoroughly impressed by the high standard of the entrants in the awards. Our final decision about the winners of each category was extremely difficult, but each and every individual who reached the finals stages should be proud of their achievements, and we encourage them to continue to be successful in their field.”
Other winners on the night were:
- Most Promising New Business: Bagels & Stuff
- Business Success Under Three Years: Zenith Energy
- Business Success Over Three Years: EFC Group
- The Grampian Award for Innovation: Equalizer Flange Integrity
- The ‘Spirit of Enterprise’ Awardl: Definition Skin and Laser Clinic
- The Alick Buchanan-Smith Enterprising Communities Award: North East Sensory Services
- Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year: Murray Kerr, chief executive of Subsea Engineering Services
- Employer of the Year: Grampian Fasteners
- Entrepreneurial Supporter of the Year : June Burnett, Aberdeenshire Council