Who’s who at Chamber Business Awards

The Kilkenny Chamber of Commerce will highlight the work of local businesses at its annual Business Awards at a black-tie event this Saturday night in the Lyrath Estate Hotel.

The Kilkenny Chamber of Commerce will highlight the work of local businesses at its annual Business Awards at a black-tie event this Saturday night in the Lyrath Estate Hotel.

Below are the 34 citations representing 54 shortlisted nominees across 18 categories for the Business Awards, with the logos of each award’s sponsor.

Age Friendly Award

Health Express Pharmacy is based at the South East’s largest shopping centre at MacDonagh Junction. Part of a very progressive Irish retail pharmacy group, it employs six staff at its Kilkenny store. Committed to providing the best pharmaceutical care and advice to their customers, while also delivering exceptional customer services as well as providing a stimulative working environment for their team, Health Express Pharmacy continues to be both innovative and creative in meeting the many needs of their ever expanding customer base.

Kilkenny Ormonde Hotel is a four-star hotel located in the heart of Kilkenny just off the Parade plaza. The 118-bedroom hotel offers two restaurants, state-of-the-art conference and banqueting facilities catering for up to 500 people. The Kilkenny Ormonde also offers an extensive Leisure Club and KO Spa and employs 120 staff. Their mission is that they provide an efficient friendly service as well as providing an excellent proactive service, showing respect to their colleagues and customers in an enjoyable environment. The hotel enjoys close proximity to the Ormonde Street multi-storey car park.

Pembroke Hotel is another four-star hotel situated at Patrick Street close to the “heartbeat” of city centre Kilkenny. Taken over in 2009 by the current owners, the hotel has gone from strength to strength under the dynamic management team. They presently employ 45 staff and have a state-of-the-art business complex with 12 fully serviced offices all fully let. They adopt a very inclusive proactive approach in their sense of customer care. They also display great dignity in their purpose and nurture a strong sense of confidence in their team at the hotel.

Excellence in Communications

MD Media employs three staff and is based at 11 Patrick St in Kilkenny city. The company prides itself on providing a tailored, hands-on public relations and communications service to its clients. It is very much a results-driven business and holds many key Kilkenny business accounts. They constantly review strategies both internally with staff and also with their customer base. New goals and objectives are set with clients and all activity is constantly updated and evaluated on a monthly basis.

MIDAS PR was established in 2003 and describes itself as a boutique PR and Communications company with its offices at 11 Patrick Street, Kilkenny. It provides a service that caters for a once-off press release to a full-bells-and-whistles PR media campaign. The also provide a wide range of services including creative ideation, communications strategy, social media implementation and management as well as product launches, event and crisis management, copywriting and speech writing.

Instant Opinion uses mobile and cloud technology to provide a customer experience management platform that enables business organisations to connect with customers and staff privately and instantly. By using Instant Opinion a business is telling their customers that they want to hear from them, that they are listening and that they will respond promptly, delivering real benefits to both the business and their customer. Presently the focus is on Instant Events, Instant Opinions and Instant Ideas.

Craft Award

Carl Parker Jewels is located at the Castlecomer Discovery Park courtyard 12 miles from Kilkenny City. The development of the Discovery Park has been an important cog in securing considerable footfall for many of the courtyard businesses. North American tourists are a key component of their customer base and the VAT concession is crucial to the export side of Carl Parker Jewels’ business. Attracting visitors to their workshop has benefited the business greatly, as has the “scrap goal” campaign, and this has generated much new work with no material cost.

Rebekah Patterson started out working from Castlecomer but is now based at No 1 The Parade, Kilkenny. She is also developing an online millinery business. Specialising in exclusive designs and made to order, she has carved out a niche area in the retro/vintage area in ladies’ hats. She specialises in coming up with designs that reflect customer demands and also concentrates on mother-of-the-bride/bridal apparel. Nostalgic gift buying in woollens and felts are also a feature of the business.

Sevensisters Ceramics is located at 10 Main Street, Johnstown, and specialises in bespoke art pieces in hand-built stoneware clay at affordable prices. Their aim is to be a preferred supplier of ceramics and giftware with customer care and service top of their agenda. Product analysis and sales to date confirms an excellent range and suitably priced products. Their pieces have originality in both creativity and design. They pay particular attention to innovation and this has been a key driver of their business to date.

Customer Service

Aut Even Hospital, established in 1915, is located at the Freshford Road near Talbots Inch, Kilkenny and employs 225 staff. Now run by the Mount Carmel Medical Group, it provides access to quality health care in Kilkenny and the South East region generally. Performance and delivery of patient care strictly monitored and measured to the highest standards. The hospital has a clerical governance structure and they promote a “just” culture for staff, patients and visitors with special emphasis on quality of patient safety.

Marble City Travel trades from James’s Street, Kilkenny and employs 10 staff. They specialise in providing a hands-on personal care service to all of their customers, be it walk-ins, by phone or over the internet. Their aim is develop a travel company that communicates and operates via all communications channels. Forbes magazine wrote earlier this year “if you like travel (who does not?) find a good travel agent and start using them regularly. … It will pay you.”

The Pembroke Hotel. (See Age Friendly Category.)

Emerging New Business

Jerpoint Park is located at Jerpoint, Thomastown, a short distance from Stoneyford village and Mount Juliet resort. It is described as a tourist attraction with both heritage and culture in abundance beside the River Nore. It has been developed from a greenfield site to a tourist attraction that gained first place on Trip Advisor in Historic sites in county Kilkenny and third place in “things to do” in County Kilkenny. Situated at the centre of the historic triangle of Kells Priory, Jerpoint Abbey and Tullaherin Round Tower, it affords excellent hospitality at Belmore House in its elegant tea rooms.

MD Media. (See Excellence in Communications Category.)

Sevensisters Ceramics. (See Craft Award Category.)

Employee Award

Mary Massey, Goods, High Street. Mary has given over 35 years service to WH Good Department Store located at High Street, Kilkenny. She started off as a sales adviser and worked her way up through various departments to become Goods’ lingerie buyer. She is a very popular person with all of Goods’ many customers over the years. Mary has continually developed and refined her buying management skills and is respected by her customers and within the industry as an expert fitter and has appeared numerous times on both television and radio.

Valerie Ryan, Kilkenny Arts Festival. Valerie has been with the Arts Festival for over three years as office manager/accounts and has consistently demonstrated an enthusiasm for her work and the festival that is unrivalled. In 2011 the then CEO Damian Downes left the company to take up a new role and Valerie effectively managed the company when she was the only staff member. All areas demanded her attention and input including payments, reporting, marketing, accounts etc and she demonstrated a superb understanding of all aspects of the festival business during this period.

Sharon Stone, Kilkenny Leader Partnership. Sharon has worked with KLP for three years, starting off in a general administration role and growing that role to managing all external communications for KLP. She undertook in her own time and at her own expense a number of web design courses, resulting in her redesigning the KLP website. Sharon manages the KLP Facebook and Twitter feeds and often does so in out of office hours. She coordinates all print fliers material and content in-house and recently played a huge organisational role in compiling content for KLP 24-page supplement which appeared in the Kilkenny People.

Employer Award

FRS Recruitment. FRS is located at Cillín Hill, Carlow Road, Kilkenny and employs 25 people. FRS Recruitment, established over 10 years ago, has a long-term strategy to become the market leader within their business vertical markets within three years. These markets include the supply of temporary workers to industrial and manufacturing businesses and for administrative, back office, shared services and finance areas. FRS Recruitment provides work opportunities for individuals within the communities within which their offices are based.

McCreery Contract Cleaning. McCreery Contract Cleaning operates from Kilkenny City and employs 43 people. MCC started off with eight employees in 2000 and has grown its business and employment number by over 500% in the intervening period; it has just recently announced the creation of a further 25 jobs within the next six months. Innovation and investment have been keen drivers of the business at MCC. The introduction of the most modern state-of-the-art cleaning technologies and chemical-free cleaning products in recent years allied to its commitment to customer service has been central to its growth.

Pembroke Hotel. (See Age Friendly Category.)

Exporter Award

Glanbia Dairy Ingredients Ireland is based at Ballyragget. Established in 1965, it now employs 534 people. The business sells its range of technologies into the global infant formula, clinical nutrition, cream liqueurs, processed cheese and yogurt market manufacturers globally. It also has a significant operation at Virginia, County Cavan, and the business has sales centres based in the US, Ireland, Germany and Dubai through which 85% of their products are exported to 50 countries worldwide. The business operates from a world-leading innovation centre in Kilkenny.

Hybrid Energy Solutions was founded in 2006 to exploit the growing market opportunity for the provision of off-grid power to the telecoms sector. It has developed a unique and innovative solution to the on-going problem of securing easy access to cost-effective, clean sources of power. Their core product is a hybrid generator, similar to a hybrid vehicle. It reduces fuel consumption by 50% to 80% for a standard telecommunications base station and CO2 emissions by approximately 50 tonnes per annum. Hybrid Energy helps customers pursue a green strategy while reducing their operating costs.

Merlyn Industries is based at Purcellsinch in Kilkenny. Established in 2001, they employ 35 people in Kilkenny with a further 17 employed overseas in the UK and the Far East. They have succeeded in continuing to increase their exports in the last three years despite the very difficult trading conditions. Merlyn doesn’t just make shower enclosures, it designs, engineers and crafts the finest showering environments in the world. Their unrelenting attention to detail is matched only by their passion and understanding of good design and the importance of superb materials.

Family Business

Eurospar Newpark. Situated at Newpark Shopping Centre in Kilkenny City, it employs 63 people. Owned by John and Margaret McCarthy, the family business has gone from strength to strength since it opened in 2005. It prides itself on being an integral part of the local community and to give a local fresh food supermarket offer to the people of Newpark and surrounding areas. They recently underwent an expansion programme at the store and were awarded the 2012 Checkout Magazine Most improved Store award. The customer is king at Newpark Eurospar.

Kenna’s Butchers. The family business is based at Friary Street, Kilkenny since 1932 and celebrates its 80th birthday this year. With five staff, Patrick and Michael Kenna give a very personalised and top-quality butchery service to the people of Kilkenny. They specialise in high-quality traceable meat products and ensure that all produce both meet and exceed customer expectations. Another family member, John, manages the farming and slaughtering of the animals while Paddy at 76 years of age keeps a keen eye on the business still.

Lowry’s Home and Garden. The business is located at Parnell Street, Kilkenny city and employs 10 staff. The original furniture business founded in 1908 has been enhanced and expanded in 2010 with the addition of the garden dimension. Owned by Mike and Margaret Nolan, they deliver quality, value and service across all departments. They specialise in being innovative in their business especially in the area of effective communications with their customer base. The addition of the garden dimension has also seen their customer base expand quite considerably.

Food Producer

Balief Farm Foods. Located at Balief, Woodsgift, Freshford, the business is owned by Ivan Williams and Grainne Murphy. They supply free-range pork and bacon and grass-fed beef and lamb directly from their farm to their customers. Their next step is to expand the business by selling at farmers markets and also supplying restaurants, delicatessens and B&Bs. Their long-term goal is to build a specialist sustainable premises on the farm, in order to butcher on site and produce their own sausages, dry cured meats and salamis.

Glanbia. (See Exporter Category.)

Highbank Orchards. Established in 2003 and based at Highbank Organic Farm, Cuffesgrange, they employ five people. They have been involved in organic produce for 10 years and has developed the Bridgestone Guide-approved organic apple juice and organic mulled apple. It is fifth generation owned by Rod and Julie Calder-Potts. This year they successfully launched the first organic Kilkenny cider – Highbank Proper Cider – and is currently increasing production for the 2013 market. It is their intention to develop the Highbank brand in the food industry for both local and export markets.

Green Business

McCreery Contract Cleaning. (See Employer Award Category.)

Hybrid Energy Solutions. (See Export Award Category.)

Highbank Organic Farm. (See Food Produce Category.)

Heritage Award

Jerpoint Park. (See Emerging New Business Category.)

Rothe House and Garden was established in 2004 as Rothe House Trust and has seven staff employed. Located at Parliament Street, Kilkenny, it can trace its origins back to 1594, one of the oldest houses of its type in these islands. The major objective of the Trust is to conserve and maintain a national monument by growing Rothe House and Garden as a tourist visitor attraction within Kilkenny City. The Kilkenny Archaeological Society is headquartered at Rothe House. The business is operated by the Trust, represented by a voluntary board of directors. The garden project has been hugely influential in broadening the appeal to additional new footfall.

Tom Brett Photography. Tom is a native of Kilkenny City and has his studio, which was established in 1974, at Waterford Road, Kilkenny. A professional photographer for over 50 years, most of which he spent as the official photographer to the Kilkenny People, he recently published the book Kilkenny in Focus, a resume of his professional working career as a photographer covering the 50-year period through the lens of his camera. He also has another fine photographic work to his credit in the publication of ‘Treasures of Kilkenny’ coproduced with historian John Bradley. He is a lifelong member of the NUJ and IPPA. His work has been published worldwide.

Innovation Award

Hybrid Energy Solutions. (See Exporter Category.)

Instant Opinion. (See Excellence in Communications Category.)

Trudie’s Catering Kitchen is located on the Kilkenny side of New Ross at the Waterford Road and employs 25 people. Trading 10 years in business this year, Trudie’s were winners of the 2010 EIQA in the Processor and Producer category. They have two distinct business units, each with their own objective: 1. Retail clients where they manufacture and deliver premium quality homemade wholesome organic bulk-sized and pre-packed salads, hand -ut sandwiches, meat and salmon platters to the retail and catering trade; and 2. Domestic and corporate customers.

Invest in Skills

Gaeltec Utilities is located at Danville Business Park, Kilkenny and employs 170 staff. They specialise in design and installation of electricity and telecommunications infrastructures. Founded in 2003, the company is a subsidiary of TEGAEL of Portugal. TEGAEL has completed projects in countries such as Portugal, Spain, Morocco and Angola.

Next is a multi-department store located at MacDonagh Junction Shopping Centre beside Kilkenny Railway Station and it employs 42 people. Part of a multinational chain that has stores all over Ireland and the UK, they give an international dimension to adult and children’s fashion as well as homeware.

McCreery Contract Cleaning. (See Employer Category.)

Retailer Award

Eurospar Newpark. (See Family Business Category.)

Health Express. (See Age Friendly Category.)

Lamber de Bie is located at Ormonde Street in the heart of Kilkenny City. They employ 10 staff. Apart from Kilkenny they also have two flower shops in Waterford. Lamber de Bie is a Dutch master florist who trained in Holland for nine years and is a leading online florist for flowers delivered anywhere in Ireland and the UK. They work very closely with Retail Excellence Ireland and have initiated mystery shop experience in each of their stores that takes place in every quarter.

Service Provider

Aut Even Hospital. (See Customer Service Category.)

Marble City Travel. (See Customer Service Category.)

St Canice’s Kilkenny Credit Union is located at both High Street and MacDonagh Junction Shopping Centre in Kilkenny city. First established in 1964, it is a financial cooperative offering a wide range of services to members including savings, loans, budget accounts, ATMs, insurances, supports for small businesses, student services such as scholarships, members car draw and online facilities. St Canice’s exits for the sole purpose of serving its members. From its humble beginnings almost 40 years ago, it is now one of the largest and most successful credit unions in the country.

Small Business

Highbank Organic Farm. (See Food Producer Category.)

Lamber de Bie. (See Retailer Award Category.)

Midas PR. (See Communications Category.)

Tourism Award

Kilkenny Arts Festival. Now entering its 39th year, the Kilkenny Arts Festival was originally founded by a group of classical music enthusiasts. In recent years the festival has broadened its programming remit and now programmes theatre and dance, classical music, music, Wired, street, literature, visual art and craft. Underpinning the presentation of events is the commitment to bring work to Kilkenny that would not be seen outside the festival context and a desire to commission and produce new work from Ireland and abroad. Some estimates have placed the value of the festival to the local economy in Kilkenny at as much as €8 million.

Kilkenny Fashion Week festival was conceived by the Kilkenny City Centre Business Association as a means of promoting Kilkenny as a premier fashion shopping destination, both local and nationally. The event was staged over four days during October at locations throughout the city. The event was part-funded by Kilkenny Borough Council. The event garnered a huge amount of positive publicity for Kilkenny both locally and nationally. Much of this very positive publicity could not be bought with a budget of €100,000.

Trail Kilkenny was established in 2007 and operates from Patrick’s Court, Patrick Street, Kilkenny. Trail Kilkenny says it will lead and facilitate the development, management and promotion of a range of high-quality walking, cycling and other leisure trails for the benefit of visitors and residents of County Kilkenny. It focuses primarily in rural healthy leisure pursuits and is a nonprofit limited company. They work in close association with the Kilkenny Craft group, of which there are 120 such businesses in Kilkenny.

Awards will also include Business of the Year (sponsored by Glanbia), Diaspora Award (sponsored by Connect Ireland) and a Lifetime Achievement Award and President’s Award, both sponsored by the Chamber.