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Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce


It’s time to shine! northern star business awards 2013 Winners Review

Principal Sponsor:

It’s time to shine

Our Winners! The Northern Star Business Awards event is the highlight of the North-east business calendar; not just as an outstanding night but as a springboard for even greater achievements for award winners. More than 800 people attended the gala dinner for the tenth annual ceremony at which the achievements and continuing success of all the finalists and the 14 award winners were celebrated. The tenth year of the awards was marked with the special award for Company of the Decade, reflecting the success of the event in the past 10 years. Principal sponsor for the event was Aberdeen Harbour Board, a valued and long-standing member of the Chamber. The host for the evening was one of Britain’s greatest swimmers of all time, Mark Foster, who competed in five Olympic Games. Holder of countless European and Commonwealth titles and world records and the flagbearer for Team GB at the opening ceremony at the Beijing Olympics in 2008, Mark charmed an enthusiastic audience on the night.

The Brothers Trim, a vibrant Barbershop Quartet, brought their unique vocal talents to provide the “Ultimate Award Ceremony Entertainment Experience”. Five charities benefited from the generosity of those attending the gala evening – Aberdeen Foyer, Aberdeen Sports Village, Aberlour Childcare Trust, CFINE and Enable Scotland. Category sponsors were Aberdeen International Airport; Aberdeen City Council; Aberdeen Harbour; Aberdeenshire Council; BG Group; Harrison Goddard Foote; Plexus; Process Safety Solutions; Robert Gordon University; ScotRail; Statoil; Stork Technical Services; and SuSe, and the Chamber is grateful for the ongoing support from Aberdeen Football Club, AECC, Anastasia, Ledingham Chalmers, Meldrum House Hotel and XIC.

Photographs can be viewed via the Chamber website at and are also available directly from the official photographer, Donald Stewart, at

Lifetime Achievement Gifted by Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce and Aberdeen City Council in recognition of outstanding, on-going commitment and achievement.


Sir Malcolm Bruce MP

It is now more than 30 years since Malcolm Bruce, a Liberal Party member since he was 17, was elected MP for Gordon after nine years of campaigning. He went on to retain the seat six times and continues to represent the constituency and have a major influence on North-east life although he has indicated he will stand down in 2015.

Sir Malcolm Bruce MP

Award Sponsor: Aberdeen City Council is delighted to sponsor the lifetime achievement award as it offers us the opportunity to recognise the outstanding contribution made by an individual from the region who demonstrates an entrepreneurial spirit and an innovation approach in their everyday working life.

The former journalist on the Liverpool Daily Post and buyer for Boots the Chemists moved to Scotland to a post as a research and information officer for the North East Scotland Development Authority. He was a director of the Noroil Publishing House and co-founder and editor of Aberdeen Petroleum Publishing. After standing unsuccessfully for election in 1974 for North Angus and Mearns and then West Aberdeenshire in 1979 he won the Gordon seat four years later. He is the President of the Scottish Liberal Democrats and has been his party’s spokesperson on Scottish affairs, energy, trade and industry, natural resources and the Treasury. He is a former Shadow Secretary for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Trade and also Industry. Sir Malcolm is president of the Grampian branch of the National Deaf Children’s Society as well as being national vice-president, and he is a vice-president of the Combined Heat

& Power Association. He has been a tireless campaigner on issues which affect his constituents from bypasses for Ellon, Bucksburn, Blackburn and Inverurie to campaigns for health services and community hospitals. For Sir Malcolm, a father of five, the hardest thing has been the separation from his family and he has calculated that the nights necessarily spent away from home add up to 10 years. He has said that although the diary pressure has been relentless, the variety has been immense and the opportunity to meet so many interesting people - most of them polite - and learn about so many areas of life has made it all worthwhile. In a tribute Bob Collier, chief executive of Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce, said: “Sir Malcolm has been an MP for 30 years and it is very rare for someone to be an MP continuously for so long. “He is a long-time supporter of the oil and gas sector and has a clear understanding of the economy in the region and the importance of the private sector. “Most businesses in the region will be aware of Malcolm’s work in these areas and many will have met him at some stage.”

Student Placement This special award recognises the important contribution that businesses make to students through their participation in RGU’s Aberdeen Business School student placement programme.


Simmons & Company International

During Craig Shand’s placement at Simmons & Company International, he was given a variety of unique opportunities, not least to lead a team providing the entertainment for the Christmas party. The BA (Hons) Accounting and Finance student benefited from working with a variety of people with different management skills which he believes has helped him become adaptable to the needs of a team.

Ross McLellan Simmons & Company International

Award Sponsor: With a 97.1% employment rate, Robert Gordon University has a global reputation for producing highly skilled graduates in a number of sectors. The professional education provided by the university from undergraduate level through to PhD owes much to RGU’s long-standing and close relationship with business. With work placements featuring on over 90% of our courses, we are proud to sponsor this award in recognition of the contribution North-east companies make to our students’ learning experience and to the content of our courses.

He was given exposure to top clients in senior management and board level positions which enhanced his written and verbal communication skills and allowed him to gain an insight into the working philosophy of these highcalibre individuals and adopt these into his own working practices. He was entrusted with his own responsibilities and offered the same experience as graduate-entry analysts and was encouraged to work under his own initiative, be proactive and self-reliant. He believes that will be of huge importance during his final year at university. His Simmons colleagues made every effort to ensure his placement was an enriching and rewarding experience and he was given an intensive schedule of internal training sessions and also given the opportunity to attend energy conferences such as Subsea UK to enable him to gain an

understanding of the industry in which Simmons specialises. The Christmas party challenge involved managing a team of 11 and a budget for equipment and props in the writing and performing of a comedy “nativity”. This not only provided him with an insight into the Simmons culture which made his placement so enjoyable but gave him a greater opportunity to develop leadership and project management skills than he believes most placement providers would not have been able to offer. By providing a challenging and dynamic working environment, Simmons allowed him to broaden and develop his skills beyond his expectations in a relatively short time.

Rising Star Awarded to an individual employee who has shown outstanding potential and is proven to have made a major impact and contribution within the company.


Brian Chalmers, Wood Group PSN

At 35, Brian is the youngest senior manager in Wood Group’s history.

clients, colleagues, the regulators and the supply chain.

He was appointed to his current role as Wood Group PSN’s business unit director for business stream 4 in 2013 and is currently responsible for three of the UK’s most significant projects, Taqa Bratani Limited, BP Focus and BP Sullom Voe.

He is a visible leader with strong communication skills. Through his commitment to relationships, Brian has fostered a culture of trust and respect amongst the workforce and with the client, which provides a solid foundation for excellent safety performance.

He leads a team of more than 1,750 employees who are spread offshore and throughout UK offices in Aberdeen, Glasgow and Hull.

Brian Chalmers Wood Group PSN

Award Sponsor: Aberdeen International Airport is proud to support the Northern Star Awards, and specifically the category of Rising Star. Encouraging and developing our own workforce, and providing them with opportunities to grow and learn, is reflected in the criteria of this category and ultimately in the calibre of nominees.

In his 13 years in the oil and gas industry since completing a four-year mechanical engineering apprenticeship, he has notched up several awards and accolades, including the OCA Challenge for Safety Award, the British Safety Council Sword of Honour and the Wood Group Chairman’s Award for HSE. Brian is dedicated to customer satisfaction, innovation and safety and his focus on people and the community is a legacy that resonates throughout each of the projects he has worked on. His commitment to safety has also resulted in major improvements on projects. A large part of Brian’s success is due to the time and appreciation he has for the importance of strong relationships with the workforce,

Brian promotes and champions health and safety on a daily basis making it his focus for improvement, encouraging suggestions, motivating staff and engaging with the workforce to solve health and safety problems. These actions, coupled with developing trusting, supportive yet challenging relationships with key stakeholders has led to an impressive, healthy safety culture and improving safety performance.

Outstanding Contribution to the Energy Sector Awarded to the company that can demonstrate an outstanding contribution to the energy sector within the North-east of Scotland.


Aker Solutions

Aker Solutions is one of Scotland’s largest employers with a workforce of more than 2,800 in Aberdeen and recruitment of a further 500 staff nearing completion. It has a history spanning more than 30 years in Aberdeen and has played an integral role in the development of the North Sea since the 1970s but even in that long success story, recent developments have been remarkable.

Mike Griffin Aker Solutions

Award Sponsor: BG Group is a world leader in natural gas. Active in more than 20 countries on five continents, BG Group has a broad portfolio of business interests focused on exploration and production and liquefied natural gas. It combines a deep understanding of gas markets with a proven track record in finding and commercialising reserves.

It has secured a raft of major contracts worth more than £650million and has invested more than £5.5million in growing its facilities, capabilities and service provision for the North Sea sector. It has also manufactured gamechanging technology which is driving the industry to the next stage in its evolution. Its customers range from super majors to small independents and the Aberdeen operation is focused on maintenance, modifications and operation; drilling technologies; well intervention services; and subsea. It is a global contributor to the energy industry with exports accounting for more than a third of its business.

The skills, knowledge and technical expertise developed in the North-east are sent all round the world raising the profile of the European oil capital. Aker Solutions is an active advocate of the need to secure a suitably skilled workforce for the future and has consistently invested significantly in its apprentice and graduate programmes. It has also recruited and up-skilled more than 100 ex-Forces personnel in recent years and during 2013 will recruit approximately 50 graduates into its structured engineering and business programmes as well as partner with many schools and academic institutions. Last year it was hailed as an outstanding example of Scottish manufacturing success after a £1.6million investment in its subsea manufacturing facilities saw production capacity double. However the company recognises that its people are its greatest asset and strives to ensure employees feel inspired to continue developing their careers with Aker Solutions and have the support to do so.

The Green Award Awarded to the company that has implemented a strategy to reduce the impact its business makes on the environment or is involved in providing alternative energy supplies.


ARR Craib Transport Ltd

ARR Craib Transport Ltd, which serves a wide range of customers across the UK, has operated an environmental policy for a number of years. It has a fleet of 250 vehicles and as a result of a £3million investment in the past 12 months, 93% have emission levels less than many family cars.

Eddie Anderson ARR Craib Transport Ltd

Award Sponsor: The Northern Star Awards are firmly established as being the most prestigious recognition of excellence in the region’s business community and Aberdeenshire Council is proud to be a long term award sponsor and supporter of the event. Future competitiveness of businesses and the area as a place to live and work is increasingly dependent on energy efficiency and affordable energy, so the Council’s sponsorship of the Green Award is particularly appropriate.

The aims of its environmental policy include improving miles per gallon; reducing unnecessary road miles; reducing fuel waste by driver training; recycling all waste; and ensuring offices, warehouses and yards have fuel efficient heating and lighting systems. The company is keen to counter the general perception that large goods vehicles are polluting juggernauts and has completed the roll-out of a sophisticated £100,000 vehicle telematics system which monitors vehicle and driver performance. It provides detailed information on mpg and measures factors like acceleration, braking and driving style to give the company vital data to manage improvement. The system has been backed up by the creation of a driver training officer post. The telematics system has helped cut idling time by 90% in just a year, saving 1,100 litres of fuel per week and as ARR Craib spends almost

£8million a year on diesel, the savings through all measures are not only dramatic in environmental terms but hugely rewarding for the company from a financial perspective. The company’s two industrial truck washes only use biodegradable cleaning fluids and recycle 90% of the water. Acid-filled track batteries, oil, fuel and air filters, waste oils and scrap metal are recycled, as is waste paper. The offices, warehouses and yards at all sites have motion-sensitive light sensors or timer light-switches. Heating systems in warehouses are fuel efficient and all waste paper is recycled. Engagement with the staff has been crucial to the success and a 48% increase in pre-tax profit in the last financial year, in a stagnant period for the transport industry, is directly attributable to the initial results of the telematics and driver training programme.

Achievement in International Business In recognition of the company that has been most successful in growing its international business value and market share.

WINNER: activpayroll Activpayroll has secured new business in more than 60 countries over the last 24 months from Bahrain and Burundi to Kazakhstan and Kenya. It continues to expand in the domestic market but the majority of its revenue is now generated outwith the UK although it is managed from its global HQ in Aberdeen where the company was established in 2001.

Alison Sellar

Many factors have contributed to the international success of the company, which has offices in Houston and Washington in the US and Perth and Sydney in Australia.


Award Sponsor: As a key driver of economic activity in the region, Aberdeen Harbour recognises the need to ensure that successful businesses are acknowledged and rewarded. The Northern Star event is a prime example of an award programme that honours all that is great about business in the North-east of Scotland.

Activpayroll has built its reputation in the oil and gas sector which accounts for approximately 70% of its revenue and growing that is at the heart of its development plans. It is establishing strong partnerships in the prominent BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) countries and is expanding into new sectors. Experience in handling complex multi-country oil and gas sector payrolls has equipped it to manage the complexities of the aviation market and achieve a significant share of the helicopter market. A specialist aviation team has now been set up to target fixed-wing operators across Europe, the Middle East and Africa as well as the US.

There have been many challenges for which activpayroll has developed solutions. These include changing its recruitment process to attract and retain a more diverse employee base to match its diverse client base; providing cultural training to ensure staff have the local knowledge to provide support wherever they operate around the world; and developing a strategy to counter the risks of sudden political change. It has been recognised by Scottish Development International and Scottish Enterprise as an international high-growth firm to participate in their support programme. Its chief executive officer Alison Sellar has also been appointed a “Global Scot� to promote international trade with Scottish firms and to advise other Scottish firms on export strategies.

Commitment to People Development Awarded to the company that has shown the most commitment to developing its staff through skills and personal development, investment and achievement programmes and outcomes.


Swire Oilfield Services

Swire Oilfield Services looks upon employee development as a key investment rather than a cost. The company operates in a sector with increasingly fierce global competition for the skills required to run an organisation successfully. By training and developing staff internally and internal promotions, Swire is always able to access the skills it requires from within the organisation.

Roy Burrell

The company’s training and development programme also means staff can keep up with the constantly evolving demands of customers.

Swire Oilfield Services

Award Sponsor: Statoil’s overall strategic objective is to build a globally competitive company, to promote a stimulating work environment guided by our values, and be an exceptional place to perform and develop. Statoil is delighted by the opportunity to sponsor this award for Commitment to People Development. If the industry is to provide the skilled resources required going forward, there needs to be increasing focus on developing our people and bringing new talent into the sector.

There are numerous development programmes to allow staff to fulfill their potential and help the company achieve its business objectives. Swire School 1, for example, is a six-month introduction to leadership for every future manager or senior member of staff and looks to improve their core competencies to those required for the position. Each participant is sponsored by a senior member of staff who mentors them until they graduate. Swire School 2 develops future senior managers and leaders who are nominated by their peers and undertake an intense 16-18 month development course.

They are encouraged to identify an issue or aid to the company’s growth which they pitch to senior management who decide if it is ready for implementation. It is a process which encourages confidence and development of the core competencies needed to become a senior member of staff while enabling the business to have vital input from its most valuable assets. SMART goals training (Specific – Measurable – Achievable – Relevant – Time bound) and performance management set goals for the business units and individuals ensuring each individual meets his or her targets alongside their department’s, assisting the progression and growth of the company. Swire Oilfield Services is growing rapidly and is looking to expand its global workforce of 750 by 30% over the next 12 months which will require people in disciplines from engineering and finance to commercial operations. Its own initiatives have helped meet this demand by allowing individuals to develop and progress along with the company.

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Outstanding Contribution to Society In recognition of the organisation or company that can demonstrate a significant, ongoing commitment by aligning their values and strategy with the greater needs of society.

WINNER: Cornerstone Cornerstone is a leading provider of services for adults, young people and children with learning and physical disabilities, mental health problems and other support needs. However it goes much further than simply ensuring they are fed, warm and safe - it helps to ensure the people it supports enjoy a “valued life”.

Edel Harris and Jayne Findlay Cornerstone

Award Sponsor: As a premier partner of AGCC, Stork Technical Services has chosen to support the Northern Star Business Awards again this year. This is in recognition of the continued success of this highly regarded, prestigious event and its commitment to the search of local business excellence. Stork Technical Services is committed to excellence in everything we do. We use our knowledge and experience to solve problems and provide innovative solutions for our clients and we are proud to support an event that recognises original, quality and exceptional achievements throughout the North-east of Scotland. The Northern Star Business Awards objectives are very much in alignment with the values and visions of Stork Technical Services.

The “valued lives” it aims to achieve are ones where people are accepted in society, have the opportunity to make friends and have relationships and are given the chance to do meaningful things with their time. It offers a wide range of care and support services, from care homes, and respite care to encouraging the people it supports to enjoy leisure and social activities others may take for granted, such as shopping, watching football or dancing. It supports 2,000 people, including more than 760 in the North-east, and employs 1,700 staff and 300 volunteers in 20 local authority areas in Scotland. It operates five social businesses including two cafes in the west of Scotland, Gift Corner and Woodview Embroidery Services in Stonehaven, and Bennachie Upholstery in Aberdeen, which all provide employment and training for people with disabilities and generate annual income of around £700,000.

Cornerstone’s extremely successful business model mirrors that of a commercial organisation, with a marked shift away from reliance on local authority funding and increased income from its thriving social enterprise companies and social housing stock. Cornerstone became the first and only Scottish charity to be recognised with a prestigious European Foundation of Quality Management (EFQM) Recognised for Excellence Award. Cornerstone is committed to continued expansion and growth, while ensuring it provides the possible care to the people it supports. Many public organisations and charities are struggling in these difficult financial times, but with strong leadership, Cornerstone is bucking that trend. It is seeing business growth, an increase in the number of people who receive a service and an increase in funds raised.

The Business Diversity Award In recognition of the business which has shown its recruitment practice to be fair and open, resulting in the employment of people with diverse backgrounds and abilities.


The Spotty Bag Shop

This local Banff business sells a range of goods from clothing and household goods to pet products and garden supplies and also has a restaurant. It is committed to sustaining a diverse workforce. The owner, Des Cheyne, is always keen to give people a chance and has provided work trials for people with learning disabilities giving them the opportunity to prove their worth in the role rather than through an interview and selection process.

Ashleigh Irvine and Des Cheyne The Spotty Bag Shop

Award Sponsor: SUSE is supporting this award to highlight the significant contribution that disabled people and people from diverse backgrounds make within their workplaces, and the good practice exhibited by employers. The award is jointly sponsored with Aberdeenshire Council Employability Service, Cornerstone Employment Service, Momentum Scotland and the Royal National Institute of Blind People.

During their trial period they receive training and individual support and that has proved a worthwhile investment and has also encouraged working between the company and Aberdeenshire Council Employability Service which can provide support where required. He currently has one person Ashleigh Irvine - recruited this way working in the restaurant serving customers, clearing tables, taking orders and using the till and her training is ongoing. A second works in another of his stores in Macduff as a store person where his limited literacy skills are accommodated. Both workers are fully integrated members of the teams and are paid the same rate as colleagues. They have increased self confidence, feel valued and proud and the other

workers have accepted them. They have changed the perception of disability for many of their coworkers who now appreciate they can be a valuable part of the team. The company plans to continue to offer opportunities to people with disabilities. It has found the work trial system works well and may also consider “working interviews�. This is a relatively small local business which has taken the time and effort to provide access to paid employment with the extra training and support which have been required. Where difficulties have arisen, they have been dealt with sympathetically and effectively with positive results and The Spotty Bag Shop’s good work should provide inspiration and encouragement to other employers.

Best Campaign Awarded to the company that has planned and implemented a successful marketing campaign.


Beverley Tricker Tricker PR

Award Sponsor: ScotRail Business Direct is delighted once again to sponsor a category at the prestigious Northern Star Business Awards. With such a firm emphasis on the celebration of outstanding achievement in business excellence in the North-east; our support of the Northern Star Business Awards has become a favourite feature in our business-to-business calendar of events. The awards offer a fantastic opportunity to thank our existing clients in the Northeast, provide excellent coverage thus driving brand awareness, and let us build new business contacts for the year ahead.

Tricker PR

“Save Our Dram� provided the high impact campaign with broad appeal to publicise the annual celebration of Scotland’s national drink - the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival (SOSWF).

and Scottish whisky. Tricker PR encouraged the festival and key groups such as the Scotch Whisky Association to plot a way forward to negotiate with the National Measurement Office.

Tricker PR approached the National Measurement Office to request that the dram be restored as a legal measurement and when, after two requests and three follow-ups, the official letter was received declining the request, the campaign was launched.

The campaign achieved television coverage on BBC and STV as well as significant radio coverage.

The campaign encouraged support for the dram and incited indignation that a national body had deemed the dram to be illegal as a measurement. The festival had never before targeted an international market but such was the success of the campaign, it took SOSWF to a global audience. Facebook and Twitter accounts were launched and whisky bloggers were a key target with messages of support posted on social media from as far afield as the US and Australia. It became clear that what started as a tongue-in-cheek request to help bolster ticket sales had become a platform for serious discussion about the use of a word synonymous with Scotland

It made the front page of The Scotsman, as well as page leads in The Herald and Daily Record. The campaign was successful in both highlighting the event and driving traffic to its website where tickets could be bought and record sales were achieved. It put the whole of Speyside in the spotlight with a knock-on economic benefit for many businesses during the festival. It has raised an awareness of the event which SOSWF believes will pay dividends in future years.

Excellence in Customer Service Awarded to the company that consistently delivers outstanding customer service and can demonstrate, through structured assessment and satisfaction measurement, that meeting customers’ needs is a priority throughout its entire business. WINNER:

Indigo Technologies

Customer service is at the heart of Indigo Technologies’ business strategy and has been key to its successful growth since it was founded in 2005. Indigo is passionate about ensuring that its clients are free to focus on their core activities, confident in the reliability of their IT systems.

Sean Thomson Indigo Technologies

Award Sponsor: HGF Aberdeen Patent and Trade Mark Attorneys is delighted to sponsor the Northern Star Award for Customer Service. There are many fantastic companies in the North-east who provide excellent customer service. Our own customer focus, providing bespoke IP management services alongside IP protection, makes sponsoring this award a natural choice for us. HGF Aberdeen is itself passionate about providing quality customer service from its Bridge of Don office, where we have gained in–depth knowledge of local industries and develop bespoke IP strategies for our clients. HGF Patent and Trade Mark Attorneys nationally along with sister firm HGF Law together form the fastest growing, full-service intellectual property UK firm and one of the top five IP firms in the UK.

The excellent customer service it delivers was recognised with a Northern Star Award in this category in 2010 and that success has been repeated in 2013 as a result of continued investment in technological developments and staff training, even during a time when many firms have cut spending. Indigo is aware of how significant an impact a happy team can have on customer service levels so its management work hard to ensure high levels of employee satisfaction. This has resulted in the staff continually showing willingness to pull out the stops and go above and beyond the call of duty for the company. Repeat business, increased scope of services and referrals show this effort is recognised and valued by clients. The Indigo management lead by example and there can be no clearer demonstration of their determination to meet the needs

of customers than last Hogmanay when a client’s system failed. To ensure the client was able to meet its deadlines one of Indigo’s directors abandoned his celebrations with his family, including his four young children, and at midnight as the new year arrived he was swapping over the firm’s server to get its systems back up and running. Indigo was also the first company in the North-east to attain Gold status under the Microsoft Server Platform competency, an accolade only awarded to companies which achieve extremely high levels of customer satisfaction. The Excellence in Customer Service Award is recognition for the efforts of the whole Indigo team and evidence that small independent companies can compete with their larger cash rich counterparts.

Commitment to Innovative Use of Research and Development In recognition of the company that has demonstrated an innovative use to research and development to create commercial growth and gain competitive advantage.


SPEX Group

Around 70% of the Spex Group’s £14million turnover last year was attributable to research and development and in particular to three technologies which provide solutions to long standing oil and gas industry problems. They have all been developed for oil major Shell from concept to successful field trials in less than two years compared to a typical time scale of 15 years and mean a step change in terms of safety and protecting the environment.

Nadir Mahjoub SPEX Group

Award Sponsor: PSS is deeply rooted in the North-east and delighted to sponsor the Commitment to Innovative Use of Research & Development category in the tenth Northern Star Business Awards. Built upon a culture of innovation, PSS is constantly investing in R&D to develop solutions that overcome common challenges facing the international oil and gas sector. With this approach PSS has taken significant steps to simplify safety, introducing new software and hardware solutions that have increased clients’ operational performance. The success of the North-east and business is largely dependent on the ability to constantly evolve and PSS is honoured to have been on the judging panel to recognise some of the most innovative companies in the area.

The EST (Emergency Separation Tool) uses internal explosives to cut presently non-shearable components near a blow out preventer (BOP) in a safe and controlled manner in the event of an uncontrolled event allowing the BOP to close. Final field tests will take place in the Gulf of Mexico later this year with roll-out expected early next year. It will be followed by the CID (Collapsible Insert Device) and the RST (Riser Severance Tool). The CID is a downhole tool which can significantly reduce the uncontrolled flow of hydrocarbons in a worst-case scenario and the RST is a riser cutter which is deployed using explosive technology, similar to the EST, if a rig or vessel inadvertently moves off location.

SPEX has increased turnover from £300,000 when it was founded with 10 staff in 2009 to more than £17million this year and it now has more than 90 staff. It is an exemplar of a knowledgedriven company gaining success through innovation, passion, commitment and commercial delivery. It is an inspiration by demonstrating how an Aberdeen-based SME can compete with the major international service companies to win business from oil supermajors and deliver ground-breaking technological advancements for the industry.

Overall Business of the Year Awarded to the company which is held as an example of excellent practice and an inspiration to all businesses by attaining market prominence.

WINNER: Entier It’s fourth time lucky for the privately-owned contract catering and facilities management company which was launched in September 2008, just a week before Lehman Brothers Bank in New York filed for bankruptcy, marking what was widely regarded the start of the credit crunch. Entier has been a Northern Star finalist every year since 2010 and despite numerous challenges, including its initial banker pulling out, two clients going burst and a supplier defrauding it, the company is thriving. Peter Bruce Entier

It has achieved sustainable and steady growth year-on-year and is investing its success back into the North-east through the supply chain.

Award Sponsor: Plexus is delighted to support this year’s Northern Star Business Awards, an event which provides the opportunity to celebrate and showcase the best in class within the North-east. As sponsor of the Overall Business of the Year category, Plexus recognises the importance of acknowledging business excellence, which is achieved through clear strategic focus, supported by committed and flexible teams who willingly embrace change.

The founding directors believed there was a gap in the market to offer a top-class service using quality local produce and Entier now provides offshore catering and hotel services to 24 units in the North Sea and internationally in eight countries. The company’s growth strategy has been to focus on the areas in which it has strength and support - UK, Norway and Canada - and enter new countries only where its clients will support it. It takes advantage of the substantial local supply chain to maximise taste, and support the North-east

farming industry. The company policy of providing the best service by employing the best people and training them to deliver is paying off. It was recently awarded Investors in People accreditation recognising its commitment to employees and demonstrating a solid foundation of good practice. Each year, Entier recruits two or three new apprentices through Fresh Olives, a pioneering competition aimed at school leavers. The pupils participate in a series of set tasks and practical assignments which were developed and aligned to the national school syllabus and 10 finalists make it to a final heat in which a two-hour cooking assessment determines the overall winners.

Company of the Decade This award marks the tenth anniversary of the Northern Star Business Awards, which over the past decade have celebrated the wide range of innovation and expertise in North-east businesses across all sectors.


Wood Group

The judges were presented with an exceptional shortlist which included Aberdeen Asset Management and FirstGroup as well as Wood Group. All three are outstanding Northeast companies which have grown to have a global impact in their sectors. However the title went to Wood Group for its continuous growth and development over the whole of the last decade.

Robin Watson Wood Group PSN

The Northern Star Business Awards is the flagship event for Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce. Over the last decade, the awards have recognised performance across a range of fields from customer service to business diversity. The Chamber judges that the Company of the Decade has excelled in all these fields and more. In the past ten years, their commitment, innovation and expertise have shone through and the Chamber was delighted to crown a true Northern Star.

During that time it has been constantly striving to become bigger and better and its leadership remains committed to the Northeast in which the company is deeply rooted. Wood Group has enjoyed a long tradition of success since its early days in the 1900s when the family business began. William Wood, Sir Ian Wood’s grandfather, founded Wood & Davidson, a ship repair and marine engineering firm to service the fishing fleet and in 1960, the business employed 50 people with revenues of $100,000. In the 1970s when oil and gas reserves were discovered in the North Sea, Sir Ian was quick to appreciate the opportunity it presented to translate marine engineering experience into

engineering and support services and the company underwent major expansion. Over the past decade, following a successful IPO on the London Stock Exchange in 2002, that expansion has continued. In 2006 Wood Group was awarded its first duty-holder contract in the North Sea and employed 20,000 people with revenues of $3.5billion. In 2001 it acquired PSN to create Wood Group PSN, the leading global brownfield production services provider. Today it is an international energy services company with around $7billion sales, employing about 43,000 people and operating in 50 countries. It has three businesses – Wood Group Engineering, Wood Group PSN and Wood Group GTS – providing a range of engineering, production support, maintenance management and industrial gas turbine overhaul and repair services to the oil and gas, and power generation industries worldwide.

Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce


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Northern Star Business Awards 2013 Winners Review  
Northern Star Business Awards 2013 Winners Review  

Read all about the winners of the AGCC 2013 Northern Star Business Awards