09 Oct 2014
The Chamber team produces over 100 events each year but the biggest is always the Glasgow Business Awards. We've been growing the Awards quite steadily over the past five years and this time passed another milestone - filling the Hilton Glasgow ballroom with 700 guests.
Whilst we aim to make the night a celebration of business achievement, we also want to help grow confidence in the health of the Glasgow economy. It's a party, but with a serious message about the role business plays in delivering economic prosperity.
The Bank of Scotland's award for the most outstanding business this year went to Golden Charter, which has grown swiftly into the UK's market leader in funeral plan provision. The company's headquarters in Bearsden employs around 240 from a total workforce of over 400.
I met with CEO Ronnie Wayte and Chairman Magnus Swanson quite recently and it's perfectly clear that Golden Charter has become an example of that much sought after phenomenon - the Scottish-headquartered high growth innovative company.
Funeral financial planning may not be a market that captures much attention in Scottish economic strategies - although it is clearly a strand in financial services - but the Golden Charter team has shown just how to go about grasping a mature, conventional market and shaking into a completely new one.
Thriving in a declining market is another matter and our President Vic Emery presented the Lifetime Achievement Award to John Watson OBE, who has had 40 years of success in the printing industry. John steered his family printing company - John Watson & Company - through what John in his speech described as 40 years of the most fundamental change in the industry since Gutenberg invented moveable type printing in the 1430s.
The company specialises in designing and supplying labels and packaging for the whisky industry, where the elaborately coloured and embossed labels are a vital part of the product branding. You might just choose a bottle based on one of John's labels.
When I last took a tour around John's factory, he had just commissioned a huge 10-colour printer from a German company demonstrating his own confidence in the strength of his business. That confidence was rewarded last year when John reluctantly took the decision to sell to the US Multi-Color Corporation and whilst John has now retired, his two sons continue inside the MCC organisation. MCC have the investment clout to build on what John and his family have achieved and bringing the weight of US capital to Glasgow is John's legacy for the future.
These are just two examples of the stories thrown up by the GBAs. There are many more; Glasgow Airport's investment in service standards through their customer service charter, Glasgow City Marketing Bureau's truly outstanding process for creating the People Make Glasgow brand, Glasgow Bike Station's work in recycling of bicycles as an investment in sustainable development, Freedom Brands' success with its GOCOCO health drink products and M Squared Lasers Ltd's impressive story of rapid growth in the manufacture of lasers and photonics systems.
Between 20 and 30 years ago the business landscape of Glasgow was much less compelling. The picture was too often of family companies going to the wall, familiar corporate names struggling with market changes and a dearth of new start enterprises. Running a Glasgow Business Awards wouldn't have been nearly as easy as it is today.
Thanks go to all at the Bank of Scotland and the Evening Times for working so closely with us to deliver the GBAs, and to all the category sponsors and in-kind sponsors who make such a difference to the quality and gravitas of the event.
Check out the details of all the winners on the Chamber website. And next year why don't you make sure your company is a possible winner by watching out for the entry details in the spring.