Robotic & Drive Services Ltd, of Forest Park, Mullingar are the worthy winners of this year’s Westmeath Enterprise Board (WEB ) firm of the year.
The four-year-old, super hi-tech firm assembles installs and services robotic arms and safety systems to industry, as well as a selection of variable speed drive motors for associated machinery which are now used in most manufacturing industries.
RD Services, who employ three full-time and one part-time members of staff, were presented their award by Bryan Dobson from RTE.
Speaking for the firm, Ken McNevin said they felt honoured and humbled by the award.
“To be honest, when myself and Stephen [Nolan] set it up, we probably thought we were better than we were. We were quite green,” he said, before praising the WEB for the help and advice it was able to offer in the ensuing years.
RD Services won this years award ahead of Critical Healthcare Ltd from Kilbeggan, a nine-year-old firm specializing in the manufacture and installation of oxygen pipelines in ambulances, as well as general medical supplies.
The business, which employs eight full-time people, is the brainchild of Seamus Reilly and Dr Ann Cusack, and also installs emergency equipment for the HSE.
The remainder of the shortlist comprised four Mullingar firms and one from Athlone.
The award for best woman in business went to Mairin Gallagher and her International College of Beauty on Mount Street, Mullingar, which employs six staff and offers City & Guilds-accredited and CIBTAC courses in hair and beauty.
Mullingar’s own Ms Patricia Callan, director of the Small Firms Association (SFA ) was a bullish guest speaker, and offered some hope for the challenges facing her 250,000 members in the future.
“The best business people to come are the ones that learn from their mistakes,” she said.
“Never mind NAMA. We know it’s the individual lending officer in the small room that’s key to all small businesses in the country,” she said.
She pointed out that in a recent survey of the SFAs, 10 per cent of respondents said they will grow this year.
“We expect 13,000 new businesses to start up next year and that was the stable number we were always at pre-tiger and not including the building bubble.
“If there is one thing the Government should realise is, you can’t cut everything We need a national entrepreneur policy.”
Ms Callan also managed little digs at the media (our schadenfraude at the downturn ) and the HSE (late payment ).
Other nominees included former Olympian Cormac Finnerty’s Mind’s I Graphic Design, the Keegan sisters’ 5th Avenue Face & Body Clinic from Mullingar, and the MOHH Hairdressing Academy in Athlone.
The final nominee was Jackie and Bernard Flynn’s Mullingar Crystal Ltd, which was notable in that their ability to engrave a photograph onto their crystal trophies really caught the compéres eye.
“I didn’t know you could do that,” said the man who sees everything on the news.