Sunderland winner remembers amazing night of triumph at Echo Portfolio Awards

A company boss has told of the feelgood factor which swept through his workers after his firm scooped our Portfolio Awards' most prestigious title.

Thursday, 2nd August 2018, 6:00 am
Updated Friday, 3rd August 2018, 11:53 am
Representatives of Ashford Orthodontics with their trophy.

Ashford Orthodontics from Sunderland became the Overall Business of the Year at last year’s competition and managing director Sean Thompson admitted to being “gobsmacked.”

But the biggest effect, he said, was the way it gave staff such a huge boost.

“They were so proud and delighted at what happened. They had worked really hard and it was lovely that people had shown appreciation in what they had done,” said Sean.

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“It was huge for us and that transcended throughout the year. People could see the effect it had.”

Ashford was also crowned Medium Business of the Year after judges heard about the dynamic and progressive specialised orthodontic laboratory, which was then in its 17th year of continuous growth.

It had become the largest and one of the most respected orthodontic laboratories in the UK, moving to a new 12,000 sq ft state-of-the-art facility in 2016 and employing 35 staff in the process.

The citation for the company said: “The judges chose the winner because it was the story which stood out for them. It was the story they remembered most.”

Judges also praised the way it was a good news story for Sunderland, a story of a business starting in Sunderland with Sunderland people, and then expanding in the city.

Sean remembered the Portfolio Awards evening vividly, saying: “We thought we were in with a shout for the medium business of the year title but I was absolutely gobsmacked when we won the overall title.

“There are 20-odd awards and to win that one, it was fantastic. We were genuinely shocked.”

Since the awards, turnover has gone up 37% and Ashford is about to take on four more members of staff.

Sean urged businesses to enter this year’s competition and said: “It was the first time we had been in for it and it felt like going to a casino for the first time and winning.

“It was a lovely night. We took two tables and everyone had a chance to get their gladrags on.”

Search is on for this year’s entries

Now it’s back to the search for successors to Ashford Orthodontics and the other winners.

Once again, we want to hear from the people who make the area tick on the business front but we can only do that if we receive your nominations.

Individuals, businesses themselves - in fact anyone can put forward a nomination for this year’s awards for a company that they feel is deserving of recognition.

There are plenty of well known categories from previous years such as small, medium and large business of the year, as well as exporter of the year.

Or you might want to enter sections such as apprentice of the year, technology of the year or best green business.

Whatever your choice, make sure you get those entries in so that we can honour the very best that Wearside has to offer.

Yet again, we have fantastic backers on board to help make the awards a success.

Make it Sunderland is again our headline sponsor, and will sponsor our overall Business of the Year Award, as well as a Lifetime Achievement award, which is in the sponsor’s gift.

Make It Sunderland is also backing the contribution social enterprises make to the city in the Social Enterprise Award.

Other sponsors are Northumbrian Water, Gentoo, Stagecoach in Sunderland, The Bid, ResQ, BIC, Maxim Brewery, Sunderland College, Bradley Hall, and PG Legal Commercial Solicitors.

•Get nominating and let’s make this a year of celebration of the best in Wearside business.

To nominate, post your nominations to Lynn Wild, Sunderland Echo, Alexander House, Rainton Bridge Business Park, Houghton-le- Spring, Sunderland. DH4 5RA.

Alternatively, you can email [email protected].