Soaring sales, inventions that save lives, excellence in niche industries and firms that have long family ties were among successes as Wigan Business Awards reached their climax.
Hundreds of guests squeezed into the DW Stadium hospitality facilities for a gala dinner hosted by Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce. BBC presenter Andy Crane was again MC for an evening which saw firms triumph in eight categories.
Related: 15 pictures from the Wigan Business Awards 2019
And It was Standish-based Bitrez, acclaimed for developing specialist polymers, landed the title of Business of the Year title.
Reach and Rescue, headquartered in Marus Bridge and producing equipment that saves humans and wildlife from water, took the laurels in the Small and Medium Business of the Year class.
Wet wipe manufacturer Nice-Pak International, based in Westwood Park, won the Something To Shout About Award 2019, for its innovative, sustainable wipes.
And Wigan Youth Zone came away with the We’re Backing Wigan trophy for helping to make a positive impact on borough life.
Kelly Lowe, boss of Next Level Learning which helps students with special educational needs, was named Entrepreneur of the Year.
DASCO Construction, which works in the rail and social housing sectors, walked away with the Family Business of the Year award, while Greenmount Projects, which undertakes construction activities in commercial, industrial, ecclesiastical, educational, health care, care facilities and leisure parks, won Start-up Enterprise.
And Digital and Creative Business of the Year was security provider Keysec 24.
The attendees enjoyed a three-course dinner and listened to several guest speakers before the winners were announced and brought up on stage to receive their trophies.
It was difficult to avoid conversation in the room and on stage concerning the two big burning subjects of the day: Brexit and the general election, both of which, it was feared, were distracting political parties from focusing on other key matters affecting the business community among others.
Chris Fletcher, Greater Manchester Chamber’s campaigns director, said: “It is crucial that we don’t get afflicted with short termism and see the election as just another chance to have a say on Brexit. It has to be much bigger than that.
“Whatever happens next with Brexit and whoever forms the next government this country needs substantial investment and a overhaul of a lot of things to make the business environment better.
“Going right back to the immediate aftermath of the Brexit vote we said then it was vital that government didn’t become obsessed with Brexit at the expense of what needed doing to make sure the domestic economy remained strong.
“Unfortunately I think this is just what has happened.
“Whatever the result in December the Chamber shall carry on campaigning for what business needs – there’s still no obvious solution to the skills problems many of you face; transport is still a major issue; the business rates system is still there and operating as it has always done and business is increasingly being asked to do its bit in the drive to zero carbon.
“I do think business is more than capable of doing this but it isn’t up to us alone there has to be willing partners and that starts in Westminster, with politicians and civil servants that understand what its like to run a business and the day to day challenge that all of you face.
“And at the Chamber we can put the evidence, what you tell us, in front of the decision makers and argue your case.
"And that’s why nights like this matter so much.
“It’s a chance to come together, as I’ve written in my welcome tonight, customers, colleagues and indeed competitors to celebrate all that’s good in business and all that’s good here in Wigan.”
For further coverage see the eight-page section in the Wigan Observer.