The founder of an engineering company which diversified successfully from fishing-industry work was named Entrepreneur of the Year last night at the Grampian Awards for Business Enterprise.
The honour went to Alfie Cheyne, chief executive of Ace Winches, which has sites at Montbletton, near Banff, and Turriff.
The firm, started in 1993, specialises in the design, manufacture and hire of hydraulic winches and marine deck machinery for offshore oil and gas, marine and renewable-energy markets.
The workforce has now grown to 130 people as a result of Ace landing work in new markets overseas.
Mr Cheyne, also a steam-engine enthusiast, was identified by the judges as a natural entrepreneur who spotted an opportunity and was not afraid to go after it.
The businessman was one of nine award winners at the dinner in the Ardoe House Hotel, near Aberdeen.
The event is organised by Enterprise North East Trust (Enet) and sponsored by the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) plus Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire councils.
Enet chief executive Gary McEwan said: “Supporting entrepreneurial spirit is our key objective.
“The awards are the perfect platform to celebrate talented individuals and businesses that are making their mark on the north-east economy.
“This year’s winners couldn’t be more different, however, they share the same ingredients required to be successful in business: tenacity, enthusiasm, commitment and innovation. It is this winning combination that will help to lead the economy out of recession.”
Mark Gall, regional director for business and commercial banking in the north of Scotland for RBS, said: “We were extremely impressed by the lengths that some of our finalists have gone to make their business dreams become reality.
“They are truly an inspiration to us all and clearly show that, even in difficult times, there are opportunities to be seized.”
Promising New Business: Entier of Aberdeen, an offshore caterer.
Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year: Sian Ajose of Soul-POLE of Aberdeen, a pole-dancing and fitness school.
The Alick Buchanan-Smith Spirit of Enterprise Award: ITF, of Aberdeen, the oil and gas industry technology facilitator.
Wood Group Award for Innovation: Aberdeen oil service company Flexlife.
Employer of the Year: AquaTerra Solutions, of Aberdeen, a rope-access specialist for decommissioning and integrity services.
Business Success Under Three Years: Abbeyfield Lodge Children’s Unit, Fraserburgh, a provider of residential care for young people.
Business Success Over Three Years Award: Active Sustainable Energy Systems, of Aberdeen, an installer of energy-efficient ventilation systems.
Entrepreneurial Supporter of the Year: Bob Keiller, the chief executive of PSN, an Aberdeen-based energy service group.
Special commendation: Grant Keenan of Turriff-based Keenan Recycling, a finalist in the Entrepreneur of the Year category.