Limerick leads the way at prestigious All-Ireland business awards

Sarah Keyes and Brian O’Callaghan of Ecostraws (c) receiving an All-Ireland Business Foundation One to Watch Award at Croke Park from Dr Briga Hynes of the Kemmy Business School at the University of Limerick and Minister of State for Trade, Employment and Business, Pat Breen. Pic Conor McCabe.

The Limerick business community led the way as the All-Ireland Business Foundation celebrated its first Christmas Awards ceremony last week.

John McNamara received the Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to industry and commerce in Ireland at Mallow Street’s Business Cost Management.

And Hospital-based Ecostraws, won the One to Watch Award for their work on reducing the proliferation of plastic.

Five Limerick companies were among the first businesses in the country to achieve a new quality mark signifying that they meet the highest standards of service and trust at the event in Croke Park.

They were all awarded the coveted All-Ireland Business All-Star accreditation – an independently verified standard mark for indigenous businesses, based on rigorous selection criteria.

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The companies included Castletroy’s Roselawn House Office Services, Newcastlewest-based The Happy Candle and Wise Celt Candle range and Data and Storage Management of Annacotty.

Also accredited were Limerick health food producer Juspy and All-Star hurler Ollie Moran’s Financial Services company.

The awards and accreditation are overseen by the All-Ireland Business Foundation, whose adjudication panel is chaired by Dr Briga Hynes of the Kemmy Business School at the University of Limerick and Kieran Ring, CEO of the Global Institute of Logistics.

Dr Hynes said the accreditation, which is now held by 200 firms, is needed by the thousands of small and medium businesses out there who operate to their own standards, but have nothing to measure them by.

“It provides very important credible and transparent benchmarking that hasn’t been available up to now, allowing companies to very clearly understand where they are versus their competitors,” she said.

“We evaluate a company’s background, trustworthiness and performance, and we speak to customers, employees and vendors.

“We also anonymously approach the company as a customer and report back on the experience.

“The business goes through at least two interviews and is scored on every part of the process against set metrics.

“Internally, this process gives confidence to the organisation, allows them to leverage their advantages and identify areas that they need to improve in, particularly in innovation and product development.”

The All-Ireland Business Foundation will be responsible for identifying and accrediting best-in-class Irish businesses, overseeing both the awards and ongoing accreditation, promoting peer dialogue, in addition to hosting the All-Ireland Business Summit on May 1 and 2 next year.

It will also create an active community of progressive businesses and ambitious business leaders who work together and openly share knowledge.

At the Croke Park presentation event last week, Minister of State for Trade, Employment and Business, Pat Breen, said the commitment to quality of the small to medium enterprise sector was critical to the Irish economy.

“Ireland has the fastest growing economy in Europe and one of the fastest rates of business start-ups,” said Minister Breen.

“Small to medium enterprises make up 99% of Irish businesses and their importance to the Irish economy can never be understated.

“I am very proud of all the businesses here today, their commitment to quality, as evidenced by gaining coveted All-Ireland Business All-Star accreditation, will ensure Irish SMEs continue to grow.”

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