Business Articles

  • All(193)
  • Business Commentary(26)
  • Business Start-up Support(13)
  • Featured Business(73)
  • Financial Support(8)
  • Marketing Support(14)
10 February 2014

SFA National Small Business Awards 2014: Finalists Showcase

Posted By: AIB Business

Following an intensive judging process, 38 companies were recently short-listed as finalists in the SFA National Small Business Awards 2014.  On 4th February, the SFA held an event to showcase these successful companies in the Printworks Conference Centre, Dublin Castle.  This event highlighted the entrepreneurship, innovation and achievements of small enterprises in Ireland.  We would like to congratulate our customers for being award finalists in the following categories:



Laois Sawmills

Laois Sawmills Limited is based on the outskirts of Portlaoise and is a state-of-the-art sawmill processing 100,000 tonnes of log material annually. Currently employing 42 people, Laois Sawmills endeavours to provide high quality products, a reliable service and a competitive price. The company’s sawmills process logs into a high quality finished product, whilst its wood pellet and wood chip plant – under the Greenwood Flag – handles sawdust and woodchip by-products to produce wood pellets and dried woodchip. Laois Sawmills also produces fencing products and, through Laois Garden World, sells its own products along with a wide range of complementary products.



Spectac International

Established in 1986, Spectac International is a leading stainless steel manufacturing company specialising in the designing, manufacturing and installation of stainless steel vessels, tanks and turn-key solutions in the Brewing, Distilling, Food & Beverage, Chemical and Pharmaceutical industries. The company’s turnover in 2013 reached €3.2 million, and it aims to achieve double this figure in 2014. Spectac International currently serves Ireland, the UK and Europe, and it is the only manufacturer in Ireland of complete Brew Houses for the Brewing industry.




Temp Technology

Temp Technology is a Limerick-based company that offers Combined Heat & Power (CHP) on-site generation and Building Energy Management Systems (EMS). Established in 1986, the company initially concentrated on EMS, and in 1991 it manufactured and installed the first small-scale CHP Unit in Ireland. Since then, Temp Technology has managed over 200 EMS and 160 CHP installations in Ireland.




Timbertrove is an award-winning, 100% Irish-owned, family-run business with over 25 years’ experience in the design, manufacturing and installation of top quality timber garden products.  Homeowner requirements for additional space, together with an increase in leisure time and gardening activity, continues to drive the demand for Timbertrove’s quality products. Customers typically engage at the design stage of their developments, which enables the company to reflect their specific requirements. Situated in the foothills of the Dublin Mountains, overlooking Dublin Bay, Timbertrove’s new Country Store & Café serves fresh homemade food at a retail destination that is attracting thousands of new customers.



Food and Drink

Eight Degrees Brewing

Located in the beautiful Ballyhoura region of Ireland, Eight Degrees Brewing Company makes modern interpretations of traditional Irish ale and lager styles, providing distinctive malt and hop characteristics. The results are a range of full flavoured, tasty ales made from natural ingredients. The company’s beers have received rave reviews in the national and international media.




Keohane Seafoods*

Keohane Seafoods is a family-run business based in Cork. The company was set up in 2010 by father & son, Michael and Colman Keohane.  They spotted a gap in the market and were the first company in Europe to produce a microwavable skin-filmed seafood range. This range can be microwaved in the pack, from fresh or frozen, and is steam cooked for optimum health. The company currently employ 45 staff at its 20,000 square foot facility in Cork. Keohane Seafoods supplies all the major retail outlets in Ireland, and has secured a deal with Tesco UK.  The company produces an average of 30,000 units per day and had a turnover of €11 million in 2013.

* Also nominated in the Innovator of the Year and the Small Business Exporter categories



Urban Picnic

Urban Picnic is a boutique catering company with a vibrant approach to managing restaurants in workplace locations. The team at Urban Picnic set out to do everything to the best of their ability today and then try even harder tomorrow. This approach has enabled the company to improve since its foundation and will continue to push it further into the future. The team are passionate about sourcing, cooking and serving the best food for their clients, their staff and guests. Their service standards are second to none and they are firmly committed to creating an enjoyable, positive experience for all those with whom they work.




Champions Travel Ltd

Champions Travel Ltd, based in Letterkenny, Co. Donegal, is unique to the Irish market as it is the only official supplier of Premier League hospitality packages, which come directly from the clubs.  It is currently the largest agent in the world at Chelsea and the second largest agent at Arsenal. This gives Champions Travel the ability to offer client packages cheaper, on a match by match basis, than the clubs can offer them. With sales up 29% for the last quarter of 2013 (vs. Q4 2012), Champions Travel is forecasting a turnover of €5.5 million in 2014.




Horizon designs and delivers manufacturing processes for large organisations. The team focuses on process excellence, engineering and quality systems. Specialising in Track and Trace, Value Engineering and Manufacturing Systems, Horizon has developed from a regional service company to one servicing clients in UK/Ireland, Europe and US. As finalists in the Irish Exporters Association’s 2013 Exporter of the Year Awards, Horizon was awarded significant aid funding from Enterprise Ireland for its R&D programme. Located in Dublin, Mayo and Antwerp, Horizon employs 35 people.




Standun is a unique shopping destination in the West of Ireland.  Established over 65 years ago, it is now in its third generation and has developed from a small two-bedroom bungalow selling groceries into a large department store. Standun has a long-standing reputation for stocking the finest in clothing and gifts from both Irish and international brands, whilst showcasing a fine mix of traditional and contemporary products that complement one another. Standun is located 20 minutes from Galway city and attracts both tourists and locals with its variety of products and its cozy café.



Outstanding Small Business

Castlewood House Dingle

Since Brian and Helen opened their Boutique style property in 2005, the name of Castlewood House has become synonymous with style and sophistication. This award-winning Boutique Guesthouse in Co. Kerry has created an oasis of calm within a few minutes’ walk to the marina area of Dingle town. Every effort has been made to ensure that guests get the very best Dingle has to offer, and the house is designed to make utmost advantage of the fabulous views of Dingle Bay. All areas of the house are elegant and sophisticated, with an eclectic mix of old and new. Timeless antique pieces and a stunning art collection make Castlewood House a feast for the senses.


Celtic Rider Motorcycle Rental and Tours

Celtic Rider Motorcycle Rental & Tours was formed in 2007 to promote motorcycle tourism in Ireland. The company has grown each year and its self-guided tour options, with routes and accommodation downloaded to Garmin GPS, have proved very successful. Founded and run by experienced motorcyclists, Celtic Rider understands the needs of its fellow adventure riders from overseas and always strives to achieve a very fluid touring experience for them.



Chimney Draught Stop Limited

Chimney Draught Stop provide an award winning, fully patented heat solution guaranteed to save you at least 15% on your annual heating bills.  Installing a Chimney Draught Stop allows householders to safely close off their open chimney when the fire is unlit, thereby retaining all their valuable central heating and eliminating draughts.  It allows you to easily light your fire whenever you want.  
Installed nationwide, since 2009, from only €250, Chimney Draught Stop is maintenance free and comes with a five year guarantee.  They are SEAI registered, BS certified and the savings achieved are independently verified.  




Monaghan Music & Piano Centre

Monaghan Music & Piano Centre is a family-run business and now one of the largest retailers and wholesalers of musical instruments and pianos in Ireland. They sell everything, from a plectrum to a concert grand, and their flagship product – the Steinhoven piano – is designed to their own specifications. The company has grown steadily by sourcing the best manufacturing companies, matching quality with affordability, and looking after customers’ needs at home and abroad.   




The Blessington Bookstore and Coffee Shop

The Blessington Bookstore is an independent bookstore near the beautiful lakes in West Wicklow, where the personal touch makes all the difference. The Readers’ Panel provides individual reviews, helping fellow book-lovers discover books that are worth their time. Regulars enjoy quality, locally-roasted coffee and home-made scones and cakes – relaxing in the warm atmosphere of the bookstore. The growing range of gluten-free cakes, wraps and daily hotpot are becoming very popular. Blessington Bookstore’s passion speaks volumes.




Energy & Environmental Sustainability


VOYA advanced skin care products are created by blending wild seaweed with the finest organic ingredients and pure essential oils from around the globe. In line with VOYA’s commitment to the local environment and drawing on generations of marine knowledge, every single strand of seaweed used in its products is selected by sight and harvested by hand along the sustainably managed pristine shores of west Ireland. Seaweed naturally cleanses and purifies your skin, helping to improve its suppleness and elasticity. It helps to reduce the signs of ageing by toning, smoothing, moisturising and stimulating skin cells. VOYA products are formulated to deeply nourish your skin and aid its natural ability to heal and repair. For beautifully soft skin, discover the restorative power of wild organic seaweed.




Small Business Exporter of the Year

Ireland’s Eye Knitwear

When Ireland’s Eye Knitwear started out, it was very much a family business – and that’s even more true today! To date, no less than a grandfather, father, mother, three brothers, two sisters and eight grandchildren have been involved with the company. Over the course of the past forty years, this native Dublin family has worked tirelessly to develop the company into a leading international knitwear brand – aided and abetted by a talented and committed workforce, many of whom have been with the company in excess of 20 years. Today Ireland’s Eye knitwear is sold in premium and heritage stores globally. No matter where you may find yourself in the world, you can be wearing a piece of knitwear inspired by the craggy windswept landscape of Ireland’s Eye - the tiny island off the Dublin coast that lent its name to this company.




Retronix Semiconductor Limited

Retronix Semiconductor is one of the most innovative and effective third-party suppliers to the Semiconductor industry. The company offers a unique set of services aimed at reducing costs and improving efficiencies.  Services vary from complete wafer fabrication equipment relocations to flexible labour solutions for customers.

To complement its field operations, Retronix Semiconductor has established a cleanroom facility in Ireland to offer customers space for external operations within Europe where they can facilitate equipment refurbishment, equipment training and also specialised parts cleaning services.




Topform has manufactured laminate kitchen worktops in Gort, Co. Galway for over 37 years. As well as supplying the Irish market, 55% of its products are exported to the UK and, more recently, Australia. Topform selects the best patterns and textures from around the world to provide the broadest range of worktops on offer anywhere. Topform deploys the most modern high-tech machinery to offer a customised solution. The company is committed to new product development, with an aggressive programme of research & development, and is considered by clients to be the best Creative Worksurface Solution provider in the market.


*Also nominated in the Manufacturing category



Emerging New Business

Agile Networks

Agile Networks designs, builds and supports IT networks for many of Ireland’s leading public and private sector companies. With a unique operational model, best of breed portfolio, and technical expertise around complex networking, Agile Networks supports 50 of the best known companies in Ireland across more than 900 sites – over 1 million people use networks supported by Agile Networks. With revenues of €4.7M in 2013 and growth continuing at over 100% year-on-year, Agile Networks has won multiple awards, ranging from local Enterprise Board to international vendor awards and, most recently, the Ruban d’Honneur as one of the top 100 businesses in the European Business Awards.




Go Explore Hostel & Sailor’s Bar / Restaurant, Clare Island

Go Explore Hostel & Sailor’s Bar / Restaurant provides a platform for adventure activity, field-based learning, excellent fresh seafood, traditional music & dance, heritage & culture. The company’s strength comes from its location – an island of immense beauty and serenity – and its ability to bring all that the island has to offer together under one roof. The island has an extensive programme of events throughout the year.  Trading for two years with increased turnover from €150,000 in year one to €250,000 in year two, the company expects turnover to exceed €300,000 in 2014, and to add to its 12 seasonal staff.

Website: /


The SFA National Small Business Awards 2013 will take place on 6th March 2014.

For more information, see


Subscribe to AIB's SME Newsletter

Please be aware that all of the views expressed in this Blog are purely the personal views of the authors and commentators (including those working for AIB as members of the AIB website team or in any other capacity) and are based on their personal experiences and knowledge at the time of writing.

Some of the links above bring you to external websites. Your use of an external website is subject to the terms of that site.

Allied Irish Banks, p.l.c. is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland. Copyright Allied Irish Banks, p.l.c. 1995.