Published: 05:00, 21 October 2021
| Updated: 14:03, 04 November 2021
The winners of this year's Kent Excellence in Business Awards – better known as KEiBA – have been revealed.
The annual event was cancelled last year due to the pandemic but has returned for 2021, with 13 winners crowned victors in fiercely fought categories.
A new category, Outstanding Covid Response, recognised how companies responded to the health crisis.
Winner of the Outstanding Contribution to Business in Kent this year was Bill Ferris who spearheaded the revival of the Historic Dockyard Chatham before retiring last year.
He said of the award: "It genuinely took my breath away as I wasn’t expecting it."
Other winners of Kent Excellence in Business Awards (KEiBA) 2021 are:
Commitment to the Community
Winner: East Kent Foot Care
Finalists: BSL Community, FAR Skate Foundation
Sponsored by: Golding Homes
Commitment to the Environment
Finalists: Maidstone Distillery, Sleeping Giant Media
Sponsored by: KCC Low Carbon Kent/Bouygues Energies & Services
Employer of the Year
Winner: Modus Construction Consultants
Finalists: HR Go, Reflect Digital
Sponsored by: DWA
Entrepreneur of the Year
Winner: Hectic Lifestyles (trading as NutraDirect)
Finalists: Sharp Relations, Reflect Digital
Sponsored by: Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce/Creaseys
Family Business of the Year
Winner: Team HARD Racing
Finalists: Viking Martime Group, Shepherd Neame, GSE Group
Sponsored by: Gallagher
Large Business of the Year
Winner: Chartway Group
Finalists: Bigjigs Toys, ITL Group
Sponsored by: Pillory Barn
Manufacturer of the Year
Winner: Hectic Lifestyles
Finalists: Circatron, Total Machining Solutions
Sponsored by: University of Greenwich/Locate in Kent
Medium Business of the Year
Winner: Global Associates
Finalists: Hathats Coffe Company, Advance FM
Sponsored by: Kreston Reeves
Outstanding Covid Response
Winner: Shepherd Neame
Finalists: Curd & Cure, BSL Community, BIS Services
Sponsored by: KM Media Group/Kent County Council
Small Business of the Year
Winner: Kesson Physiotherapy
Finalists: Convert Energy, Dunk Cookies, Snowy's Canine Therapy Centre
Sponsored by: Kent Further Education
Success in International Trade
Winner: Bigjigs Toys
Finalists: Hornby Hobbies, Viking Maritime Group
Sponsored by: Crowe
Technology Business of the Year
Winner: eXroid Technology
Finalists: ITL Group, Bedfont Scientific
Sponsored by: Cripps Pemberton Greenish/University of Kent
Valuing Disability of the Year
Winner: Caremark Thanet
Finalists: Dovetail Games, Kent Community Health NHS Trust
Sponsored by: bemix/The Education People
Full details for all the winners including just why they won the awards can be found in a special pull-out supplement running in our newspapers – on sale this week.
Geoff Miles, chairman of judges added: "These awards have always recognised adaptability and resourcefulness, and that has perhaps never been so called upon as it has in the wake of the pandemic.
"KEiBA is traditionally one of the biggest award events in the South East and winning one of these awards can deliver real benefits, both to increased custom and for staff morale.
"The judging process is, as always, thorough and so all those who made the shortlist for these keenly contested categories have demonstrated an excellence which impressed us all."
KCC’s cabinet member for economic development, Cllr Derek Murphy, added: "The challenges of the last 18 months have revealed just how flexible and resilient so many of the county's businesses are.
"They have been forced to think on their feet and in many cases pivot their offering in order to not only just survive but thrive.
"They provide the economic backbone of Kent and not only are we proud to recognise their achievements, but extend huge congratulations to all of those firms, big and small, which have come through this unique period in our history.
"The KEiBAs are something we are immensely proud to support and we raise a glass to all the winners and shortlisted entries for going above and beyond."
The normal gala awards night this year did not take place due to the pandemic.