Our Year in Review
“And now we welcome the New Year. Full of things that have never been!”
Wise words from Rainer Maria Rilke, the renowned Austrian poet. As we enter the New Year, we do so with renewed motivation, wishing for success in all that we do. For the team at ESF, this is no exception, however it would be wrong of me not to reflect on our fantastic journey through 2018 first.
Our year got off to a great start with the announcement that we had been shortlisted in two categories in the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) awards, alongside many other successful local businesses. The categories were ‘Business Exporter of the Year’ and ‘Business and Product Innovation’, both of which we were delighted to win.
Due to our success at the regional awards, we were automatically put forward to represent Northern Ireland at the national awards ceremony, which took place in London in May. It was an honour for us to represent our region at the event and even more so when we were crowned winner of the ‘Best in Business and Product Innovation’ category, for our newly launched Stellar Solar Smart Bench.
Luckily, the awards success didn’t stop there for ESF and we were recognised in the Belfast Telegraph, Aer Lingus TakeOff Foundation and Made in Northern Ireland awards for our export success. Whilst we didn’t win all awards, we did take home the award for ‘Excellence in Exporting’ at the Belfast Telegraph awards. A very proud day for the team highlighting how far our company has grown in its five short years.
Fast forward to April when we launched our brand new website, detailing our comprehensive product range and completed projects. As a result of the launch, we welcomed over 3,500 new visitors to our page in the first month! (You can check it out here if you haven’t already www.worldofesf.com).
On to June and one of the highlights of my year, both personally and professionally, was when ESF was invited to Her Majesty The Queen’s birthday party in Rome (below) where we had the opportunity to present our Stellar Bench to attendees. This was a once in a lifetime opportunity, which I got to share with my daughter Courtney and one that will stay with me for a very long time.
Following our trip to Rome, it was back on the plane, this time to America to officially open our first ever American Office in Washington! Again, another pinch-myself moment but one that will allow us to better assist our growing American customer base.
Whilst we were in America, our award-winning Stellar Bench was also launched in New York City by Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke as part of the Smart Cities campaign. The bench generated a lot of interest from those attending with some further enquiries, so here’s hoping 2019 brings further success for the Stellar Bench in America.
2018 also saw us attend a number of industry exhibitions including DEAL Middle East, Specifi, IAAPA and ASLA. These events are always hugely beneficial to ESF, reigniting our passion for what we do and connecting us with key people in the industry.
In October, we announced the collaboration of the Smartflower Solar system, an all-in-one solar system that provides clean energy for your home or business. This move makes ESF the exclusive supplier of Smartflower in Ireland. (You can have a look at the Smartflower here: https://worldofesf.com/smart-flower)
Some of our team also had the opportunity to join the Northern Ireland Chamber on their trade missions to Glasgow and Manchester, as part of the #LearnGrowExcel initiative. Both very advantageous trips, enabling local firms to exploit opportunities in larger cities within Great Britain.
With all the uncertainty around Brexit, it’s difficult to know what 2019 will bring, but in November, I had the opportunity to visit 10 Downing Street with the FSB (below). As well as meeting the Prime Minister, Theresa May, I made a very brief appearance on Sky News! Watch out Beth Rigby!
I also met with the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, during his visit to Belfast, as well as Dr Liam Fox, who visited Ulster University in November to celebrate international trade, exports and investment. During the visit, I had the opportunity to discuss ideas with local businesses and senior government officials. Another great opportunity thanks to FSB.
2018 is definitely up there for ESF as being the year of incredible projects. From designing and supplying two projects for a major theme park in Hong Kong, four projects in UAE including Dubai Arena (below) and Global village, as well as projects in Malta and closer to home at Stormont Buildings, it’s definitely been a very busy year!
I finished off 2018 by joining Dr Wendy Austin (below) on BBC Inside Business to discuss the many aspects of running a business. A journey that at times, can be extremely tough, but as I sit back and reflect on the achievements of last year, I’m grateful for the hard work we have put in that eventually, all pays off.
I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a very happy and prosperous New Year.