The effects of the recession on local business should come as no surprise to anyone, yet unemployment and business closings are still startling. In fact, it wasn’t too long ago that the economy was riding high and Bermuda was experiencing an economic boom like never before, but those days could not seem further away.

There is one clear advantage to a tough economy, though, and that is when sales are low, businesses show genuine customer appreciation. Competitive pricing, attentive service and a simple “thank you” often prove the difference between survival and defeat in hard economic times.

We at The Bermudian are proud to acknowledge local businesses that are not only surviving the recession but are doing so because they recognise the importance of their customers. Our 9th Annual Product & Service Awards is a salute to the businesses keeping Bermuda’s economy alive.

We profusely thank our judges, who exhibited their varied expertise in choosing this year’s winners. We appreciate their hard work and dedication in making this year’s Product & Service Awards a success.

OUR JUDGES:

Jamillah Lodge, business development officer, Bermuda Small Business Development Corporation

Debbie Mello, accounts payable administrator, Catlin Insurance Company

Eugene Bassett, network engineer, Bermuda Government

Esther Young, real estate agent, Crisson & Co.

Hal Browne, director of catering, Fairmont Hamilton

OFFICE SUPPLIES

Office supplies are serious business, which is why local business professionals don’t trust just anyone to supply them with pens, computers, wastepaper baskets and everything in between. TOPS (Total Office Products and Systems Ltd., 16 Mill Creek Road, Pembroke, 292-5500, topsltd.bm) is on speed-dial in Bermuda’s most successful businesses simply because they are the best. But it’s not just their impeccable customer service and award-winning products that influenced our judges to give them top honours in this category; it’s their impressive corporate citizenship as well. Generosity in any economy never goes unnoticed!

OFFICE FURNITURE

A stylish corporate environment makes all the difference when stress sets in and the annual report is due. But furnishing even the smallest of offices often feels overwhelming. Our judges agreed that RECON’s (20 Bakery Lane, Pembroke, 296-0005, recon.bm) attentive staff and friendly customer service, coupled with their competitive prices, make purchases an effortless and enjoyable experience.

COMPUTER SALES

In a tough economy, getting more bang for the buck is everyone’s top priority, and the guys at Red Laser (8 Bakery Lane, Pembroke, 296-6400, redlaser.bm) offer the best deals on the island. Whatever their competitor’s price may be, Red Laser will beat it. Our judges couldn’t praise them enough, saying, “They recycle, deliver, are efficient and best of all, offer products at a price people can afford.”

IT SUPPORT

Sure, you can crunch numbers, lead an important conference call and put together an impressive presentation covering last-quarter sales, but when it comes to technical malfunctions, you’re wise enough to call Kevin Bowles, better known as The Computer Guy (505-0077, computerguy.bm). Offering a wide range of services and a shining reputation, it’s no wonder why The Computer Guy is a unanimous favourite among our judges and the local business community for the second year running.

INTERNET SERVICE PROVIDER

It wasn’t only their meticulously designed new headquarters on Par-la-Ville Road that convinced our judges to give North Rock Communications (Par-la-Ville Road, Pembroke, 540-2700, northrock.bm) top honours in this category, it was also their consistent service. North Rock Internet accounts have been a common ISP address since North Rock opened their doors and plugged in their Internet cables over a decade ago. With bandwidth on demand, a 99.99 percent business-customer uptime guarantee and 24-hour network monitoring and management, North Rock’s service leaves competitors behind.

CELL PHONE PROVIDER

Even the merger of Bermuda’s two largest cellular providers couldn’t slow Digicel (Washington Mall, Church Street, Hamilton, 500-5611, digicelbermuda.com) down. Their hip, cool and young vibe has invaded our island’s corporate sector, a demographic M3 Wireless (now merged with Cellular One) once grasped tightly. Digicel’s innovation and attention to detail have Bermuda’s business professionals smiling.

TRAVEL AGENCY

Bermuda is competing globally more than ever before, and with so many business professionals travelling, local travel agencies work hard to make sure international business clients arrive and depart safely, comfortably and on time. Our judges had no problem selecting Global Travel (52 Reid Street, Hamilton, 296-7200, globaltravelbda.com) as Bermuda’s best travel agency. In addition to Global Travel’s hard work and diligence, our judges are thrilled the company finally made the move into Hamilton. Now businesses need look no further than the City of Hamilton for first-class service.

LEGAL SERVICES

From the time an idea for a new business is conceived, legal issues and paperwork occupy the owner. It’s no simple task keeping up, but with the help of Wakefield Quin (31 Victoria Street, Hamilton, 494-4000, wq.bm) and their star team of corporate lawyers, business is legal and affairs are in order.

ACCOUNTING SERVICES

1, 2, 3, 4...sure, counting is easy, but when it comes time to crunch serious sums, local businesses opt to bring in Ray Jones of FARO Management (504-8310, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ). His professionalism, vast expertise and friendly attitude make him Bermuda’s favourite in accounting services—a top honour considering the array of quality competition.

COURIER

Thanks to modern technology, snail mail is long gone. As geographically isolated as Bermuda is, one-day courier service would have once felt like a phenomenon reserved only for Alfred Hitchcock’s imagination, but to DHL (1 Midsea Lane, Hamilton, 294-4848, dhl.com.bm) it’s a simple reality. DHL works hard to make sending and receiving mail from overseas as easy as possible. Online rates and time quotes coupled with tracking numbers and international call centres mean no matter where in the world your package is, it’s in safe hands with DHL.

ARCHITECT

S.H.Y. Architecture closed its doors in April 2011, but one of its former partners, Juan Smith, refused to let it be the end of his architecture and design career. Smith ventured out on his own, working with former clients and recruiting some new ones along the way. His recent projects have garnered him praise for his sleek and sophisticated design style and his diligent attention to detail, proving that with or without a large firm behind him, Smith will design successfully.

HOTEL FOR BUSINESS TRAVELLERS

Located on a beautiful old Bermudian road amongst blooming tropical flowers and lush greens, Royal Palms Hotel (24 Rosemont Avenue, Pembroke, 292-1854, royalpalms.bm), is our judges’ choice for the best hotel for business travellers. Admittedly, our judges have a hard time each year selecting a winner in this category, probably because Bermuda has an abundance of world-class hotels and guest houses. In the end, it was Royal Palms’s to-die-for location that set it apart from the rest. A short walk from the heart of Hamilton but surrounded by greenery, Royal Palms is the ultimate place to unwind after a long business day.

COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE

Finding good quality and spacious office space in the City of Hamilton for a reasonable price is like finding a needle in a haystack. Luckily, Crisson & Company Ltd. (6 Dundonald Street West, Hamilton, 295-0826, crissonrealestate.com) knows the ins and outs of Bermuda’s real-estate market and find office space at the most competitive prices. Their excellent service and personable staff are the main reasons why they manage a broad range of locations island wide.

RESIDENTIAL REAL ESTATE

Buying, selling and property management is tough during an economic recession, but having a hardworking, diligent team of real-estate agents like Moura & Associates (9 Berry Hill Road, Paget, 236-0737, mouraandassociates.com), working around the clock for you is invaluable. Family owned and run, Moura & Associates are dedicated to finding the right home for local families as well as foreigners settling into Bermuda for the first time.

ADVERTISING AGENCY

Ben Fairn and his Aardvark Communications (2 Midsea Lane, Hamilton, 295-0361, aardvark.bm) team of five are well respected in the business world, managing some of Bermuda’s biggest accounts, including Ariel Re, the Bermuda Telephone Company and MEF Restaurants. Our judges agreed that Fairn is an invaluable asset to the company, and it is his creative and professional leadership that has paved the way for Aardvark’s current and future successes.

WEB DESIGNER

Four score and seven years ago, websites did not exist! In those simpler years, companies relied on mainstream media to get their message across. Nowadays, websites have become a necessity for most businesses, providing instant information about their services to Internet-savvy customers. In this new age, communications companies duke it out to design and manage websites, and competition is fierce. Total Marketing & Communications Ltd. (25 Woodlands Road, Pembroke, 295-4558, totalgroup.bm) has been crowned the web-designing champion for 2011, a title reserved for the best of the best.

GRAPHIC DESIGNER

There’s something to be said for big companies with an abundance of resources, but during tough economic times it’s usually smaller firms that offer better service. Just ask Coral Wells, who owns an independent graphic design company. She has pleased so many clients, our judges were pleased to award her best graphic designer for 2011. Our judges insist her creative eye and approachable personality make her a sure-fire winner in this category.

FUNCTIONING BUSINESS WEBSITE

Some would say that to be a contender in this category your website should have bells and whistles in addition to interesting content and a user-friendly design. However, our winner, Bernews.com, proves that simple is sometimes better. In fact, Bernews is nothing more than a clean blog updated daily with news and events pertinent to Bermuda. So what is it that makes Bernews a hotspot for news and information? Its simplicity, insist our judges. One of our judges even posed the question: “Who doesn’t get up every day and get their news from Bernews?”

PRINTING COMPANY

Talk about variety! Bermuda Blueprinting (20 Bakery Lane, Serpentine Road, Pembroke, 292-2078, bermudablue.com) can print almost anything, including documents, full-size architectural plans, signage, banners and more.  Their impressive portfolio of local work is a shining example of the quality they produce, their efficiency and first-rate customer service.  In fact, our judges unanimously agreed that Bermuda Blueprinting is Bermuda’s best printing company, hands down, no buts about it!

SIGN/BANNER MAKER

New businesses announce their arrival in style with signs designed by Signworx Limited (Suite 201, 15 Bakery Lane, Pembroke, 296-2375, signworxltd.com), a company that has won this category many times in the 15 years they’ve been open. Signworx is without a doubt the most trusted name in sign design, an honour they’ve earned based on their ever-evolving design styles and the diversity in the materials they use. Despite frequent competition from other lesser-known companies, Signworx continues to be Bermuda’s first choice in sign design.

CLIENT LUNCH

Ever heard the saying “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”? That must be the approach staff at Port O Call (87 Front Street, Hamilton, 295-5373, portocall.bm) take toward managing their locally celebrated restaurant. A favourite among business professionals, it is the place to see and be seen and the perfect place to meet clients when a deal needs to be struck.

TAKEOUT LUNCH

All of us have days when we need a break from the office. Although most of us would prefer a trip to Hawaii, eating a takeout lunch from City Café (4 Washington Street, Hamilton, 296-9462, citycafe.bm) in one of Hamilton’s parks can be nerve-calming and stress-relieving. Grab a delicious sandwich, salad or wrap and unwind in a serene, natural environment that couldn’t be further away from occasional office chaos.

FLORAL DESIGNER

In the mood for hydrangeas, peonies, lilies or roses? Flowers by GiMi (37 Front Street, HSBC Harbourview Centre, Hamilton, 297-4464, flowersbygimi.com) creates works of art to satisfy any floral desire. Whether you’re commemorating an office event or sending flowers to a sick employee, Flowers by GiMi will design around any budget or circumstance. Better yet is their membership and corporate services plan, which offers discounts and products not available to regular customers.

CORPORATE GIFTS

Even during a recession, your employees aren’t going to be OK with a simple card in lieu of an actual Christmas gift from the boss they work so hard for. The perfect balance between over-the-top and not-enough can be found in the form of a gift basket from Miles Market (The Waterfront, Pitt’s Bay Road, Hamilton, 295-1234, miles.bm). Choose from fresh fruits, gourmet delights, delicious coffees and, of course, everyone’s favourite, Godiva chocolate! Beautifully wrapped and hand-made, you can personalise each gift basket based on your employees’ preferences.

CORPORATE TRANSPORT

Important people ride in style thanks to CEO Transport (234-4366, limobermuda.com), which our judges pick as best corporate transport service. “Seeing Bermuda from a different perspective” is their slogan, and that’s not hard to do when seated in the back seat of a plush, ultra-luxurious Lexus or Mercedes. Their website makes scheduling a pickup and drop-off a simple procedure.

CORPORATE EVENT PLANNING

Boosting staff morale during difficult economic times is important. Corporate outings, recreational activities and staff barbeques can do the trick, but leaving staff to plan their own corporate events can make them feel tired, stressed and uninterested. Husband-and-wife team Chris and Starla Williams of Select Sites Group (292-9741, selectsitesgroup.com) offer an endless range of event planning and management services.

CORPORATE STAFF OUTING

Just like our clients from overseas, we all love a day outside the office enjoying a boat trip around the island, and our judges awarded The Rising Son II (232-5789, charterbermuda.com) catamaran the best corporate staff outing award. Our judges couldn’t express more admiration for owner and captain Beez Evans, delighting in his charm and humour. The judges also noted that the boat is available for a day trip or late-night party. Warning: keep in mind that pushing co-workers overboard is against the law and will not be tolerated, no matter how many rum swizzles you’ve consumed!

RECREATIONAL ACTIVITY FOR ENTERTAINING CLIENTS

It’s common knowledge that Bermuda is one of the most beautiful places in the world, which is why we should take ample opportunity to entertain overseas clients to the best of our ability. An afternoon cruise aboard Captain Steven “Cooky” Brown’s beautiful boat MV Destiny (Destiny Water Tours, 292-7103, destinywatertours.com) is the ultimate experience for visiting business professionals. In fact, whatever deal you’re trying to settle, we’re sure you can reach a mutually beneficial agreement on the water with a cocktail in hand, proving the saying “work hard, play hard” never grows old.

GOVERNMENT SERVICE

The unseen and unsung heroes of the Department of E-Government (Channel House, 12 Longfield Road, St. George’s, 297-7733) are responsible for the licensing and registration systems at TCD, the Internet at public libraries, the computer systems at Bermuda’s L. F. Wade International Airport and so much more. It’s amazing how this one Government department brings so much ease and simplicity to our daily lives, and they ask for little recognition in return.

STORAGE FACILITY

Glen Smith saw a niche market and decided to take a chance. He opened Island Self-Storage (2 Mill Reach Lane, Pembroke, 297-8673, islandselfstorage.bm) and has been inundated with customers ever since. The variety of storage space impressed our judges as did the low cost of renting space. Storage products such as boxes, blankets, labels and bubble wrap can be ordered online, making moving, storing and packing a simpler experience than ever before.

GREEN COMPANY INITIATIVE

Our judges couldn’t praise the work of Michael Burke of The Greenhouse Bermuda (15 Well Bottom Road, Warwick, 505-1762, thegreenhousebermuda.com) enough, calling his passion “unending” and his efforts “relentless.” His work with the corporate community impressed our judges the most, getting them excited about the number of office buildings going green. Thanks to Burke, office green no longer just refers to the money being made.

BEST COMPANY INCENTIVE

The recent rebranding of Shell to RUBiS Energy Bermuda (2 Ferry Reach Road, St. George’s, 297-1577, rubis-bermuda.com) may have thrown a few of us off, but once we were introduced to their RUBiS Rewards programme, we were on board with the change. RUBiS Rewards is a loyalty programme designed to save customers money. Each person who signs up (for free) receives a swipe card that they can use whenever they make a purchase at the RUBiS gas pump or in the RUBiS store. Each purchase earns points, which can be exchanged for money off the next purchase. Fuel rewards are given out each month in the form of coupons for gas up to $500! And it doesn’t stop there: club rewards are prizes customers can earn daily with special purchases. Saving money in a tough economy is always welcome, no matter what form it comes in.

BEST COMPANY TO WORK FOR

In this new category, our judges had no trouble choosing BELCO (27 Serpentine Road, Pembroke, 295-5111, belco.bm) as the best company to work for. Their fair employee relations and positive work environment is reflected in their long-serving employees. BELCO’s numerous apprenticeship programmes and entry-level job opportunities mean Bermudians can receive training in-house with the prospect of becoming a certified mechanic or electrical tradesperson. BELCO’s future green endeavours mean even more career opportunities for the future.

CORPORATE HAPPY HOUR

Crunching numbers, answering the phone and long-winded staff meetings can sometimes make you feel as though you’re on an office-survival course, especially by Friday afternoon. The most effective remedy is happy hour at Heritage Court at the Fairmont Hamilton Princess (76 Pitt’s Bay Road, Hamilton, 295-3000, fairmont.com/hamilton). It doesn’t matter what you’re sipping on (and, by the way, they have it all), the relaxing atmosphere and friendly service will encourage you to forget your extensive to-do list in no time.

PARTY VENUE

Previous winners in this category have been Bermuda’s most sophisticated restaurants and members-only clubs. A true sign of the times, this year’s winner is Docksiders Pub and Restaurant (121 Front Street, Hamilton, 296-3333, dockies.com), which provides a welcome relief to corporate pocketbooks. As one judge said, “Companies still need to motivate staff, and at Docksiders they can do so without spending a lot of money.”

BEST COMPANY CHRISTMAS PARTY LOCATION

Thank goodness for office Christmas parties! Watching the company accountant dance on a table, drink in hand, and incorrectly sing Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies” is well worth the 365-day wait. With a host of restaurants and locations to choose from, our judges had a difficult time selecting the best. The beautiful setting, old Bermuda charm and award-winning food eventually swayed our judges to choose Tom Moore’s Tavern (7 Walsingham Lane, Hamilton Parish, 293-8020, tommoores.com) as the best place to host your office Christmas party and your accountant’s unique singing talents.

ENTREPRENEUR

With over 20 years of experience in the wood-flooring business, Randy Stafford is the brain behind successful Stafford Flooring (48 St. John’s Road, Pembroke, 295-9744, staffordflooring.com). His innovation and drive have awarded him some of Bermuda’s biggest design projects, including KEMH, Capital G and Bermuda’s major reinsurance companies. As the Caribbean’s first certified timber flooring inspector, it’s no wonder Stafford Flooring now has locations in both Bermuda and Cayman Islands. Stafford also owns Common Ground Cafe, which also has pretty amazing floors, naturally.

COMPANY COMMUNITY PROJECT

Over the last 24 years, the Catlin End-to-End walk (292-6992, bermudaendtoend.bm) has raised more than $4 million for Bermuda charities. In 2011 alone, the annual walk raised over $250,000, which was split among 11 of our local charities. Corporate sponsorship plays a major role in the End-to-End. Employees from a wide range of businesses form teams to participate in the event, raising money via pledges and training together outside the office. The End-to-End is not only a lot of fun, but it’s also a great way for corporations to give back to Bermuda.

MORNING CUP OF JOE

Right in the heart of Hamilton, between a gym and a hardware store, is a special meeting place for a diverse group of people looking for a delicious cup of coffee. Much like a neighbourhood café in New York City, it is where Bermudians find quiet time in the midst of their bustling lives. Indeed, the Café Ten (10 Dundonald Street, Hamilton, 295-0857, ten.bm) crowd differs depending on the time of the day: before nine, it’s a hot spot for business professionals; after that, it’s the go-to for fitness fanatics who enjoy a fruit smoothie after a long workout; and in the afternoon, Café Ten is a kid-friendly zone where moms enjoy a little rest and relaxation. If you have any lingering doubts that Café Ten is the best place for a cup of coffee, just take it from one judge who said, “I walk past other coffee shops, just so I can go to Café Ten.”

CATERER

As budgets get smaller so does the guest list at company functions, which means you don’t have to automatically hire the largest caterer. Choosing a smaller group has its benefits, including personalised service, higher-quality ingredients and a larger menu. Wilks Catering (39 Devon Spring Road, Devonshire, 236-3584) is a favourite of those lucky enough to sample Kirk Wilks delectable dishes. His delicious Bermudian spreads and cost-effective services are sure to be a hit at your next company party.

EMPLOYMENT AGENCY

In the midst of a severe recession, a job opportunity in Bermuda’s business sector can seem like a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. Expertise Limited (Thistle House, 4 Burnaby Street, Hamilton, 296-0336, expertise.bm) has been successfully filling positions in Bermuda’s local and international business sectors since 1999. In addition to their headhunting services, they enhance employee job performance and staff morale with a host of team-building exercises, company analyses and HR consulting.

INTERIOR DESIGNER

Patrina Carey has brought new builds and renovations to life with her bold designs and sophisticated style. Our judges were extremely impressed with her own new shop, Carey’s Visual Designs (129 Front Street, Hamilton, 234-4851, careysvisualdesign.com), complete with a showroom and meeting facility. Carey’s passion for making her clients happy and comfortable in their space is what drives her success; our judges couldn’t deny her top honours in this year’s interior-design category.

OFF-SITE MEETING FACILITY

Our judges had no problem selecting the Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute (40 Crow Lane, East Broadway, Pembroke, 297-7257, buei.org) as the best place for an off-site meeting. Of course, with exceptional views, phenomenal exhibits and one of Bermuda’s best restaurants, it’s anyone’s guess how productive meetings can be, but perhaps that’s exactly the point.

CORPORATE HOSPITALITY EVENT

Is it really about the rugby, or rather the food, drink and entertainment? The World Rugby Classic (295-6574, worldrugby.bm) began in 1972 and has since grown to be one of our island’s best spectator sporting events. In addition to its infamous reputation, the World Rugby Classic is the best place to check out the who’s who of Bermuda. Often sold out months in advance, the members’ tent is the perfect spot to entertain overseas clients in VIP facilities with delicious food, the world’s best beers and plenty of live entertainment—oh, and rugby, of course.

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Product & Service Awards