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Nation's Entrepreneurial Prowess Showcased At Celebratory Dinner

Scotland's entrepreneurial dynamism will be highlighted at a dinner at the Glasgow Hilton on Thursday, when the Entrepreneurial Exchange Awards are presented in front of around 500 guests.

Staged this year in association with professional services firm Deloitte and media partner The Herald, the awards are Scotland's longest-standing annual awards for growth-oriented entrepreneurs.

The Entrepreneurial Exchange is an organisation for ambitious entrepreneurs, with more than 400 members heading up companies with a collective turnover of more than £14 billion and employing 150,000 people.

The awards fall into two categories, Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year and Entrepreneur of the Year.

Our preview of the short-listed candidates in each category concludes with the three nominees for Entrepreneur of the Year.

Tom Cross, who developed the Dana Petroleum business that was sold to Korea National Oil Corporation for £1.9bn in 2010 and now runs North Sea-focused Parkmead Group, won the award last year.

Name: Abdelhamid Guedroudj

Company: Petroleum Experts

Location: Edinburgh

Started: 1990

Employees: 58

With a background embracing geology, engineering and mathematics, Abdelhamid Guedroudj spent 13 years working as a consultant in the oil and gas industry before spotting the opportunity to develop a business out of his rich mix of skills.

The Petroleum Experts business he founded in 1990 has developed a range of software tools that oil and gas firms can use to boost production and the efficiency of operations like reservoir engineering.

With offices in Scotland and the USA, the company has developed a global client base for its systems, which can allow firms to produce digital maps covering the process from production to refining. Petroleum Experts' products have been deployed on thousands of fields around the world.

The company was presented with a Queens Award for Enterprise this year.

John Anderson, chief executive of the Entrepreneurial Exchange, said: "Hamid is a classic entrepreneur. He was told that he was naïve to attempt to set up this business so could not access initial funding. This didn't put him off and he went on to establish a truly global business providing a unique, essential product for the oil and gas industry. Self funded, and with enormous growth, Hamid retains full control of a business which looks set to get bigger year on year."

Mike McGregor, Deloitte Partner leading the interview team, added: "Hamid is an outstanding entrepreneur. He has built Petroleum Experts from nothing using his skills, knowledge and expertise to create a world class business. Financially the growth has been astonishing with the company achieving 240% growth over the five years to 2012. I believe that Hamid, and Petroleum Experts, will continue to go from strength to strength."

Name: Wayne Godfrey

Company: Browns Food Group

Location: Kirkconnel, Dumfriesshire

Started: Founded in 1885. Browns was acquired by the Godfrey family in 1995

Employees: 800

Wayne Godfrey followed an unusual route into the food business owned by his family, which included a tour of South America, New Zealand and Australia in his 20s to observe different businesses and cultures and source new raw materials. He became a director of the business in 2004, since when Browns Food Group has increased turnover from £37m to more than £100m.

The company is one of the UK's leading food manufacturers supplying retail, food service and wholesale markets with fresh and frozen produce under brands like Belchers of Ayrshire. Earlier this year, Browns acquired the Hall's brand and van delivery service from Vion for an undisclosed sum, in a deal which preserved the jobs of dozens of drivers.

Mr Anderson said: "Wayne has come into a long established, highly respected family firm and transformed it over a decade. He has seen the potential for expansion through acquisition as well as developing new markets for the business. For Wayne and Browns the future looks bright and this family business, which also involves his four brothers and sisters in the business, looks set to achieve another 100 years of success."

Mr McGregor said: "Browns Food Group has been a remarkable story of a new generation transforming an existing family business and adapting it to the changing needs of the current marketplace. Food manufacturing is a highly competitive market and Wayne has developed a distinct and dynamic business since 2004 which now has the critical mass to give them greater flexibility and capability in the future."

Name: Billy Walker

Company: The BenRiach Distillery Co Ltd

Location: Edinburgh

Started: 2004

Employees: 82

An organic chemist by training Billy Walker spent 20 years working for the Burn Stewart whisky operation before starting BenRiach in 2004 following the acquisition of the Elgin-based distillery of that name from Pernod Ricard for around £5m. Convinced that developing high end specialist whisky was the way forward in a competitive market, he purchased Glen Dronach distillery in Aberdeenshire with its stock matured in sherry casks in 2008. In March Benriach bought the Glenglassaugh distillery in Banffshire to help cash in on what Mr Walker called unprecedented demand for high-end brands in places like China and the Middle East. The company now exports 95% of its products.

"Whisky may be perceived as an overcrowded marketplace with little opportunity for the smaller producer," said Mr Anderson. "Yet Billy has developed a specialist, niche market of high value, low volume top quality produce. He has shown that no matter how well established the market there is always room for an innovator."

Mr McGregor said: "Billy is proof that in a market which is already well served there is still room for the company with the unique product. Given the lengthy lead times in quality whisky production, where it can be 10 or 12 years before revenue starts to flow, Billy has developed a strong business with an exceptional future. Clearly his backers had considerable faith in Billy's abilities and in the quality of his products."

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