BENDIGO education group Thinka has taken top honours in the city's Business Excellence Awards during a gala event held online on Wednesday evening.
The 2021 business of the year helps companies strengthen workers' skills and was started by a team of Bendigo residents.
Judges said Thinka was a stand out business taking on much larger national firms and winning.
"This business has a very bright future and Bendigo is lucky to have this business in our back pocket," they said.
The award capped off a stellar evening for Thinka, which also took out top spot in the professional services firm category.
"The team of young professionals running this business are a very impressive crew," judges said.
"Smart and innovative, they know their customers very well. They have created their business around customer needs, and are winning market share through building relationships and designing solutions that fulfil customer needs."
The win comes at a time of international recognition for the company which earlier this year received gold at the World Media Festival awards.
Thinka was one of 16 Bendigo businesses and leaders recognised.
Family owned ironworking business Col-Iron took out the manufacturing and innovation category.
"Col-Iron is a great example of business ingenuity," judges said.
"From initial requests for fire pits, the business has been shaped by customer demand and now has an impressive range of steel art products."
The Barre Society took top spot in the customer focussed field, which was presented by the Bendigo Advertiser.
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Simon Rosa Landscaping had top honours in the small and succeeding category.
"The team's uncompromising commitment to quality and reputation is perfectly demonstrated by the lengthy waiting list of people wanting to use Simon Rosa Landscaping for their homes," judges said.
Bendigo Foodshare was named social change maker of the year for its work under very restrictive budgets.
"The extensive partnerships and sheer magnitude and reach of the work they are doing cannot be ignored but should be acknowledged plus you can sense a genuine passion about what they do," judges said.
Other winners included Claire Culley, who received the regional women's business award in recognition of her business acumen and leadership.
"She has focussed on culture and relationships and led from the front and the back," judges said.
"Claire can articulate the mission and value of OTIS Foundation in a passionate and effective way which helps with the gaining of new partners and supporters and is very respectful of the origins of the organisation.
"Claire is a very good role model for others."
Winners of the 2021 Bendigo Business Excellence Awards:
Customer Focussed category (presented by the Bendigo Advertiser):
- Barre Society
Diverse and Inclusive Workplace category (presented by the City of Greater Bendigo):
- Clear Dynamics
Emerging and Energised category (presented by WIN Network):
Events and Attractions category (presented by Bendigo Stadium):
- Bendigo Jockey Club
Health and Care category (presented by Monash University):
- The Neuro Practice
Hospitality Excellence (presented by the All Seasons Resort Hotel):
- The Dispensary
Manufacturing and Innovation (presented by Thales Australia):
- Col-Iron Unique Iron Art
Professional Services Firm (presented by VicSuper):
Regional Women's Business Award (presented by Bendigo Marketplace):
- Claire Culley
Retail Experience (presented by WDEA Works Bendigo):
- Gathered Homewares
Small and Succeeding (presented by Bolton's Office National)
- Simon Rosa Landscaping
Social Change Maker (presented by Spotless):
- Bendigo Foodshare
Sustainable and Environmental (presented by Kirkland Lake Gold):
- Silver Spoon Estate
Trade Specialist (presented by CVGT Australia):
- KIN Skin, Make Up and Body
Young and Professional (presented by Mandalay Resources):
- Ashley Morales (Ashley Morales Make Up and Creative)
Business of the year (presented by the Bendigo Bank):
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