BENDIGO education group Thinka took out the top honours in the city's Business Excellence Awards Wednesday night.
Named Business of the Year, Thinka helps companies strengthen workers' skills and was started by a team of Bendigo residents.
THINKA co-founder and director of learning Lee Roulston was thrilled to receive the award.
"It was a big surprise to win the business of the year and we were really thrilled to accept the award," she said.
"We weren't expecting that and we feel really proud of our teams work and they are super committed so we are very happy on behalf of the whole team to win the big award."
Lee and Ben Roulston and Tara and Dee Ridsdale first started the business as a way of putting a new spin on learning design, digital development and learning delivery.
The team works with a number of clients to help upskill and educate their staff.
Ms Roulston said it was a positive moment to share after a difficult 18 months.
"We have had to dig deep this past year," she said.
"This is an acknowledgement of the hard work that we have out in over the past five years, we didn't start out with the client base we have now.
"We have grown our business organically from our own pocket, the relationships we built with our clients have come hard work and reliability... this award is a credit of that."
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.
The Barre Society took top spot in the customer focused field, which was presented by the Bendigo Advertiser.
Owner Nerida Firman said it was really exciting to receive the award.
"We are humbled to win and what that represents," she said.
"It's really lovely for us and what is most special is that it's a sense of validation that our model of fitness really works.
"We have shifted to a customer-focused business model where we recognise that women are their own best teachers in health and wellness and we are here to guide and help them."
Ms Firman said the fitness industry had been impacted severely by the pandemic and said the award came at the perfect time.
"The fitness industry has been impacted this past year and we have had many months of being shut down and I suppose even while we managed to pivot during those times, this is a sign of recognition of the good work we have done to support our clients over this time."
"It's beautiful timing and this is amazing.
"I think my team has done a fabulous job and I thank everyone for the nomination and everyone that has been involved in the awards."
Simon Rosa Landscaping had top honours in the small and succeeding category.
Director, Simon Rosa said the award was a rewarding achievement for himself and his team.
"This is just a reward for our team and I am proud of what we have been able to achieve as a small business," he said.
"To get a reward and recognition of what we do and what we have achieved was great for myself and for my team, we were very happy last night."
Mr Rosa said it was amazing to have the business awards in Bendigo.
"I think this is amazing and it's something I have followed for years and all of the board members and judges have done an amazing job," he said.
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