Paul Stonebanks, Managing Director of AIS, has been named ‘Entrepreneur of the Year’ at a prestigious regional awards ceremony.
Paul scooped one of the top individual business prizes at this year’s Insider Media North East Dealmaker Awards held last night at the Gosforth Park Hotel, near Newcastle.
North Shields-born entrepreneur Paul started AIS in 2007. Initially the business focussed on manufacturing, supplying and installing bespoke insulation products for the global oil and gas industry but quickly diversified into industrial training on the back of strong customer demand.
AIS now has six divisions: technical insulation and fire protection products, training services, facilities management, business efficiency related software, online sales and manpower services and works with blue-chip clients from around the world.
The company has experienced phenomenal business success and growth since its inception. As well as an 80% increase in turnover and profits year-on-year, AIS has expanded from an initial team of two to 150 today. AIS has also invested heavily to create a state-of-the-art 150,000 sq ft training complex in North Shields which includes a world-class offshore survival centre, onsite hotel and renewable energy centre of excellence. The company has also recently launched additional sites in Grimsby, Aberdeen and the Middle East.
Paul achieved an overwhelming number of votes from Dealmaker members to be crowned ‘Entrepreneur of the Year’.
Celebrating his win, Paul Stonebanks said: “I feel extremely honoured to have been awarded this prestigious title. It’s the icing on the cake of what has been a fantastic year for AIS. We are continuing to push the envelope of achievement, as well as cementing the North East’s global reputation for world-leading products and services. In the past 12 months alone we’ve launched the world’s thinnest industrial jet-fire insulation jacket, developed a £1million Renewable Energy Centre of Excellence to provide skills training for the wind industry and established new bases in Aberdeen and Grimsby in addition to creating 60 new jobs.
“But these achievements aren’t down to just one man - I’ve got a very talented and hard-working team behind me. They have all helped make AIS the phenomenal success story it is today. This award is as much for them as it is for me and I want to thank the entire AIS team – along with the Dealmaker voters - for their support and this very flattering accolade.”
Philip Cunliffe, Insider Media’s regional business editor, commented: “The Entrepreneur of the Year Award is the only one presented to a non-adviser at the Dealmakers Awards. We had some truly exceptional business leaders on the shortlist but Paul Stonebanks really stands out as one of the best there is. What he has achieved, and continues to achieve, for AIS and the region, is truly inspirational.”