ALAN Savage, chairman of Inverness-based recruitment firm Orion Group, has been named the Ernst & Young Scottish Entrepreneur of the Year.
Savage, who set up Orion in 1986 with just two staff to recruit workers for the Moray Firth oil rig construction yards - the group has since expanded and now operates in 44 countries - fought off competition from 27 of Scotland's leading entrepreneurs to pick up the top award.
The independent judging panel, chaired by Clyde Blowers founder Jim McColl, described Savage as an entrepreneur who leads from the front and is "not afraid of risk".
Mark Harvey, Ernst & Young partner and leader of Entrepreneur of the Year in Scotland, said: "The success achieved by Alan Savage highlights the drive and determination of Scottish companies to succeed in today's global climate. His focused approach and willingness to take risks make him a fitting role model for other indigenous businesses to follow and a worthy winner for Scotland."
Harvey said the judging panel, which included holiday firm tycoon John Boyle and telecoms entrepreneur Chris Gorman, was impressed by the "standard and depth" of this year's entrants.
Viewed by the judges as a "fantastic, fast growing global organisation", Orion supplied more than 5,000 personnel in the last year and has an estimated turnover for the current year of 150 million. Savage now has the opportunity to compete in the national awards to be held in London in October.
He takes the baton from last year's winner, Keith Miller of Miller Group, who followed in the footsteps of housing sector rival Stewart Milne, chairman and chief executive of Stewart Milne Group.
Last night, Chris Giles, chief executive officer of Giles Insurance Brokers, picked up a special award for entrepreneurship. McColl said Giles's firm was a great example of a traditional Scottish family business growing into a major UK player.