This week, it was that time of the year when I'm privileged to be able to join the judging panel for the magazine's Dealer Of The Year Awards.
I'm not sure why I'm taken aback by this every year - because I should be used to it by now - but the standard of nominations that the awards received this year was truly exceptional. It is genuinely such a pleasure to work through so many inspiring accounts of businesses and individuals, around the country, continuing to produce such incredible work. In a period where a lot of what we are told about the state of the country is pure doom and gloom, to hear about our readers thriving, pushing onwards into new endeavours and planning for the future, is a delight.
Not that I'm looking for sympathy (!) but being part of the judging panel for the Dealer Awards is, as ever, a taxing operation and one that comes with a tangible weight of responsibility. However, after a meticulous and fair process, the panel finally made their choices, whittling down all the entires to the finalists and, eventually, to the winners in each category.
The judges (after the hard work was completed!). L-R: Laurence Gale, TurfPro editor; Steve Gibbs, Service Dealer editor; Keith Christian, ex-BAGMA and new Service Dealer contributor; Duncan Murray-Clarke, Service Dealer owner.
The panel were privy to accounts from our dealer readers themselves about their businesses and their valued team-mates, from their supplying manufacturers and from their satisfied customers. Listening to all these voices and their informed perspectives was a delight and of great benefit to the panel, allowing opinions to form and constructive debates to lead to definitive conclusions.
The final result is a cohort of businesses, stars, technicians and leaders who are truly worthy of industry-wide recognition.
But I want to stress, it's not just those who will have their names read out in a couple of week's time who are the sole winners here (I mean, they kind of are because we only have one prize per category to hand out - but you take my point!) Rather it's the UK independent dealer network as a whole that should feel immense pride and satisfaction at a job well done.
I'm sure day to day, dealers can feel undervalued, under appreciated and indeed, under immense pressure. It must often feel like a thankless task, dealing with frustrations generated both from customers and (occasionally!) suppliers. Every year though, we hear more and more accounts of tremendous entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation within the network. To have this recognised by peers, colleagues and the wider industry is, I feel, a truly worthwhile endeavour. Similar to every year, the winners chosen represent firstly their own businesses, but also importantly, they represent the wider dealer industry.
Everyone reading this today will know how hard they've worked again this past year, surmounting their own hurdles and ticking off their own achievements. As we get into the back end of 2023, it's worth taking a moment to reflect on these moments and to offer yourself and your team a well-deserved pat on the back for not just making it through, but for shining.
That's certainly what we'll be doing in a couple of week's time at the Awards ceremony. We look forward to celebrating with everyone then.