The deadline has passed, the entries are in and the judges have made their decision: the Roland Heroes Awards 2018 have been won by Peak UK!
At a special event at the Roland Creative Centre in Geel, Belgium on a chilly January day, our three judges pored over 23 shortlisted entries – just a small selection of the incredible variety of Heroes who stepped forward – to select their winner. It was a tough decision, but our judging team had the experience and knowledge to whittle down the list to their favourites, scoring each in the key areas of Creativity, Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Inspiration.
Among them was Beth Kempton, the author, motivational speaker, 'Japanologist' and award-winning entrepreneur behind Do What You Love, Make Art That Sells and Make It In Design – three businesses she continues to run concurrently. As a founding member of the Advisory Board of the Beyond Sport Awards and a co-founder of the Make Art That Sells Global Talent Search, Beth is a judging veteran.
Alongside Beth at the judges' table was Christian Duyckaerts, President of FESPA since May 2017 and the Managing Director of Retail Communicators, a Belgian print production service specialising in office interior decoration and rebranding. He knows his stuff when it comes to running a printing business.
Roland DG EMEA's Head of Marketing Gillian Montanaro completed the trio. Gillian knows Roland inside and out having worked at the company for almost a decade, so knows exactly what to look for in a Roland Hero.
The shortlisted Heroes were as diverse as the applications they produce on their Roland systems. Hailing from Sweden to the Canary Islands, entrants numbered jewellery designers, sportswear brands, vehicle wrappers, gift producers, home décor experts and many more, ranging from big companies to one-man-bands working in their spare time. The judges were truly wowed by the stories shared by our Heroes – some very unexpected, some really remarkable, some absolutely lovely, but all totally inspirational.
Lisa Moncrieff, Roland DG EMEA’s Content Marketing Manager gave a presentation introducing the awards, the 23 shortlisted entrants and guidance on what the judges should look for. Beth, Christian and Gillian set about discussing their favourites, and what it truly means to be a Roland Hero.
After an intense afternoon, the winner was finally declared: Peak UK! The brainchild of former canoe slalom athlete Pete Astles, Peak UK is a British kayaking apparel company built from the ground up. Pete sells his own cutting-edge designs, branded with Roland Texart dye-sublimation equipment, to international customers including Olympic teams. He's seen his kit go to the Games in both London and Rio, helping the world's best athletes grab Olympic glory.
Our judges loved Pete's creativity, determination, focus and passion, how he found a niche and took it global, and how he demonstrates that it's not just the person on the podium who works to win medals.
Pete says the Peak UK team is 'blown away' by the award and has suggested he'll be choosing a trip to Thailand for his prize, but with holidays in Iceland or Florida also on the table it'll be hard to decide.
Similarly, the three judges found it so difficult to select just one winner of the Roland Hero Awards that they also recognised four more entrants. A Judges' Special Mention prize has been awarded to Italy's Gemanco Design – an ambitious and professional offshoot of a construction specialist which produces fabulous custom-printed wallpapers, wall stickers and amazing resin mosaics. Beth was particularly impressed by the applications shown in the mini-documentary video of Gemanco – "I wanted to keep watching!" she said.
Three further finalists were chosen as Highly Commended Heroes. The judges loved the tenacity of In Your Face from the Canary Islands, Spain which started from nothing following redundancy and is now a big name in windsurfing graphics. Another creative sports business, Dutch custom kiteboard maker Lieuwe Boards, also got the Highly Commended nod for its super-cool designs and rapid success. UK-based Nutmeg Studio won the judges' hearts too: this wall decal specialist has evolved from the kitchen table to the shelves of big retailers, with the owner's home and family inspiring the designs.
As well as representing a diverse range of Roland users, the fab five finalists use a variety of Roland systems: Peak UK relies on Roland Texart dye-sublimation and a vinyl cutter; Lieuwe Boards uses the powerful little VersaSTUDIO BN-20; In Your Face and Nutmeg Studio both utilise Roland combined printer/cutters; and a Roland VersaUV LEJ-640 brings creative ideas to life for Gemanco Design.
The Roland Heroes Awards was a huge success with so many people getting involved – proving the awesomeness of the Roland community. Watch this space to hear how Pete from Peak UK enjoyed his prize!
Find out more about our winners and judges: