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10 Business Bites: Perthshire firm’s top award, Fife apprentices and America’s most powerful travel agents given the VIP treatment

The Courier's weekly round up of positive business stories from Dundee, Angus, Perthshire and Fife.
The Courier's weekly round up of positive business stories from Dundee, Angus, Perthshire and Fife.

Every Friday morning The Courier publishes a weekly round-up of some of the many positive business stories from Dundee, Angus, Fife and Perthshire. We have a lot to be proud of in this area!

Thanks to everyone who has been sending in story ideas and please keep these coming to

And also please consider signing up for the business team’s new daily newsletter (sign up box under the main image on any business story).

Without further ado, let’s get to this week’s Business Bites.

1. Powerful American travel agents visit Tayside and Fife

A group of some of the most influential American travel agents have visited Tayside and Fife.

The trip is part of a strategy to restore a once highly-lucrative transatlantic tourist trade.

The group of more than 50 were representing premier members of ASTA (The American Society of Travel Advisors).

The minimum requirement for this group is a turnover of between $50 million and $20 billion.

They began with a visit to St Andrews and a round of golf on the Old Course.

Ken McNab (second from left) with Eben Peck, Jennifer Wilson-Buttigieg and Zane Kerby of ASTA at Glamis Castle.

They met Olympic curling champion Eve Muirhead and also visited Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Dornoch.

A highlight was pipers at a reception at Glamis Castle in Angus.

Ken McNab is managing director of Edinburgh-based The Travel Company, who organised the event.

He said: “Thousands of Scottish jobs rely on this trade, both in the travel and hospitality sectors.

“Our event shows that despite everything thrown at us, we are open for business again.”

2. Perthshire builder named Scotland’s best

Stephen Gardiner Construction, based in Auchterarder, is Scotland’s building contractor of the year.

The award is from the Construction Awards of Excellence.

Mr Gardiner, who founded the firm in 1988, said: “Winning this award is a recognition of how hard our team has worked through a very difficult period for us all.

“We are just a small business in Auchterarder but by offering high-quality, bespoke services, we can make our customer’s dreams come true.”

The Stephen Gardiner Construction team with their award.

He started the firm as a one-man band and it now has a 50-strong local workforce.

It has been responsible for many high-end bespoke designed homes around Gleneagles and further afield.

The judges were particularly impressed with the quality of the firm’s construction work and the firm’s local investment.

Muir Construction, of Inverkeithing, was also a finalist.

3. NCR gives Dundee youngsters taste of business

NCR partnered with V&A Dundee to give S3 pupils in four city schools a taste of STEM roles in business.

The youngsters spent a morning at the V&A looking at design and heard NCR graduates share their journeys from education to industry.

The school pupils at the NCR event at V&A Dundee.

Leigh Duncan from NCR said: “It’s important for children to talk to professionals to understand what’s out there after school.

“The NCR School Interlock project gives us the chance to talk to young adults about what we do in Dundee. There’s opportunities on their doorstep.”

Sam Edmond from V&A Dundee said: “V&A Dundee were delighted to work with local schools and NCR to bring this to life and give pupils a broad view of the various careers available’

NCR recently celebrated its 75 years in Dundee. In a joint project with NCR, The Courier shared the company’s history, told in 75 incredible pictures.

4. Harland & Wolff look for Fife apprentices

Harland & Wolff, which runs the former BiFab yard in Methil, will host its first virtual apprenticeship insight day.

The event on April 27, from 9.30am to 12.30pm, is open to people aged between 16 and 19 years old living near the four Harland & Wolff sites.

It will provide students with an introduction to the company, its apprenticeship scheme and talks to current apprentices and managers.

Harland and Wolff yard at Methill, Fife.

Applications to participate must be made via the Speakers for Schools portal.

Tony Colman, from Harland & Wolff (Methil), said: “We are committed to harnessing fresh talent and paving the way for the next generation.

“With work at the Methil yard ramping up, it is a great time to join our team.”

5. Insurance firm opens Perth office

Insurance broker Bruce Stevenson has opened its fifth Scottish office in Perth.

It follows a record year of growth in 2021, with turnover up by £600,000 to £8.7m.

Graeme Christie joins the firm from Marsh as commercial director with Ian H Smith hired as education client director.

Edward Bruce, Ian H Smith and Graeme Christie of Bruce Stevenson.

Mr Christie said: “Bruce Stevenson has a really strong base from which to further expand the business and the team.

“Having spent most of my career in the Perth and Dundee area, I’m excited about the new office opening in Perth.”

The firm, which has its headquarters in Edinburgh, is also actively speaking to a number of independent brokers about potential acquisitions.

6. Forfar businesswoman to represent Great Britain

An Angus businesswoman who recorded three podium finishes at Crufts has qualified for the European Open in the summer.

Katrina Hands from Forfar, who runs Finavon Dog Agility, will be part of the Team GB for the event in Belgium in July.

She will also compete at the Agility World Championships in Austria in September.

Katrina Hands and dog Sizzle at Crufts.

At both events, Katrina will compete with four-year-old Shetland sheepdogs Sizzle.

Her son Blair, 17, is off to the Junior World Championships in Finland in July as part of the junior agility team.

7. Global recognition for University of Dundee

The University of Dundee is a global centre of excellence for life sciences and medicine according to the QS World University Rankings.

Dundee was ranked 44th in the world (up from 82nd) for pharmacy and pharmacology.

It was also 93rd (up from 104th) for biological sciences.

These strong discipline showings helped the University to 131st in the life sciences and medicine grouping, a rise of 21 places on last year.

University of Dundee’s life sciences building.

The university was also ranked in the top 100 for art and design, top 150 for nursing and top 200 for medicine.

8. Minister visit to Binn Group

Binn Group at Glenfarg highlighted its next generation recycling facility to Scotland’s minister for green skills, circular economy and biodiversity, Lorna Slater.

Chief executive Allan MacGregor discussed the range of innovative clean tech, low carbon systems currently operating and proposed at the 200-acre site.

John Ferguson, Brian Harkins (Binn Group), Lorna Slater, Jim Brown (Binn Group), Nicki Souter (Resource Management Association Scotland) and Allan MacGregor.

The Minister also met John Ferguson, director with Pi Polymer, which is pioneering a waste plastic solution.

Binn Group, which employs 160 people, now processes over half a million tonnes of material each year with a recycling rate of over 90%.

Future proposals include a new skills training, education and research and development centre.

Mr MacGregor said: “We are a business fully committed to reducing waste and growing the circular economy.”

9. Fife firm’s work on £14m school

Dunfermline firm Deanestor provided bespoke furniture and fitout services for a new £14m primary school in West Lothian.

Deanestor manufactured and installed around 1,250 items of bespoke fitted furniture.

Calderwood School.

Around 3,000 items of loose seating, furniture and equipment were also procured and fitted by the Fife firm.

Deanestor recently won a £3.1m deal to manufacture and install bespoke kitchens and wardrobes for a new £80m build-to-rent project in Glasgow.

10. Dovetail seeks new board members

The incredible Dundee manufacturing company Dovetail – where many of the workforce has disabilities – is seeking new board members.

Dovetail Enterprises can trace its history in Dundee back 150 years.

It sells furniture, beds, mattresses and doors directly to the public from its showroom on Dunsinane Industrial Estate where it has been based for the past 20 years.

A Dovetail employee working on a mattress.

Last year it won a £600,000 contract for Agnes Husband House at Dundee Waterfront.

Acting chair of Dovetail’s board, Anne Rendall said: “The company has been through tough times, in common with others but despite the pandemic it continues to provide jobs for around 50 people in the city.

“We are looking for people with a little bit of time and a willingness to help Dovetail, one of our oldest established companies to thrive.”

To find out more contact