EXPAND Construction emerged the overall champion at this year's Enterprise 50 (E50) Awards, sending a clear signal that businesses can still triumph over the challenges in the external environment.
The company, which placed third last year, outdid the field for the first time - a remarkable feat, considering the woes faced by the languishing construction industry in the past few years.
The next two places were taken by new entrants - foam and rubber components manufacturer Armstrong Industrial Corporation in second place, and oil and petroleum company Midas NSSG International in third.
These three were among the firms honoured for their enterprising spirit and innovation excellence at the E50 Awards gala dinner held at the Resorts World Convention Centre on Thursday.
Now in its 24th year, the E50 Awards recognise the top 50 local, privately held companies that have contributed to economic development in Singapore and abroad.
This year's awards, themed "Accelerating Growth, Innovating for Tomorrow", were presented by guest of honour Chan Chun Sing, the Minister for Trade and Industry.
During his speech, he showed a series of photographs of pre-development Singapore, including those of Jurong Island and Orchard Road, and contrasted these with dazzling artists' impressions of what these areas would look like in the future.
He then linked the achievements of the E50 winners to the trajectory of the Singapore Story, lauding the entrepreneurs for daring to get things done when others said it was not possible.
"Tonight, you don't just inspire fellow entrepreneurs - you are here because you inspire Singapore," he told the E50 winners, to rousing applause from the audience.
This year, two other special recognition awards - the Enterprise Transformation Award and the Internationalisation Award - were presented at the event to honour recipients for their spirit of enterprise.
The Enterprise Transformation Award, making its debut, was created to recognise the company that has best transformed itself to be innovative and future-ready.
The inaugural award went to new entrant Elmich, a manufacturer and distributor of waterproofing, landscape engineering and architectural products. The firm has shown its business model to be viable - one that makes strides in productivity and sustainable growth through an innovative, manpower-lean approach, even as it moves into higher value-added activities to enhance its competitiveness.
The Internationalisation Award, now in its third year, was presented to another new entrant, Explomo Technical Services, a provider of land remediation and civil defence related services. It won for its clear international growth and expansion strategy.
To qualify for these two awards, companies must make it to the E50 list.
This year's edition of E50 featured 34 first-time winners across a range of industries, compared to 30 fresh faces last year. The manufacturing sector continued to make up the largest percentage of the winners at 18 per cent, followed by the construction and business services sectors at 14 per cent each.
Jonathan Ho, head of Enterprise at KPMG in Singapore, noted that there has been a greater emphasis on recognising companies that have "revolutionised or reset their business models" to create new intellectual property and stronger enterprise value.
"As we enter the 25th year of the Awards programme in 2019, we are more certain, at any point in time, that the success of Singapore enterprises will be tilted in favour of those who embrace innovation and master transformation," he said.
Wong Wei Kong, editor of The Business Times, added: "We remain committed in our support of local enterprises and hope that the successful examples of the winners would spur others to even greater heights."
The awards are jointly organised by KPMG in Singapore and The Business Times, and sponsored by OCBC Bank. Supporters of the awards include Enterprise Singapore, the Singapore Business Federation and Singapore Exchange.