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Exhaust firm leaves competitors in the dust at awards

A CO FERMANAGH firm run by five sisters has beaten off competition from thousands of businesses across the UK to take the top prize at a national awards ceremony.

GT Exhausts (NI) Ltd was named overall winner at the Britain's Best Business Awards last week.

The company was applauded for its "survival instinct" allowing it to achieve success in trying times.

Its unique female management structure was also admired.

GT Exhausts has been manufacturing exhaust systems for cars, vans, agricultural and industrial vehicles for 38 years from headquarters in Enniskillen.

The firm, which employs 80 people, ranks among the top four leading exhaust manufacturers in the UK.

GT Exhausts was founded and led by Gilbert Tunney up until his retirement.

Each of Mr Tunney's eight daughters have worked in various roles over the past three decades.

Sisters Tracey, Joelene, Claire, Edel and Gail are still working in the firm, part of the usually male-dominated world of precision engineering.

Contracts with car parts giants in the UK and Ireland have increased overall sales by 66% year-on-year, and its distribution network spreads across the UK and Ireland into parts of Europe.

Sales director Tracey Hunter thanked staff and family as she collected the award at an event in Edinburgh Castle.

"We owe our success to the dedication of our family members and the commitment of our staff."

The Northern Ireland category of the competition was won by Todds Leap, a Ballygawley-based activity, conference and training centre.

Benny O'Hanlon, managing director of Todds Leap, said: "All of us at Todds Leap are celebrating what has been another fantastic year for the company.

"Our investments have paid off, our recruitment drive has brought in new expertise and we are going to continue to develop and plan for the years ahead, especially targeting the European market."