LOCAL success story Glenilen Farm are among the 24 finalists in the prestigious Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year competition.

The Drimoleague-based family business has been nominated in the emerging category and were featured recently in a special RTÉ programme with other nominees screened on RTÉ 1.

The winners of each category, a special award winner and the overall Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year 2012 will be revealed at an awards ceremony in Dublin later this month.

Glenilen, an artisan, dairy-based food manufacturing business was set up by Alan and Valerie Kingston in 1997.

They began by making and selling homemade cheesecakes at local farmers markets.

The company now employs a team of 30 staff, that includes a sales and marketing manager for the Ireland and the UK markets and a quality and production manager whose primary aim is to ensure the quality and taste of Glenilen Farm products is maintained or improved.

Numerous business and food awards have been won by the couple, including a British Cheese Gold award; a Bord Bia Real Thing Award; and an Irish Food Writers’ Guild Award. Valerie also won the FBD and Irish Farmers Journal Women’s Agri-Business Innovation Award in 2011.

Since Glenilen’s entry to the UK market, exports have played a significant role in the company’s success, accounting for 11 per cent of sales in 2011, compared with just 1 per cent in 2010.

Turnover for the business was €3.2 million for year-end February 2012.