After their most challenging period in 23 years of business honours flowed for innovative local advertising agencey Out of the Square Media (OOTS).
The company was given the honour of being a finalist in not one but three 2020 Hunter Business Award categories - COVID Hero, Contribution to the Region and Business Leader of the Year.
It was the most number nominations for any small business in this year's awards and was capped off with OOTS Founder and Managing Director, Marty Adnum, winning the much-coveted President's Award presented by Hunter Business Chamber President Hennie Du Plooy.
"I can't tell you how surprised and humbled I was," Marty said.
"This significant award is the culmination of a lot of hard work by the incredibly talented OOTS family which I am honoured to lead and generate ideas for to work on together."
Out of the Square's core business is strategic creative and marketing services for such iconic organisations as Greater Bank, Port Waratah Coal Services and Port of Newcastle.
Outside this, their goal is always to "give back" when they can through their passion projects. Something they relentlessly create year on year.
This year alone they created and collaborated on helphunter.com.au offering online resources to small business heading into the unknown, TogetherNotAlone.com.au in collaboration with Greater Bank and the Herald designed to celebrate and highlight acts of kindness, creativity and innovation and ExperienceHunter.com.au a video and web portal showcasing the Hunter's diverse tourism offerings to help struggling local operators.
"There's a quote from Hamilton the musical - 'history has its eyes on you' - and this drove me every day of the last nine months," Marty said.
"Both personally and for OOTS, I did not wish to look back and say, 'we could have or should have'.
"This was about giving it all with maximum benefit to the community as swiftly as possible."
Each of these pro bono projects gained substantial community support and appreciation throughout the region.
Collaboration was a strong ongoing theme through all OOTS did this year and something they strongly wish all Newcastle businesses to take into 2021 and beyond.
"It's not about defaulting back to our 'old ways'," Marty said. "We seemed to open up and drop personal agendas. It became more about the 'we' than 'I'.
"This attitude of shared learning and taking care of each other is just what we need to make this city and region the best it can be."