A chartered accountant by training, and a competitive sportsman and entrepreneur by nature, Neil Pryde has seen a great many changes in Hong Kong in the past five decades. Pryde arrived in Hong Kong in 1963 to work as a sailmaker. In 1968 he represented Hong Kong at the Mexico City Olympic Games and in 1970 he set up the Neil Pryde sail manufacturing company. Today, the Pryde Group is a global player in marine and adventure sports markets, with operations in China, Europe and North America and is this year's winner of the Enterprise Award. The group has three key business platforms - manufacturing, distribution and brand management. Last year, it had consolidated revenues of HK$628.89 million and gross profits of HK$228.86 million. Since 1970, the company's major shift has been moving its manufacturing operations to the mainland, while distribution subsidiaries spread throughout the world and brand management, marketing and creative control stayed in Hong Kong. 'In the 1970s, Hong Kong was still a cheap place to manufacture,' Pryde recalled. 'It was the era of plastic flowers and 'Hong Kong shirts'. It was at the cheap end of the value chain, making others' products at low prices. But Hong Kong's expertise is now in design and marketing - that's a huge repositioning in 40 years. 'Our small company has distinguished itself through design, innovation and production quality, though nothing is made here. Our four-decade history parallels that of Hong Kong and it's a journey we are grateful to have been a part of.' Pryde's advice to young entrepreneurs is to sit down and think hard about what they want to do, as the Hong Kong of his youth was a relatively inexpensive place to start a business by world standards. As such, he acknowledges the high initial burden of costly salaries and pricier real estate local enterprises face. 'The barriers to entry today are high. In the 1960s and 1970s, you could start on a shoestring,' he said. He also remembers a time when banks were more receptive to financing small and medium-sized enterprises 'Back then, they were more like neighbourhood banks. You could talk to a senior manager who understood your needs because Hong Kong actively fostered SMEs.' Looking ahead, Pryde believes the group will go from strength to strength. 'We are good at identifying products and opportunities, and making great designs and elegantly engineered products super-efficiently,' he said. He said he thought the DHL/SCMP Hong Kong Business Awards were important since the South China Morning Post was the voice of the community and local businesses needed such recognition. 'Generally, success is judged on how much money a business makes,' Pryde said. 'There's nothing like non-financial recognition for a job well done.'