Gippsland Businesses Star in Federation Business Awards

The quality of local businesses was again to the fore at the announcement of the winners in this year’s Federation Business School Gippsland Business Awards on Friday night (August 25, 2017).

Local internet service provider Aussie Broadband, competing in a tough and competitive market place, took out the ‘Services – Business and Professional’ category on the way to winning the Business of the Year Award.

Businesses from across Gippsland were well represented and had their time in the business sun in front of almost 400 people at the Gala Awards dinner.

The category winners came from across the region. A selection of accompanying judges’ comments explained in part why each won its category.

Services – Business and Professional & Business of the Year Award: Aussie Broadband – Morwell

Aussie Broadband was described by judges as “an outstanding regional business servicing Australia and a leader among its peers. This technologically based business is to be applauded for its excellent human resources practices, resulting in exceptional staff engagement levels which underpin its business success.  A leading-edge approach to volunteering and diversity highlights the organisation’s commitment to its people.”

Judges added: “The ability to serve the local Gippsland area coupled with growth and expansion into other geographic areas is evident, with sustained success in a national market while competing against major industry players is strengthened by clear business goals for the future.”

Accommodation: Bridges on Argyle Motel – Traralgon

An excellent customer focus and high quality facilities, have underpinned the growth of this business.  Expansion through the active use of social media and TripAdvisor was noted by the judges. Mid-week business bookings are significant, as are return customers, reinforcing the delivery of ongoing stakeholder satisfaction.

New Business: Boolarra Community Hotel – Boolarra

It was described as an “excellent submission” with an innovative legal structure developed to underpin the business.  “Clear signs of success and a solid focus for future growth and development” were supported by a great vision statement with “key goals including the timeframes and how.” One judge said it was a “fantastic story and sound business case to prevent a community asset from being lost to the town.  The hotel has been transformed from a former privately owned run down business to a new community owned asset with the potential to grow and support employment for a range of people in the area.”

Services – Personal and Other:   Gippsland Cosmetic Laser Clinic – Warragul and Traralgon

Judges said it was a “detailed submission highlighting the specific goals and growth opportunities for the business.”  “The adherence to a business model that maintains ethical standards and commitment to trained and specialist staff which underpins the business culture in an unregulated market is to be commended.”

Services – Trade and Construction:  Smart Steel Designs – Yarragon

Smart Steel Designs “have excellent short term and long term goals, by growing the business and expanding,” judges said. “They have also moved into the commercial steel market successfully after only being residential. Because of their business ethics they have managed to become dealerships with two well-known brands.  They have restructured their management and staff as the needs has arisen with the changes to the company.”

Tourism:  Lardner Park – Lardner

It was described as a “strong application that ticks all the boxes” with a detailed description of business and it products given.  “Good vision for growing the business that has a flow on effect for the community. Very comprehensive application from a business that seems to have identified areas for growth and diversification well outside of their initial area,” judges added. “A unique facility for Gippsland and will collaborate with others to attract business and visitors to the region.”

Food and Wine Production:  Prom Country Cheese – Moyarra

One judge said: “A great business with a clear vision and business development plan. Outstanding.”  Other comments included “The owners have found a balance between size of farm, ongoing growth and maintaining quality of product.  They have identified new opportunities without impacting negatively on their core business.   Significant technological and energy efficiency enhancements have increased productivity.  A unique manufacturer of cheeses from a sustainable farm, focused on the delivery of a quality product.”

Hospitality:  Tinamba Hotel – Tinamba

Judges said the submission “highlighted the commitment to providing an exceptional customer experience as an integral part of the business goals, with a vision and growth strategy clearly evident.  Development of industry partners as an innovative approach to business growth also stands out as a major strategy.  “A consistent performer, showcasing local produce and consistently delivering an excellent customer experience, to a broad marketplace. A unique and unexpected dining destination.”

Retail:  TM&H Home Timber & Hardware – Moe

Judges noted it was a “family owned business who has responded quickly to change” and an adaptable business employing 47 staff.  It is involved in the community supporting a variety of local clubs including Cancer Council and has a wide range of medium and long term goals to support ongoing business growth.

Manufacturing and/or Export:  Dual Winners – both from Bairnsdale

Dennison Foods Manufacturing

Judges were impressed by the adoption of solid work/life balance practices driven by the company’s focus on employee’s family obligations.  Commitment to supporting the local community is impressive.  A broad client base including large corporate clients is underpinned by clear and quantified future growth plans.  An excellent example of a diversified regional business.

Kennedy Trailers

Judges recognised that “Significant investment in research and development has streamlined production processes to reduce manufacturing times and waste and increased competitiveness without compromising quality.”  “Customising transport solutions for logging, mining and heavy transport equipment has set this business apart from its competitors”. Clear evidence of excellent business goals and a future growth strategy.

Franchises:  Jim’s Building Inspections – East Gippsland and Sale

Judges noted “the use of cloud technology ensures both statutory compliance and efficient service delivery.”  “With a clear growth strategy for the future, current success is reflected in the operator being named Jim’s Inspector of the year for Victoria/Tasmania.”  

Hall of Fame:  Henry Donohue, Coldon Homes – Wonthaggi

Recognising outstanding business contribution and a positive impact on Gippsland, the 2017 Hall of Fame award recipient was Henry Donohue, Coldon Homes.  

From humble beginnings in business, Henry went on to establish Coldon homes in 1966 which in 20 years became the largest builder of homes in regional Victoria, one of Australia’s leading volume builders and remains one of Victoria’s largest builders.  In addition, Henry also established a chain of hardware stores throughout South Gippsland and a major frame, truss, window and joinery factory in Wonthaggi, providing a livelihood to thousands of people and was a committed contributor to his community.

Chair of the Gippsland Business Awards Committee, Graeme Sennett, said the Federation Business School Gala Awards night again demonstrated the quality and depth of businesses in Gippsland.

“We had an extremely strong field this year, with our entries up on previous years so each of the category winners really earned their spot.”

Each finalist is assessed and independently rated by five different judges across ten judging criteria, and as appropriate, receiving site visits or judges undertaking mystery shopper visits.

It was another great celebration of the capacity and ability of Gippsland businesses,” Mr Sennett added.

For further details of winners and finalists refer to the Federation Business School Gippsland Business Awards website at www.gba.org.au.

For additional media comment please contact Stephen Breheny 0448 996 453.