The latest crop of award winners was announced at the Hunter Business Awards, at a gala function on Friday, 2 August 2013.
With over 60 finalists announced in July, the awards are presented by the Hunter Business Chamber and honour eight organisations and two individuals.
Chamber CEO Kristen Keegan said that the as the largest regional chamber in Australia, they proudly represent the member interests of member businesses that operate in the diverse and dynamic economy.
“We have more than 1,200 members across a wide variety of industry sectors and a record number of award finalists were in attendance on Friday night,” Kristen said.
“This is a testament to the caliber of leaders and leading organisations that make up our region and their excellence is certainly worth celebrating.”
The list of winners are as follows:
- BUSINESS LEADER OF THE YEAR
The General Manager of Ipera Communications Pty Ltd (a Vocus Company), Chris Deere was named Business Leader of the Year an award that recognises the positive contribution made to business by business people and professionals aged 35 years or over.
Chamber President, Richard Anicich said that Chris was a shining example of the calibre of leaders the Hunter business community is home to.
“Chris's work has enabled Hunter businesses to significantly improve not only their national but also their global reach and competitiveness.,” Richard said.
“He is a quiet achiever and has established a strong legacy of people development and thought leadership in the technology arena.”
“Chris strongly represents the innovation in information technology that the Hunter region is increasingly recognised for.”
- YOUNG BUSINESS EXECUTIVE (AGE 18-35)
The award for Young Business Executive recognised an inspirational young professional aged between 18-35 years who has built a successful career with an organisation.
The judges commented that entrants in this category demonstrated outstanding commitment, initiative and drive across many areas of their careers.
Awarded to James Reid, who is a Director and Pharmacist of Doc's MegaSave Chemist in Marketown, the judges said that James is ensuring his team takes a holistic approach to the healthcare needs of the community and is developing business strategies to respond to those.
In addition, in the past year James trained for and competed in The Marathon Des Sables, a 251km foot race, across the Sahara desert in Morocco, raising money and awareness for Ronald McDonald House Newcastle.
- HUNTER WATER SAVERS
An initiative of Hunter Water Corporation, this award recognised the Hunter Sports Centre, who saved the largest amount of water as a result of water audits and the implementation of water efficiency retrofits.
The Hunter Sports Centre is considered to be one of the region's premier sporting and recreational venues. Opening in February 1999 the Centre achieved a significant milestone of three million user visits in June of this year.
A groundbreaking water project at the Centre is set to save them almost three million litres of water a year.
- EXCELLENCE IN SMALL BUSINESS
Mortels Sheepskin Factory was recognised for their excellence in small business.
The judges were impressed by the innovation and growth of the business over the past 12 months. Distributing to more than 15 countries throughout the world with recent partnerships including Russia and China, the company has seen a growth in export sales of 10 per cent, a growth in national online sales by 140 per cent and a growth of international online sales by 50 per cent.
- EXCELLENCE IN BUSINESS (20+)
This award recognised an organisation that has developed initiatives that demonstrate a competitive advantage through innovation and sustainability strategies.
Winners Pacific Smiles Group began in the Hunter in 2003 with three centres, and now operate a network of 28 Pacific Smiles Dental branded centres, and a further six nib Dental Care Centres, conducted under a long term branding and relationship agreement with nib Health Funds. The judges commented on the collaboration and its success in growing customer bases and customer satisfaction.
- CUSTOMER SERVICE (-20)
This award recognised an organisation employing less than 20 employees that has employed outstanding practices in customer service to achieve business success.
Awarded to Hungerford Hill Wines, the judges noted the team's willingness to analyse the needs and choices of their customers and make changes to improve Cellar Door and Wine Club processes. Supporting the investment in their customers they have also seen a five per cent increase in cellar door and club sales as well as an 11 per cent growth in club membership.
- CUSTOMER SERVICE (20+)
The partner to the previous award, but for larger organisations, it was awarded to Genesis Fitness Clubs.
The judges noted their complete dedication to employees as well as members as the driving component to their ongoing success and outcomes of greater than 90 per cent employee retention and 35 per cent membership growth in the last 12 months.
- LOCAL CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
A new category as a result of the growing Chamber Alliance program, this award recognised the achievements of a Local Chamber in supporting their own members to maximise their business potential.
Awarded to the Singleton Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc, who responded to growth in the area by improving its presence in not only Singleton but the wider Hunter by attending events, participating in forums and increasing its public profile.
- CONTRIBUTION TO THE REGION
This award recognised the Newcastle Permanent Building Society as an organisation that has made a significant contribution to the ongoing prosperity and growth of the Hunter Region outside its core business activity.
The judges commented on the overwhelming commitment the Newcastle Permanent has shown to the community, consistently over many years.
Their Charitable Foundation celebrates 10 years of operation this year and delivers grants to not for profit community projects to help those in need.
- HUNTER BUSINESS CHAMBER PRESIDENT'S AWARD
The President's Award is the only one not selected by a judging panel but, as the name suggests, by the President of the Chamber.
It was established some years ago to provide the Chamber with an opportunity to recognise companies, individuals and organisations that have added a special value to the business community in ways that are not recognised by other awards.
This year the award was presented to Life Without Barriers, an organisation that has been making a significant contribution to this Region for many years.
It is now one of the most significant not-for-profit organisations in Australia, with over 85 support centres providing care services to the community and has an annual turnover of about $300 million.
Image L-R: Shannon Garcia , Bradd Morelli, Melinda Smith, Terry Lawler, Mary Reid, James Reid, Chris Deere, Claire Robbs, Richard Anicich, Andrew Parfitt, Kristen Keegan