Best in the west: 2011’s top Western Australian entrepreneurs named
Friday, 29 July 2011— The top Western Australian entrepreneurs for 2011 were honoured last night at the annual EY Entrepreneur Of The Year Western region awards ceremony at Burswood Entertainment Complex.
The 2011 Entrepreneur Of The Year Western region winners, by category, are:
- Emerging – Rory Vassallo, Vassallo Corporation
- Industry – Gene Kostecki, Alloy Steel International
- Services – Ky Cao, Perth Energy Pty Ltd
- Technology – Aaron Begley, Matrix Composites & Engineering Ltd
Also recognised in the non-competitive regional award categories were:
- Listed – Michael Malone, iiNet
- Social entrepreneur – Professor Michael Henderson and Professor Bruce Robinson, International Skills and Training Institute in Health
- Champion of Entrepreneurship – Andrew Forrest, Fortescue Metals Group
EY Perth Office Managing Partner, Mike Anghie said the calibre of this year’s nominees and winners showed that entrepreneurship was alive and well across the state.
“Western Australia has a strong history of innovation and business excellence and our 2011 award winners are prime examples of that entrepreneurial spirit,” Mr Anghie said.
Mr Anghie said the Western region winners and award recipients would go on to contend for the title of 2011 Australian EY Entrepreneur Of The Year at the national awards in November.
“The Australian winner will then go on to compete in the EY World Entrepreneur Of The Year awards in Monte Carlo next year,” Mr Anghie said.
“Last year, Western Australian nominee John Spence of The Karma Royal Group was named Australian Entrepreneur Of The Year for 2010 and represented the country at the World Entrepreneur Of The Year awards, following in the footsteps of previous Western Australian based National winners John Rothwell and Rod Jones.”
EY Entrepreneur Of The Year is considered the world’s most prestigious business award and the only truly global program of its kind, with 140 cities participating from over 50 countries.
Over 900 outstanding entrepreneurs have been recognised through the Entrepreneur Of The Year program in Australia since 2001.
For more information on the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year program go to www.eoy.ey.com.au.
2011 EY Entrepreneur Of The Year category winners, Western region
Rory Vassallo – Vassallo Corporation
In 2003, when the mining boom had just hit Western Australia, it was clear that migrating workers would require childcare. Using equity from his first home, Rory Vassallo founded Vassallo Corporation in 2003 at the age of 20. With more than 250 employees, Vassallo Corporation now operates 23 centres, providing high quality day care and after-school childcare services to local communities across Western Australia. Rory believes it is important to use his prominence in the childcare industry to shape the future direction of childcare in Australia. He is currently president of the Childcare Association WA, also representing WA on the Australian Childcare Alliance board and previously on Federal and State Government’s Childcare Advisory Groups.
What the judges said: Like many successful entrepreneurs, Rory saw opportunity in a sector where most saw risk and low levels of attractiveness. With a fantastic understanding of his industry, Rory has used a mixture of hard-edged business discipline and consciousness of people to make a market leading business.
Gene Kostecki – Alloy Steel International
Gene Kostecki invented the world’s most wear resistant fused alloy steel plate, creating a $30 million company in the process. After five years of experimentation, including developing a prototype machine for the manufacturing process, Gene invented the recipe for AcroPlate: a homogenised alloy overlay that can be smoothly bonded with a 100% metallurgical bond between the alloy and the mild steel.
Arcoplate’s world patented manufacturing process guarantees hardness, microstructure and surface finish of a far superior quality, wearing up to eight times longer than traditional plates. Today, AcroPlate is used extensively throughout the global mining industry, exporting to 14 countries. Gene’s financial goal is to increase sales to $300 million by 2015.
What the judges said: Gene’s entrepreneurship has delivered international success in a tough, technically demanding market through innovation, relationship building with leading client companies and relentless resolution of problems. His product has global application, putting Western Australia on the map for supplying the industry with breakthrough technological solutions.
Ky Cao – Perth Energy Pty Ltd
Ky Cao built a $123 million electricity and gas supply business by taking advantage of opportunities in Western Australia’s deregulated energy market. Perth Energy takes power from independent power producers, state owned generator Verve Energy and the wholesale energy market to supply its commercial and industrial customers. In 2010, Perth Energy commissioned a 120MW, fast-response dual fuel power station at Kwinana and surpassed 1,000,000 MWh in sales. The plant provides Perth Energy with a cap on peak energy cost, enabling the business to grow sales significantly. Ky's goal is for Perth Energy to increase its market share from 8% to 30% in the next five years and entrench competition in the industry.
What the judges said: Ky demonstrated an insight into how a company could create value in a new structured market with challenging rule complexity. He was able to go from a very small capital base to successfully commissioning an advanced, fast-start generation plant in very short time and has introduced a number of firsts to the energy sector.
Aaron Begley – Matrix Composites & Engineering Ltd
Since becoming managing director of Matrix Composites & Engineering (Matrix) in 1999, Aaron Begley has overseen a period of significant expansion, enabling Matrix to become a leading Australian manufacturer of critical engineered products for the offshore, subsea, mining and defence industries. With the ability to test and certify their own products to an American petroleum institute standard, Matrix is well on its way to being recognised as a global player. Aaron promotes a flat organisation structure, encouraging all team members to have an open and honest relationship with each other and with Matrix’s customers. This approach has paid off, with the company recently awarded the Subsea Energy Australia Global Exporter Award for 2011. Aaron’s goal is for Matrix to become the world leader in their field, by identifying growth markets and adopting a narrow focus.
What the judges said: Aaron’s personal interest and enthusiasm, in developing specific technologies relating to composite material based products, can be seen in the success of his company. The international certification of his products has led to a very substantial and profitable expansion of the business and the development of a world class production base in Henderson offers further potential.
2011 EY Entrepreneur Of The Year non-competitive regional award recipients
The Social entrepreneur and Listed award recipients will go on to compete at the National awards against their regional counterparts.
Michael Malone – iiNet
Michael Malone founded iiNet in the garage of a suburban home back in 1993 to supply himself with internet access, since there were no other internet service providers in Western Australia. The company was publicly listed in 1999. Today iiNet is the leading challenger in the Australian telecommunications market, with a reputation for pushing internet technology to its threshold and developing access products that harness its potential. As CEO of Australia’s second largest DSL internet service provider, Michael is passionate about the transformative benefits of the internet. His vision to “lead on product and differentiate on service” drives every facet of the business and his genuine curiosity in people and ideas ensures that iiNet stays relevant in a rapidly changing telecommunications landscape.
Category: Social entrepreneur
Professor Michael Henderson and Professor Bruce Robinson – International Skills & Training Institute in Health
Michael Henderson and Bruce Robinson founded the International Skills and Training Institute in Health (ISTIH) in 2005. Established reactively during the Indian Ocean Tsunami, ISTIH subsequently mobilised staff to the region and helped with developing new, or supporting existing training programs in medicine, nursing and allied health areas. Today, ISTIH is both proactive and reactive in the support of natural disasters, with the capability to identify, facilitate and project manage broad based aid projects, including fresh water supply/treatment, design of healthcare facilities, biomedical engineering education, and diagnostic equipment training.
Thanks to the efforts of its founders, ISTIH has strong representation from institutions and academia, including a vast network of specialists, doctors, nurses and allied health workers.
Category: Champion of Entrepreneurship
The Champion of Entrepreneurship award is a lifetime achievement award that recognises individuals who: have a long-term record of outstanding entrepreneurial achievement; have driven the growth of an Australian company, or companies, over a sustained period of time; and have made a significant contribution to their community.
Andrew Forrest – Fortescue Metals Group
Andrew Forrest grew up jackarooing on sheep and cattle stations. He graduated from the University of Western Australia and now serves as founder and Chief Executive Officer of Fortescue Metals Group Ltd (FMG) and the Australian Children’s Trust.
The companies he has founded are some of the world’s largest in their field, while the charities he supports work across Australia and overseas. Since the inception of FMG in 2003, Andrew has held the position of Chief Executive Officer, leading the company to its current standing of being the fourth largest global iron ore exporter having expended and committed over $14 billion in the Australian iron ore industry.
Having recently announced his retirement as Chief Executive Officer, Andrew will now serve as FMG’s Non Executive Chairman and will continue to serve a number of companies, chambers and charities, as he has in the past.
He is an Adjunct Professor of the China Southern University and a long‐standing fellow of the Australian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy. He has been awarded: the Australian Centenary Medal; the Australian Sports Medal; Citizen of the Year for Regional Development; Australian EY Social Entrepreneur Of The Year; and has won multiple global finance awards. That said, Andrew believes the most challenging and rewarding job is raising kids.
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