Top Queensland entrepreneurs awarded at Brisbane ceremony

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Friday 24 August 2012 - Queensland’s top entrepreneurs were announced last night at the 2012 EY Entrepreneur Of The Year Northern region awards ceremony in Brisbane.

Winners of the 2012 EY Entrepreneur Of The Year Northern region awards, by category, were:

  • Emerging – Brendon Levenson, Jetts
  • Industry – Phillip Di Bella, Di Bella Coffee
  • Services – Gary Gardner, FK Gardner & Sons
  • Technology – Janine Garrett, charmHealth

Also recognised in the non-competitive regional award categories were:

  • Listed award – Don Meij, Domino’s Pizza Enterprises
  • Social entrepreneur – Graeme Wood AM, Artology and Wild Mob
  • Champion of Entrepreneurship – Thérèse Rein, Ingeus and Assure Programs

EY Brisbane Managing Partner, Jenny Parker, said this year’s winners demonstrated the high calibre of entrepreneurial talent that Queensland had to offer.

“Entrepreneurs play a vital role in creating jobs, boosting economies and improving communities, both locally and at a national and global level,” Parker said.

“EY congratulates all of our 2012 Northern region award winners and nominees. Our judges had a tough decision to select from such an outstanding group of Queensland entrepreneurs this year,” Parker said.

“Our Northern region winners and award recipients will travel to Sydney in November to contend for the title of 2012 Australian EY Entrepreneur Of The Year at the national awards.

“The overall Australian winner will then compete in the EY World Entrepreneur Of The Year awards in Monte Carlo next year,” Parker said.

The Honourable Ros Bates MP, Minister for Science, Information Technology, Innovation and the Arts, said the Northern region winners highlighted the high standard of entrepreneurship in Queensland.

“Entrepreneurship is vital to economic growth, providing a competitive edge to our industries and companies in global markets which are increasingly dominated by low labour cost economies,” Minister Bates said.

EY Entrepreneur Of The Year is considered the world’s most prestigious business award and the only truly global program of its kind, with entrepreneurs participating in 140 cities in more than 50 countries.

Over 1,000 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

2012 EY Entrepreneur Of The Year category winners, Northern region

Category: Emerging
Brendon Levenson – Jetts
In 2007, Brendon Levenson launched a fitness club concept that revolutionised the Australian gym landscape. His no frills, 24/7 club model took an opposite end approach to the traditional gym model, turning the conventional thinking of the industry on its head. Jetts Fitness is now the largest operator of fitness clubs in Australasia with over 165 clubs, servicing 160,000 members. The model utilises technology to strip costs and focuses on the facilities members use on a regular basis, providing a low cost, convenient solution that meets the needs of today’s time poor consumers.
What the judges said: Brendon is a clever and calculated entrepreneur. He has applied a disruptive methodology to an old business model and, in doing so, has reinvented the fitness club industry making Jetts the benchmark for others. Quite measured in the way he scales his business and in his approach to the risk management of financials, Brendon has led Jetts to dominate the national landscape and is looking to take it international. With his entrepreneurial mind and clear goals on his controlled expansion method, Brendon’s is a story that has success written all over it.

Category: Industry
Phillip Di Bella – Di Bella Coffee

Phillip Di Bella is the owner and founder of Australia’s largest and most awarded specialty coffee company. In just 10 years, Phillip turned minimal capital into a thriving enterprise and a leader in one of the most competitive and saturated environments. The company’s growth has been impressive with recent expansion into Asian markets, with offices in India and Shanghai. Phillip has built this leading specialty coffee company through innovation; creating a fully integrated specialty coffee company that also operates in the specialty instant and energy categories – with TORQ Natural Instant Coffee and PUCC, a ready to drink coffee – as well as introducing refillable pods to counter the pod monopoly.
What the judges said: Phillip is an entrepreneur who controls his destiny. He has built a business that is strong and profitable, and the clever way in which he has developed the vertical integration from crop to cup has placed Di Bella Coffee in a strong position. His diversification of product is incredible and he calculates the way in which he penetrates international markets with outstanding success. Phillip’s overarching approach to setting the appropriate corporate structures to support the international markets in which he operates in will continue to place him as a dominating force in this industry.

Category: Services
Gary Gardner – FK Gardner & Sons

Gary Gardner has been at the helm of FK Gardner & Sons (FKG) for over 36 years. Modest beginnings in construction saw the business expand over two decades, and eight years ago Gary seized the opportunity to move into the civil construction arena. FKG has a number of divisions, with construction, civil, plant hire, commercial development, farming and camp services rounding out the organisation’s Queensland-based operations. Gary is looking to increase FKG’s multiplicity and strengthen its presence within the mining and coal seam gas sectors through large scale investment and working closely with existing key clients.
What the judges said: FK Gardner & Sons is a great Queensland business and Gary is an entrepreneur with an incredible long term growth story. He has created a business that has navigated the growth pains of a family company to now successfully compete against the big players. The manner in which he has made strategic decisions, moving his business model to suit current situations and make the most of the market, is not easy for any business. By creating a breadth of business to reduce the overall risk, Gary has delivered long term profitability.

Category: Technology
Janine Garrett – charmHealth

Drawing on her experience as a clinical pharmacist, in 2000 Janine Garrett started developing software for the health industry. charmHealth is a market leader in clinical software, which is used by clients in hospitals and private practice to improve patient care and safety. A consulting team helps with implementing software and business analysis. More than 50,000 cancer patient treatment episodes per year are managed by charmHealth. Janine aims to grow charmHealth in a planned, sustainable way so that she can respond to technology changes in the health industry. By partnering with other organisations, she plans to strengthen the health informatics industry to the point that it can expand into international markets. What the judges said: Janine has displayed guts, determination and fantastic entrepreneurialism. Identifying a gap within the health service, she has developed software to help hospitals and private practices improve patient care and safety. Taking this cutting edge technology from the backyard and selling it into the health services industry, Janine has turned this opportunity into a multi-million dollar business with the potential to become a truly international business. Janine has the opportunity to put herself, charmHealth and Australia on the map with this revolutionary health service software.

2012 EY Entrepreneur Of The Year non-competitive award recipients, Northern region
The Social entrepreneur and Listed award recipient will go on to compete at the National awards against their regional counterparts.

Category: Listed award
Don Meij – Domino’s Pizza Enterprises

Domino’s Pizza Enterprises (Domino’s) is the largest master franchise of the Domino’s Pizza International brand with 900 stores across Australia, New Zealand, France, the Netherlands and Belgium. It offers pizza for home delivery, take-away and most recently dine-in at their flagship Surfers Paradise store. Don Meij became Chief Executive Officer in 2002 and listed Domino’s on the ASX in 2005. Don has turned Domino’s into a profitable enterprise by championing Domino’s move into online sales ahead of the trend. Domino’s was the first pizza company to launch a mobile website and applications for Android and iPhone. In the last four years, Domino’s has seen growth at 24% net profit after tax.

Category: Social entrepreneur
Graeme Wood AM – Artology and Wild Mob

Graeme revolutionised the travel industry in Australia when he created the concept for, and co-founded, in 2000. Graeme has since donated more than 10 percent of his net worth to charity. Graeme is also the founder of the not for profit Artology, whose goal is youth development and social change through the arts. The flagship program of Artology is WotOpera, a highly innovative opera education initiative that unlocks the innate creativity in each young person. Graeme was 2008 Suncorp Queenslander of the Year and in 2012 was made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in the Australia Day Honours.

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.

Thérèse Rein – Ingeus and Assure Programs
Thérèse Rein is the Founder and Managing Director of Ingeus, an Australian company operating from more than 150 locations across the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, South Korea, Poland, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Australia and New Zealand. Ingeus has provided employment services since 1989 and today assists more than 100,000 socially and financially excluded people into independence every year through their journey into suitable, sustained employment.

Ingeus is now the largest provider of employment services in the United Kingdom following the introduction of the Work Programme, and employs more than 1,900 people worldwide. Thérèse is at the forefront of Ingeus’ efforts to help governments and international bodies better understand and respond to workforce participation challenges. In October 2011, Ingeus acquired Assure Programs, a business psychology services company providing employee assistance programs and organisational development in Australia and New Zealand, to further empower and inspire authentic change in the lives of others.

In addition to her work with Ingeus and Assure Programs, Thérèse also plays an active role in her patronages for a number of organisations which support people with a disability and their carers. In 2010, Thérèse was awarded the Australian Human Rights Medal for her ongoing work in improving the lives of people with a disability.


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