Central Region EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™ finalists revealed

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

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Organic growth will be the priority for South Australia’s leading entrepreneurs in the coming year, with 13 out of 15 SA-based finalists in EY’s Entrepreneur Of The Yearsaying they will steer clear of mergers and acquisitions in the short term.

The 15 successful entrepreneurs from South Australia, who will vie for the top gong of Australian EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™ at the national finals in October, have a collective annual turnover of $334.3 million and just shy of 1500 employees. They span sectors from agribusiness, child-care and manufacturing through to water infrastructure, telecommunications and winemaking.

The finalists are in hiring mode. Janison chief executive Tom Richardson is looking to recruit business development teams to grow the business locally and internationally. Tony Guidera of infrastructure business Guidera O’Connor expects to recruit at least 30 engineers, project managers and trades people across Australia.

Dressed for Sale managing director Tiffany Murray expects to hire at least 10 new stylists and more than 20 delivery teams to service clients in the Sydney and Melbourne.

The attributes Ms Murray most values in workers is “resilience”. “We’re a start-up so often it’s all hands on deck. Resilient team members are prepared to do whatever it takes – they are not bogged down by their job description,” she says.

For Grant Wilckens from Discovery Parks Australia, it’s all about “grit and a relentless focus on the customer.”

“Grit and perseverance. These are the most important attributes I need from my executives and I surround myself with individuals with a passion to succeed in executing their goals,” he says.

For Drew Sellick, managing director of laboratory equipment manufacturer Techno-Plas, “it’s all about being committed to each other and exceeding customer expectations.”

Tax and red tape remain a bug bear of this group.

Asked which federal budget initiative would have the single biggest positive impact on operations, Tom Richardson from Janison said the research and development tax incentive and Export Market Development grants from Austrade have helped develop their export markets.

For Grant Wilckens from Discovery Parks Australia, infrastructure investment in the regions is paramount. “With significant investments in regional economies and a desire to have tourists venture beyond the cities to explore our wonderful natural environments, Discovery Parks relies heavily on regional infrastructure.”

While domestic expansion is a priority, several have an eye on international markets and see this growing in the future.

Tom Richardson says international sales account for 22 percent of annual revenue, up from six percent five years ago. It’s expected to exceed 60 percent by 2023. For Tiffany Murray growth for the next 12 months is expected to remain domestic but she sees international growth in the future for Dressed for Sale.

Mark Phelps, EY Adelaide Managing Partner says, “We have a really diverse range of finalists this year.  A great indication of the breadth of creativity and entrepreneurial spirit alive and well in our state.  With economic conditions gaining momentum, our entrepreneurs are demonstrating what can be done by hard work and outside the box thinking.”

Mr Phelps said EY globally has been celebrating, advising, guiding, recognising and connecting the most successful high-growth entrepreneurs for more than 30 years, not only through the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™ Program, but through the firm’s Global Centre for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.

Kylie Allen, Acting General Manager SA/NT, Corporate Financial Services, Commonwealth Bank, said: “Entrepreneurs are integral to the communities they operate in as they bring jobs and growth and also inspire creativity, passion and persistence. These are elements critical in the modern digital economy and we wish these finalists the best in their future endeavours.

“In a continuing partnership, the Commonwealth Bank is proud to be the principal sponsor of a program that recognises and celebrates Australia’s top business innovators,” Ms Allen said. 

The overall Australian winner will go on to the global program, travelling to Monte Carlo in June 2019 to compete for title of EY World Entrepreneur Of The Year™.

The finalists will be assessed by a panel of independent judges, including previous Entrepreneur Of The Year™ award winners and other successful Australian business leaders, across six core criteria: entrepreneurial spirit, innovation, personal integrity and influence, financial performance, strategic direction, and national and global impact.

Central Region finalists

  • Ray Khabbaz – Australian Wholefoods
  • Lucy Willson/Rebecca Willson – Bremerton Wines
  • Grant Wilckens – Discovery Parks
  • Tiffany Murray – Dressed for Sale
  • Tony Guidera – Guidera O’Connor
  • Nicho Teng – Haneco Lighting/Greaton
  • Tanya Cole – Hessel Group
  • Tom Richardson – Janison
  • Jim Grose – Axiom Precision Manufacturing
  • Rob Damin – Pasture Genetics
  • Steve Butler – Stilmark Telecommunications
  • Drew Sellick – Techno Plas
  • Oscar Fiorinotto – Supashock
  • Sasha Baranikov/Che Metcalfe – Uniti Wireless

Central Region Award Recipients

  • Social entrepreneur: Matthew Woodward – Unity Housing

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About EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™

EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™ is the world’s most prestigious business award for entrepreneurs. The award makes a difference through the way it encourages entrepreneurial activity among those with potential, and recognises the contribution of people who inspire others with their vision, leadership and achievement. As the first and only truly global award of its kind, EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™ celebrates those who are building and leading successful, growing and dynamic businesses, recognising them through regional, national and global awards programs in more than 145 cities in more than 60 countries.

The Australian Entrepreneur Of The Year™ awards program, launched in 2001, is conducted in five regions culminating in the national awards. The program honours entrepreneurs whose ingenuity and perseverance have created and sustained successful, growing business ventures.  Entrepreneur Of The Year’s primary objective is to identify, acknowledge and celebrate the outstanding contribution entrepreneurs make to the Australian business community and economy.

EY encourages women to apply to enter the Entrepreneur Of The Year™ awards. The program supports women entrepreneurs to think bigger, gain access to capital, enhance their business profile, network, learn from their peers and find seasoned advisors.

The Australian Entrepreneur Of The Year™ program now has alumni of over 1,500 entrepreneurs who have participated in the program. Since the program’s inception more than 15,000 people have attended Entrepreneur Of The Year™ events and award ceremonies in Australia.

About EY

EY is a global leader in assurance, tax, transaction and advisory services. The insights and quality services we deliver help build trust and confidence in the capital markets and in economies the world over. We develop outstanding leaders who team to deliver on our promises to all of our stakeholders. In so doing, we play a critical role in building a better working world for our people, for our clients and for our communities.

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This news release has been issued by Ernst & Young Australia, a member firm of Ernst & Young Global Limited.

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