2017’s top Queensland Entrepreneurs revealed

Thursday, 27 July 2017

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Queensland’s top entrepreneurs have taken home honors from the 2017 Entrepreneur Of The Year™ Northern Region awards ceremony held last night at Brisbane City Hall. Six National finalists were chosen from an outstanding field of entrepreneurs to go through to the next round of the 2017 program. They are:

  • Graham Booysen - Cornetts Supermarkets
  • Susannah George - The Urban List
  • Vincent Huang - V Resource
  • Ben Markwell - INSELEC
  • John McLean - Bundaberg Brewed Drinks
  • Billy Simmonds - Eco Superfoods

Also recognised in non-competitive regional award categories were:

  • Social entrepreneur - Nicholas Marchesi and Lucas Patchett, Orange Sky Laundry
  • Champion of Entrepreneurship – Stuart Bishop, Wallace Bishop Jewellers

The National finalists and Social entrepreneur will go on to represent the Northern Region at the national awards in November where they will compete for the title of 2017 Australian Entrepreneur Of The Year™.

The overall 2017 winner will be named at a gala ceremony in Melbourne on 1 November 2017. The national winner will then go on to represent the country and compete in the EY World Entrepreneur of the Year™ awards in Monte Carlo next June, following in the footsteps of 2015 winner Many Stul, Chairman and Co-CEO of toy company Moose Enterprises who became the first ever Australian to with the title of EY World Entrepreneur of the Year™.

Queensland Managing Partner, Ernst & Young Australia, Paul Laxon, said this year’s Northern Region finalists demonstrate the fantastic entrepreneurial talent we have in Queensland.

“Entrepreneurship drives innovation and these finalists are an inspiration. They are creating jobs and productivity and driving both our local and national economies forward.

“Each of these entrepreneurs should be very proud – to reach this stage is a significant milestone. We wish our Queenslanders every success both in the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year Award™ and in their outstanding businesses,” said Mr Laxon.

EY Entrepreneur of the Year™ is considered one of the world’s most prestigious business awards and is the only truly global program of its kind with entrepreneurs participating in 145 cities in more than 60 countries. More than 1,500 outstanding entrepreneurs have been recognised through the EY Entrepreneur of the Year™ program in Australia since 2001.

For more information on EY Entrepreneur of the Year™ go to www.ey.com/au/eoy

EY Entrepreneur of the Year™ National Finalists, Northern Region

Graham Booysen - Cornetts Supermarkets
Cornetts’ CEO Graham Booysen is the supermarket chain’s turnaround man, who three years ago made a pact with its board that he could bring the ailing company back to profitability. In 30 minutes, he produced a proposal for the board that would streamline the business and accelerate sales growth.

Graham’s methods were tough but fair. He began to reduce the number of stores, slim down the workforce, retrain staff and bring in new digital systems.

The company has shown a profit since financial year 2014. With 33 stores and sales growing, Cornetts is looking to expand the number of stores in its portfolio.

Judges’ Comments
“Having turned around a major liquor division in South Africa, in Australia he’s saved Cornetts retail chain with an innovative strategy which has delivered outstanding success whilst displaying strong community involvement”.

Susannah George - The Urban List
Susannah George is the founder of The Urban List, Australia and New Zealand’s largest local lifestyle guide.

Launched in 2011 from humble beginnings in her bedroom, The Urban List has emerged as one of the region’s fastest-growing, most influential lifestyle destinations, attracting more than 2.5 million visitors each month.

The idea was born from Susannah’s passion for small business – a curated city guide, driving new customers to the operators she loved. Today, the reach and influence of The Urban List audience has attracted a customer base of the world’s most influential lifestyle brands, tourism bodies, restaurants and retailers.

The revenue and audience size has doubled every year since its launch and the site now services seven markets with further geographic expansion planned for 2017.

Judges’ Comments
“Returning from living in Paris and LA to Australia, Susannah identified a need for travellers to live like locals and now has Australia’s largest curated lifestyle website with global aspirations”.

Vincent Huang - V Resource
V Resource operates the only licensed lead acid battery recycling operation in Queensland. The founder, Vincent Huang, developed and patented a proprietary treatment process that removes more sulphur from lead than its domestic competitors.

Without V Resource’s recycling plant, lead acid batteries in Queensland would likely end up in landfills, potentially producing contaminated run offs that could pollute Queensland's waterways.

V Resource is in the process of constructing a fully integrated, fully automated smart recycling plant (to replace its prototype plant) to enhance its processing capacity and operational capabilities to serve the Queensland market.

The company earned revenues of $10.1 million in FY2016 and is expected to achieve revenues of over $13 million in FY2017.

Judges’ Comments
“Vincent’s is a classic immigrant success story. Having been involved in many businesses, he saw a new way of treating batteries and patented the process and now has substantial growth opportunities.”

Ben Markwell - INSELEC
Ben Markwell wanted to improve the way the electricity industry recruited personnel, so INSELEC devised its own matching technology, a new way to marry electricians’ skills with the sometimes complex and difficult jobs requested by clients.

From its beginnings in Brisbane’s Red Hill four years ago, electrical recruitment specialist INSELEC has enjoyed remarkable growth, with revenues in fiscal 2016 at around $18 million.

The company had grown quickly in Queensland and now has offices in Sydney and Perth, with a Melbourne office coming soon. Ben is well on the way to making INSELEC a national business.

Judges’ Comments
“A driven young entrepreneur who started his first business at 18 now owns and runs a focused electrical workforce solution, providing for a blue chip customer base”.

John McLean - Bundaberg Brewed Drinks
Bundaberg Brewed Drinks is an Australian family owned company based in the small Queensland town that shares its name, Bundaberg. For generations, the company has been craft brewing premium non-alcoholic beverages using time-honoured brewing methods and quality ingredients.

John McLean took over as Chief Executive Officer in 2007 with a mission to grow the business both domestically and internationally whilst maintaining the strong entrenched family values.

Since then, the company’s unique range of 12 brews have been exported to over 44 countries around the world with a continued growth focus on both domestic and international market development.

Judges’ Comments
“In the ultra-competitive soft drinks market from a small regional Australian base, John has created a differentiated product and authentic company culture with a global opportunity.”

Billy Simmonds - Eco Superfoods
Billy Simmonds, a former bank executive and Mr Universe bodybuilding winner, established Eco Superfoods in 2014. Eco Superfoods manufactures and distributes natural supplements. Its products are carried in all major supplement and health retailers Australia-wide and its vegan status is a point of difference.

Billy has recently implemented two exciting initiatives. A new CRM tool enabling end-to-end tracking of products and the appointment of a Head of Production and Operations.

Eco Superfoods is preparing to release a hemp seed product and is opening a US manufacturing facility. The business recorded $3.8 million in revenues in the 2015/2016 financial year.

Judges’ Comments
“The world’s first vegan Mr Universe, he so believed in organic supplements that he’s created a company which is now on its way to being a world leader”.

2017 EY Entrepreneur Of The Year non-competitive award recipients, Northern Region

Social entrepreneur
Nicholas Marchesi and Lucas Patchett - Orange Sky Laundry

Nicholas Marchesi and Lucas Patchett co-founded Orange Sky Laundry, one of the world's first free mobile laundries for the homeless. The business now has 13 vans and 800 volunteers on the road and recorded annual revenues of $1.7 million in the last financial year.

When vans are not washing and drying clothes for free, they are used to train and employ people doing it tough. Orange Sky can respond to people affected by homelessness temporarily through natural disasters.

In Brisbane, Orange Sky has won a number of commercial laundry contracts, executed by eight homeless friends. During 2017, the company hopes to expand throughout Australia, helping people in remote Indigenous communities and creating employment opportunities for people in each state.

Champion of Entrepreneurship
Stuart Bishop – Wallace Bishop Jewellers

Stuart Bishop of Wallace Bishop Jewellers began his career at the age of 17 and he is the 4th generation successor of the company, being appointed CEO of the Group in 2012. Stuart studied at the Gemological Institute of America and has gained distinction in various Jewellery Industry Awards.

Stuart has been involved in all areas of the business, holding positions in retail, repairs, design and management over the course of his career within the Group. Stuart continues to design and commission bespoke jewellery, and personally selects all diamonds available in Wallace Bishop stores.

Stuart is the Chairman of the Membership Committee of the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron for over 10 years. He is also a Member of the Brisbane Rotary Club and holds membership of the Brisbane Club and the Queensland Club.

About EY Entrepreneur Of The YearTM

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 1,400 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

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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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