Queensland entrepreneurs take home top honours

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Four outstanding Queensland entrepreneurs took out top honours at last night’s 2015 EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™ Northern Region awards ceremony in Queensland. The winners, by category, were:

  • Emerging – Fred Mohammed, Crane Trucks R Us Pty Ltd
  • Industry – Paul Woosley, Australian Prime Fibre
  • Services – Robert Rowe, Tú Projects Pty Ltd
  • Technology – Peter Wyatt, Record Holdings

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

  • Listed award – Mark Sowerby, Blue Sky Alternative Investments Limited
  • Social entrepreneur – Juliette Wright, GIVIT Listed Ltd
  • Champion of Entrepreneurship – John Van Lieshout, Unison Projects

The Northern Region winners, Social entrepreneur and Listed award recipient will go on to represent the state at the national awards in October, where they will compete for the title of 2015 Australian EY Entrepreneur Of The Year.

EY’s Brisbane Managing Partner, Paul Laxon congratulated the winners saying they were part of a strong field that was indicative of the entrepreneurial spirit that is a hallmark of the state.

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

“This year we are celebrating the 15th anniversary of the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year awards in Australia. Entrepreneurs make a significant contribution to Australia’s economy and to the community by creating jobs, driving productivity, fuelling growth and inspiring others.”

“The 2015 Northern Region awards winners have demonstrated outstanding determination, innovation and entrepreneurial spirit. On behalf of EY, I congratulate them on their achievements and wish them the best of luck when they represent Queensland at the national awards in October,” Mr Laxon said.

Mark Toon, General Manager, Corporate Financial Services, Queensland, Commonwealth Bank said the Northern Region award winners showcase the veracity of the region’s entrepreneurial spirit.

“The awards aim to recognise business leaders who demonstrate a strong determination, attitude and vision, and this year’s winners have strongly demonstrated these qualities.

“Commonwealth Bank is the principal sponsor of the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year Awards, and we are proud to play a part in recognising the outstanding entrepreneurial talent that the Northern Region continues to produce. Each of the award winners has made a significant contribution to the economic development of the industry in which they operate, and the region as a whole,” Mr. Toon said.

EY Entrepreneur Of The Year is considered the world’s most prestigious business award and is the only truly global program of its kind, with entrepreneurs participating in 145 cities in more than 60 countries. Over 1,400 outstanding entrepreneurs have been recognised through the Entrepreneur Of The Year program in Australia since 2001.

The overall 2015 Australian winner will be named at a gala ceremony in Sydney on 15 October. 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 last year’s Australian winners Joe Davenport and Owen Kerr of Pepperstone.

For more information on the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year program go to www.ey.com/au/eoy.

2015 EY Entrepreneur Of The Year category winners, Northern Region

Category: Emerging
Fred Mohammed – Crane Trucks R Us Pty Ltd
Originally apprenticed as a plumber, Fred Mohammed set up multiple businesses, from plumbing and printing laminates to transport and driver training. Crane Trucks R Us is a specialised transport company with 90 employees and a fleet of 230 vehicles. Although his core business is transport, Fred also provides skills training, line haul services, warehouse and storage facilities. The company services the resources, industrial, construction and government sectors. Fred would like to grow to 50% of Australian market share and become one of Australia’s largest providers of specialised equipment. Over the next five years, he will look to expand into Asia.
What the judges said: Fred Mohammed is an outstanding young entrepreneur who has executed an impressive business plan which has delivered exceptional growth year on year. Crane Trucks R Us has demonstrated strong growth in both revenue and profitability.

Category: Industry
Paul Woosley – Australian Prime Fibre
Paul Woosley has a knack for finding ways to do things more efficiently. This has served him well in growing Australian Prime Fibre from a stock feed business into Australia’s largest producer of sugar cane mulches. Australian Prime Fibre’s core business is compression packaging, and Paul has developed the fastest compression baler in the world. The company produces a range of organic-based home garden and commercial horticultural products. It also provides automated packaging systems across Australia and New Zealand. In the short-term, Paul wants to expand production facilities into the border region of NSW and Victoria, while looking for off-shore opportunities.
What the judges said: Paul Woosley is a serial entrepreneur who, when faced with challenges, finds innovative ways to overcome them. Australian Prime Fibre already dominates the local garden mulch market and is poised to continue its growth overseas.

Category: Services
Robert Rowe – Tú Projects Pty Ltd
Having grown up in a family of shopfitters, Robert Rowe saw an opportunity to develop technology which would revolutionise the shop fitting industry. When he started Tú Projects Pty Ltd (Tú Projects), he was 23 and had just $64 in his bank account. Tú Projects provides interior fit-outs to businesses of all sizes and across several industries. The company’s use of technology makes it one of the most sophisticated fit-out businesses in Australia, with software which allows clients to track the cost and progression at each stage of their project. Robert believes Tú Projects is successful because it “helps build businesses, not just shops.
What the judges said: Robert Rowe is a passionate entrepreneur with a ‘have a go’ attitude and drive to succeed. With Tú Projects, Robert has created an impressive, vertically integrated business in the fit out and commercial construction industry. He has been able to achieve significant financial returns alongside an excellent culture.

Category: Technology
Peter Wyatt – Record Holdings
Peter Wyatt had been running his own businesses for 25 years and had even retired before he purchased Auscript out of administration in 2004, saving 350 jobs. Today, Brisbane-based Record Holdings is the 100% owner of Auscript and For The Record (FTR), together valued at A$100 million. Auscript is the market leader in mission-critical digital recording and transcription services for justice, business, government and law enforcement clients in Australia. FTR’s digital evidence recording software is used in over 65 countries and installed in more than 27,000 courtrooms, giving it a 60% share of the world market.
What the judges said: Peter Wyatt is a disciplined entrepreneur who has led Record Holdings to dominate the Australian legal transcripts market. Peter has invested in the research and development of voice to text technology – shortening the turnaround time so that court recordings can be provided to legal professionals within one day rather than the industry standard of two weeks. Record Holdings has disrupted the market in Australia and has a solid plan to extend the business model to overseas markets.

2015 EY Entrepreneur Of The Year non-competitive award recipients, Northern Region

Category: Listed award
Mark Sowerby – Blue Sky Alternative Investments Limited
In 2007, Mark Sowerby saw the opportunity to solve a problem Australians didn’t know they had – lack of access to a quality dedicated alternative asset manager. Blue Sky Alternative Investments Limited (Blue Sky) is Australia’s first domestic alternative fund manager, with investments across all four primary alternative asset classes. Listing on the ASX in 2012, Blue Sky has 70 staff, a market capitalisation of $250 million, over $1billion in Assets Under Management, and has backed more than 20 Australian companies creating 2500 direct jobs. In 2014, Blue Sky listed the world’s first diversified alternatives fund and has also pioneered investment into Australian water rights.

Category: Social entrepreneur
Juliette Wright – GIVIT Listed Ltd
Juliette Wright is on a mission to alleviate the effects of poverty across Australia. Founder and CEO of GIVIT, Juliette created the online platform in 2009 to connect those who have with those who need and inspiring an online network of givers. In 2011 when Queensland was hit by devastating floods, GIVIT became the state government’s official website for matching donations with 1.8 million hits resulting in 33,500 goods matched over three weeks. Juliette’s vision, hard work and determination resulted in donations of almost 150,000 items to disadvantaged members of the Australian community, earning the title of finalist in Australia’s Local Hero 2015.

Category: Champion of Entrepreneurship
John Van Lieshout – Unison Projects
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.
Starting as a junior cleaning windows and toilets at a furniture store, John Van Lieshout worked his way up to dispatch and then second-floor bedding sales. He and his workmate and lifelong friend, John Pilkington, supplemented their income by buying trade-ins which they repaired, restored and sold from a garage at weekends. In 1969, the 23-year-old and his new bride Linda used their $2000 house deposit savings to open a furniture store with Mr Pilkington. By the time John bought out his partner in 1984, Super A-Mart furniture had six stores. John grew the Super A-Mart furniture chain to 21 ‘’big box’’ stores in, capturing more than 20% of market share based on a simple ‘product and price’ philosophy. After rejecting several approaches to list the company, he sold the business to private equity in 2006 for $500 million. John retained ownership of the buildings the stores occupied. They are now part of a vast property portfolio.


About EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™
EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™ is the world’s most prestigious business award for entrepreneurs. The unique 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.

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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