Celebrating Excellence

Elements of Byron was the venue for the 2017 NSW Business Chamber Northern Rivers Awards. It was a night of celebrating business from the region and acknowledging and rewarding those businesses that have gone the extra mile.

Now in its fourth year, the Business Awards recognise excellence in business, leadership, entrepreneurship, sustainability, innovation, business growth and employment practices across the Northern Rivers region.

Businesses both big and small picked up awards rising to the stage to accept them just as they rose to the challenges of running a business.

It’s a testament to the region’s resilience that just a few short months ago the area was subjected to widespread flooding which devastated homes and businesses alike.

Murwillumbah & District Business Chamber showed their true strength by developing innovative strategies to assist their membership base and wider community to recover and rebuild after the weather event. This along with their successful event marketing and membership growth strategies won them the Local Chamber of Commerce Award.

Northern Rivers NSW Business Chamber Regional Manager, Jane Laverty, said this year’s finalists represent a fantastic cross section of businesses from right across the Northern Rivers.

“These awards are a wonderful opportunity to celebrate excellence in the local business community and showcase their success at a local, regional and state level,” Ms Laverty said.

GSAC Wins Regional Gong and Looks to State Award

Goonellabah Sports & Aquatic Centre

Goonellabah Sports & Aquatic Centre (GSAC) has come home with gold from the Northern Rivers Business Awards held in Byron Bay.

GSAC won the 2017 Personal Services category and is now in the running to win the state award in Sydney this October. Council’s Manager of Major Recreation and Cultural Facilities Tony Duffy said in the last 12 months the team had made big changes in the delivery of customer services, which was definitely paying off.

“We have really focused on bonding the team together and listening to ideas from people on the floor – the swimming teachers, the gym trainers, the people who know what works for their members,” Tony said.

“Being a Council-owned facility, there has been a tendency for a top-down management approach, but we have worked really hard to change that and make sure those people who know the community best are involved in the development of programs, events and methods of delivery.

“Our staff have a newfound enthusiasm and love for their work, and ultimately we are seeing that reflected in the services we provide and the fact our members are really happy with our facility.”

The GSAC facility encompasses a 24-hour gym, swimming pools and waterslide, sports stadium and café as well as a multitude of sport, swimming and fitness programs for all ages. It has been open since 2009, and was recently rebranded with a new reception and café area, new uniforms and a new sense of team pride.

The Pesties In Blue Are Winning


No one could accuse Active Pest Management of being a wallflower business. They are front and centre on the Northern Rivers’ business landscape and continue to dial up the volume on their ‘Pesties in Blue’ branding so you can’t miss them.

This year, Active Pest have won three Business Excellence awards, two in the Ballina Coast & Hinterland sector and most recently, they are delighted to be announced the Northern Rivers Regional Business Winner within Trades & Manufacturing. All on top of previous wins in 2013 and 2016. Now they are off to the NSW Business Chamber State Finals this November in Sydney. The ‘Pesties in Blue’ have come a long way from humble beginnings seven years ago.

This year has presented numerous challenges including an excessively wet summer, followed by a mild but extremely dry winter. Add to those factors the fast-evolving science of non-chemical pest management and bio-compounds targeting specific pests, it’s easy to understand there’s a lot to keep in front of against the background of an increasingly pressured economy.

As Active Pest co-owner and pre-construction specialist Tony Dunn alluded to in his acceptance speech at the 2017 NSW Business Chamber Awards on August 29, “What many people wouldn’t be aware of outside the industry is that several well-known national pest control brands have been taken over by international conglomerates, taking profits off-shore.

The Pesties In Blue Are Winning “We are finding customers are more than happy to support local businesses which is reassuring for us in this highly competitive industry. That’s why it’s vitally important that we differentiate our business with strong marketing messages that educate and inform customers about who we are, where we’re from and what we offer.”

Jim Burgess, expert bug guru and the other half of Active Pest’s ownership duo says “People don’t necessarily pay attention to who they’re going to call for pest control. They notice spiders dangling from the ceiling and cockroaches in the cupboards and probably go to search on Google. But, we want people to recognise our bright blue advertising and recall our radio spots with the tagline ‘The Pesties in Blue’. When they visit our website, they’ll see we tick a lot of boxes in that we’re local, fully licenced, insured and using only the highest quality, environmentally-responsible pest management techniques available.

“To stay ahead in the pest control field, we need to run a tight ship and keep abreast of industry developments and legislation. At the same time, administrative practices and field technologies are continually upgrading at record pace. It is imperative to our continued success that we work on our business as much as work in it, Jim asserts.

“We’re proud of our achievements so far and look forward to keeping pace with this everchanging industry into the future.”

SCCU Wins Regional Award for Professional Excellence


Southern Cross Credit Unions’ professionalism and outstanding performance was again recognised as the credit union won the Excellence in Professional Services Award at the Northern Rivers Business Excellence Awards for the second year running.

CEO Stuart Edwards said receiving the award was acknowledgement of his teams’ hard work, dedication and commitment to providing professional and exceptional service to customers and the greater Northern Rivers business community.

“To be recognised as a finalist alongside a group of fantastic businesses is wonderful, to win for the second year running is very humbling. Our team is dedicated to delivering exceptional service to our customers by establishing meaningful relationships and taking a genuine interest in them as people.”

With a focus on people, including employees and customers, Mr Edwards says this is their point of difference. “Our people matter and this is the true difference that sets us apart from our competition.” Strong performance over the past two years has meant the Credit Union has been able to invest in technology and projects that benefit the organisation, customers, employees and the community.

“We are proud of our strong performance over the past two years, which has enabled us to invest in our organisation to deliver even better value to our customers. We are very thankful for the support of our team, our customers and our community. Without them we would not be the success we are today.”

Southern Cross Credit Union is well known for its support of the local community. In 2016, their inaugural Community Grants program was launched with the awarding of three $5,000 grants to local groups in support of projects that have a positive impact on the local community. Recipients of the Grants in 2016 were Community Owned Renewable Energy Mullumbimby (COREM), Liberation Larder and Big Scrub Orchestra.

In 2017, Community Grants are back again with more than 50 local groups in the running. Voting is now open, and you can register your vote for your favourite community group in branch, or online at: ($):“http://www.sccu.com.au”.

Good Luck for State Awards

The 2017 Northern Rivers Business Awards showcase the diverse array of talent in the region’s business community. We wish them luck as they go forward to the State awards in Sydney in October.

“This year’s winners should feel incredibly proud to be named as the region’s leading businesses for 2017, and we wish them every success as they continue to represent the Northern Rivers at the NSW Business Chamber State Business Awards later this year”, said Jane Laverty, Regional Manager, Northern Rivers.

Regional award winners going through to the state awards are:

2017 Regional Business of the Year h4. 2017 Excellence in Business h4. 2017 Excellence in Export

Brookfarm is a generational family owned business based in Byron Bay and a leading regional food manufacturer in the Northern Rivers region. The business produces premium quality macadamia products for the Australian and export markets. Their processes and attention to quality has given them a competitive advantage in the export market as a recognised and trusted brand. They are furthermore contributing to and supporting rural and regional Australia by creating real jobs, opportunities and helping the local community

2017 Excellence in Small Business

Aurora Suspended Fires
Aurora Suspended Fires is a family owned business and the exclusive manufacturer and distributor of suspended fireplaces in Australia, one of only three companies globally specialising in these unique fires. A substantial year on year sales growth of 59% shows how well received their unique offerings has been.

2017 Excellence in Social Enterprise Award

Yaru Water
Yaru Water is an Australian family business specialising in more than just water, it tells an important cultural story whilst empowering disadvantaged Australian indigenous communities. There is a considerable health gap existing between indigenous and nonindigenous Australians and addressing this is one of the organisation’s top priorities.

2017 Young Entrepreneur

Jeremy Holmes, Elements of Byron
Jeremy Holmes is a 35 year old Development Director for Elements of Byron, a world class Beachfront resort providing luxury accommodation for a variety of guests and purposes. Jeremy has worked for the company since its start in 2010 and has worked hard to provide Byron Bay with a quality full service accommodation since then.

2017 Business Leader

Karen Justice, Just for Pets
Karen Justice is CEO for Just for Pets, a buying group representing independent pet retailers across Australia and plays an important role in a sad social problem of unwanted animals. Her ability to inspire, motivate and bringing employees together, both in good and bad times, has contributed to the success of the business.

2017 Young Business Executive

Johnson Hunter, The Farm
Johnson Hunter is the General Manager for The Farm Byron Bay, a working farm that houses a collection of micro-businesses. Growing up on a farm and seeing the hard work behind farming has formed his passion for agriculture and love for the land.

2017 Start Up Superstar

Cape Byron Distillery
Cape Byron Distillery is a farm distillery in the hinterland of Byron Bay producing Brookie’s Gin, a beautifully balanced combination of the finest traditional and local botanicals. The company specialises in creating the highest quality spirits that encompass elements from its natural surroundings whilst honouring traditions and staying true to the art of distillation.

2017 Excellence in Sustainability h4. 2017 Employer of Choice

SAE Group
SAE Group is one of the largest energy efficient companies on the Eastern Seaboard of Australia specialising in energy efficient technology such as solar power, air conditioning and electrical work. The company constantly works to ensure that the business is environmentally sustainable, their volunteer “Green Team” ensure that everyone is well informed and use office recycling and energy
usage appropriately.

2017 Excellence in Innovation

Bee Inventive
Bee Inventive is a family owned company and is behind the multi award-winning honey harvesting system, Flow Hive. The innovation has changed the whole honey harvesting industry and it now allows beekeepers to remove the honey from a langstroth hive without removing the frames and disturbing the bees.

2017 Local Chamber of Commerce

Murwillumbah & District Business Chamber
Over the past 12 months the Chamber has achieved significant membership growth and held a number of successful events such as Santaland & Mindshop Excellence that enrich the business and local community. The Chamber developed innovative strategies to assist members and community after the March floods.

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