Gunnedah businesses saw great success at the 2017 New England North West Regional Business Awards on Friday night.
Wholegrain Milling Company was named Regional Business of the Year and also took out the Excellence in Innovation Category. Riley’s Furniture and Carpets was a dual-winner in the Start-up Superstar category with Goonoo Goonoo Station, and Gunnedah and District Chamber of Commerce was named Local Chamber of the Year.
Wholegrain Milling business manager Mathew Jensen said the acknowledgement “enhances our team environment and promotes that momentum, the journey that we’re on”.
“It will be business as usual, but we will continue to promote what we’re doing and … that others believe that there is recognition in what we have done too,” he said.
Chamber of Commerce president, Michael Broekman, said the atmosphere at the event was “upbeat”, particularly when Gunnedah business owners took to the stage.
“It was very pleasing for Gunnedah to receive the recognition that it did on the night, especially for business of the year Wholegrain Milling, which has been a quiet achiever for a number of years doing excellent work, putting Gunnedah on the map,” he said.
Mr Broekman said the Start-up Superstar award for Riley’s was a “great feather” in Jodi and Stuart Dolbel’s cap.
“Expanding a business and combining other businesses altogether is a massive task, so well done for Dolbels,” he said.
Jodi Dolbel said she was “completely overwhelmed” when Riley’s was announced, and it was “the absolutely last thing that we were expecting”.
In their nomination application, she said they highlighted the fact that the progress the business had made in the last 11 months was on par with their plans and projections.
“By awarding us, [the NSW Business Chamber] can also see the potential that we can see in our concept and business plan,” she said.
“It just confirms that we’re heading in the right direction.”
Mrs Dolbel said she and her husband owed a lot to their “enthusiastic” team.
“We really need to just recognise the dedication from not only Stuart and I, but our staff,” she said.
“There is now way in the world we could have done it on our own.”
The Gunnedah chamber is also celebrating success at the awards.
“The chamber and chamber members were ecstatic to win this for a second time and we thank Guyra for coming down and being a part of the evening but we were glad that we won it and not them,” Mr Broekman said.
“Many thanks go to the executive that work extremely hard behind-the-scenes and the members themselves for participating in the different events we put on throughout the year.
“We’re looking forward to going to state. We’ll put our best foot forward for Gunnedah businesses at the state event but regardless of what happens at state we’re very proud of what we’ve done in 2017 as a chamber.”
Mr Broekman said he was also thankful to Gunnedah Shire Council “for the support that they give us”.
“It’s very rewarding to have that support, both organisations having a strong focus on economic development, which is what will eventually keep this community sustainable into the future,” he said.
Jamie Chaffey said he was “very proud” to be the mayor of Gunnedah, and felt there was “a great representation of LGA around our region with a strong presence from Armidale, Inverell, Tamworth, Quirindi and Guyra”.
“Being a business owner myself, I think it’s very appropriate that we celebrate the achievements of businesses within our own region knowing full well that small business is the backbone of our community and our economy,” he said.
“I was particularly pleased to see that majority of the finalists in the regional awards were small business owners that are doing great things in our community.
“I give my full support to all of the winners from our region that will now go onto the state finals that will be held in Sydney later this year.
“I wish them the best of luck and Gunnedah will be barracking for them.”
Excellence in Small Business Award: Daily Ritual
Excellence in Business Award: Sigma Aerospace
Young Business Executive: Samuel Collier, Kenway & Clark
Young Entrepreneur: Scott Williams, White Leaf Dental, Armidale
Business Leader: Deborah Hunter, Rusden St Physiotherapy and WorkHealth Australia
Excellence in Social Enterprise Award: Saumarez Homestead
Start Up Superstar: (dual winners) Riley’s Furniture & Carpets and Goonoo Goonoo Station
Employer of Choice: Tamworth Community College
Excellence in Sustainability: New England Regional Art Museum
Local Chamber of Commerce: Gunnedah and District Chamber of Commerce