20 of Australia's best small businesses show off the sector's strength

Media Release, 25 June 2013

Many of the best Australian small businesses of the past 20 years have gone on to compete successfully in overseas markets or become part of international organisations. Others have experienced significant growth in their domestic operations.

An ebook released today to celebrate the 20th year of the Telstra Australian Business Awards features the inspirational stories - written by the owners or founders themselves - of 20 national Awards winners from 1992 to 2011.*

Along with fascinating insights from the winners on leadership, overcoming challenges and surviving setbacks, the ebook illustrates why small and medium businesses are the lifeblood of Australia, according to Will Irving, Telstra Business Group Managing Director and Ambassador of the Awards.

“Small and medium businesses are taking Australian innovation and expertise to the world. Without exception, these 20 businesses are outstanding examples of local success, domestic expansion and international growth,” Mr Irving said.

“Some started out in a spare bedroom with a single idea and are now recognised as leaders in their field. Their success reflects not only the soundness of their strategies and the excellence of their execution but also the vision, focus, passion and sheer determination of those who founded them.”

The ebook can be accessed at telstrabusinessawards.com. It begins with Hatch IAS, formerly Industrial Automation Services of Warabrook near Newcastle which was sold to global engineering firm Hatch in 2008, and ends with 2011 Telstra Australian Business of the Year, Perth-headquartered Australian Pressure Testing Services (APTS) which recently formed a new company with British Rototherm.

Eight of the 20 businesses have been acquired by larger corporations, including Brisbane’s Gresham Cosmetics, a 2001 winner bought out by multinationals that had been its competitors, and ACT cyber security experts stratsec acquired by BAE Systems five months after winning the top Award in 2010.

Other winners include Saferight, from Belmont in WA, which built up and later sold manufacturing facilities in the US, Mexico, Canada and South Africa and employed 650 people. Founded by former Special Air Services Regiment senior sniper instructor Mack McCormack, Saferight designed and installed the fall protection system that enables tourists to climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge in complete safety.

The winners reflect on their experiences in the Awards, with APTS CEO Paul Newbound urging business to enter the Awards “as a springboard to dream bigger. The whole process helps you to step outside your comfort zone and dare to grow your company into areas you never imagined possible,” he said.

Telstra established the Awards in 1992, initially in conjunction with Australian Governments, to recognise the achievements of small and medium businesses and to encourage strategic planning for business growth.

More than 160 businesses are finalists for the 2012 Telstra Australian Business Awards. They are competing for state and territory Awards to be announced at events between 5 July in Hobart and 31 July in Melbourne. The national Awards will be held in Sydney on 29 August.