Electronics manufacturer named South Australian Business of the Year

Media Release, 30 June 2014

REDARC, an innovative electronics manufacturer with a customer base extending to North America, France and New Zealand, is the 2014 Telstra South Australian Business of the Year.

The award was presented tonight by the South Australian Treasurer and Minister for Small Business Tom Koutsantonis at the Adelaide Entertainment Centre.

Owners Anthony and Michelle Kittel have transformed REDARC from a small business they purchased in 1997 into a research and development-driven manufacturer of patented battery charging, portable solar, electronic safety and voltage convertor products that now employs 95 people at its Lonsdale plant.

REDARC’s diversified range of electronic accessories and power sources is used in the automotive, trucking, mining, industrial, recreational vehicle, defence, agricultural and marine markets.

Anthony Kittel said: “Our entire model is based on innovation – we put technological development at the forefront of everything we do. Our products can be fitted to anything with a battery that moves.

“Our success has come from an unrelenting focus on new product development, employing and developing highly skilled people and providing excellent technical and after sales customer support. We continually invest at least 15 per cent of our revenue back into R&D and also make a significant investment in staff training.”

In 2005, REDARC took a big risk in spending the equivalent of its turnover in building a new factory. “We established a magnificent facility, bucking the downward trend in manufacturing,” Mr Kittel said.

Other winners of the Telstra South Australian Business Awards were Lee and Jan Stokes, who have driven a stylish renovation of the Clare Valley Motel, John Curnow, whose Payneham business Virtual Ad Agency has customers in every Australian state and territory, and Zoi Kokoti and Stephen Lowery, who offer classical French, modern Irish and Mediterranean dishes at Eire Café in Clapham.

Bowhill Engineering, a family-owned Murraylands business started in the 1970s by farmers Brendon and Averil Hawkes as a rural machinery maintenance and repair workshop, won the Regional Award.

Current managing director Jeremy Hawkes said: “To succeed, we have invested in facilities that are rare for a fabricator of our size, meaning we can lower overheads and provide great value for money.”

Will Irving, Telstra Business Group Managing Director and Ambassador for the Telstra Australian Business Awards, said, “All the winners are brilliant and inspirational businesses whose owners are recognised for their professionalism, innovation, leadership and creative use of technology.

“REDARC is an outstanding family-owned technology business that has dynamic leadership and a strong culture of core values and ethics. It designs and manufactures a patented range of high value-add electronics products and invests throughout its business in its products, people, processes and systems.

“Telstra Awards judges said REDARC, also the Medium Business Award winner, demonstrated a strong commitment to manufacturing in South Australia and continued to grow and innovate over many years,” Mr Irving said.

More than $800,000 in prizes will be shared by winners of the 2014 state, territory and national Telstra Business Awards - a program that has celebrated Australian small and medium businesses since 1992.

Winners of the 2014 Telstra South Australian Business Awards announced tonight are:

Telstra South Australian Business of the Year
REDARC, Lonsdale

Start-Up Award
Eire Café, Clapham
Zoi Kokoti and partner Stephen Lowery combined their experience as business manager and professional chef to renovate an old deli in Clapham and create Eire Café, providing flavourful and wholesome food and a friendly atmosphere. They also run cooking demonstrations, tapas Fridays and wholesale their goods. Telstra Awards judges said the duo’s development of their business was excellent, equaled by their focus on developing their people and their experience in managing retail brands.

Micro Business Award
Virtual Ad Agency, Payneham
A former CEO of three advertising agencies, John Curnow turned 40 and decided to go out on his own, starting Virtual Ad Agency in 2009. Believing he could service clients by doing away with large, in-house teams, he offers a core group of senior marketing and account specialists and freelance creatives. It’s a system that has seen more than 80 per cent of its business coming from outside of South Australia. Judges described Virtual Ad Agency as an outstanding and profitable micro business which had developed ‘under the radar’ with an ability to expand and contract its expertise while providing unique, end-to-end performance tracking for clients.

Small Business Award
Clare Valley Motel, Clare
Lee and Jan Stokes honed their hospitality expertise for more than 20 years in an international hotel chain and the retail industry before purchasing Clare Valley Motel four years ago. They’ve renovated each room, added outdoor restaurant Breezes and improved guest facilities and occupancy rates at the complex overlooking the Clare Valley. Telstra Judges praised the couple’s leadership, values and principles as exemplary, noted their staff retention success, and said they had a clear vision and documented plans for the next five to 10 years.

Medium Business Award
REDARC, Lonsdale

Regional Award
Bowhill Engineering, Bowhill
Bowhill Engineering is a family-owned rural machinery maintenance business that has evolved into a fabricator of heavy and complex structural steel. Headed by Jeremy and Jodie Hawkes, it specialises in large components for small projects, including road and pedestrian bridges, locks and weirs. Awards Judges said the business is a great role model with outstanding leadership, strong business acumen and business management and an unwavering community spirit. Every business decision is based on three principles of work life balance, security for themselves and their employees, and a thriving community.

Winners of the Telstra South Australian Business Awards progress to the Telstra Australian Business Awards which will be announced in Melbourne on 7 August. For more information about the Award winners, or to nominate for the 2015 Telstra Australian Business Awards, visit the Telstra Business Awards website.