Nation's top business bucks auto manufacturing sector trend

Media Release, 11 August 2014

Owners Anthony and Michelle Kittel took over a struggling small electronics business in 1997 immediately introducing a culture of innovation and skills training, transforming the business into an Australian owned and operated diversified manufacturer of electronic accessories and power sources.

Other winners of the national awards attended by Federal Treasurer Joe Hockey were Darwin’s Country Wellness Pharmacy, Melbourne hair and wellness salon URBAN ESCAPE, Lark Distillery – the founder of the new Australian whiskey distilling industry in Hobart, and northern NSW craft brewer Stone & Wood Brewing Company.

REDARC supplies its battery charging, portable solar, electronic safety and voltage converter products to local and international customers ranging from 4WD enthusiasts, caravan-towing grey nomads and the bus, rail, trucking, mining and emergency vehicle industries.

Anthony Kittel, REDARC’s chief executive, said the secrets of the company’s success were “continually investing a minimum of 15 per cent of our sales revenue back into research and having about 25 per cent of our employees working in R&D and innovation.”

“As an advanced manufacturer we need a highly skilled and empowered workforce. The commitment of the REDARC employees to learning and embracing training is impressive. Without a highly skilled workforce our product wouldn’t be at the technology level it is.”

Mr Kittel and his team were recognised by the Telstra Awards judges for having a huge pipeline of ideas that were turned into a stream of product development that drives REDARC’s growth.

Also the winner of the Medium Business Award at the 2014 Telstra Australian Business Awards ceremony in Melbourne, REDARC has a distribution arm in France, sells its battery management products into countries from Iceland to Spain and has medium term plans to design and manufacture in the US.

Will Irving, Group Managing Director of Telstra Business and Telstra Business Awards Ambassador, said the 2014 national winners were trail-blazers who excelled in their ability to be brilliantly different and change industries by either creating new businesses or thinking about old business models in new ways.

“REDARC is a high growth, high quality manufacturer that has focussed on innovation, deep customer understanding, targeted marketing and investment in new capability.” Mr Irving said.

“They demonstrate that with a very strategic focus on their value proposition, as well as partnerships with Universities and high levels of investment in research and development and production quality, domestic manufacturers can capture value and not just survive, but thrive.

“The Awards judges described REDARC as a financial success with impressive durability and robustness, high future potential and significant investment in staff training and product development.”

The winners of the 2014 Telstra Australian Business Awards are:

Start-Up Award
Country Wellness Pharmacy, Winnellie, NT
In 2012 Country Wellness Pharmacy established Save Mart Pharmacy in the Winnellie Shopping Centre with a desire to innovate in health care services. The Malaysian owners merged traditional medication dispensing with health services such as counselling and education seminars, online medical consultations and a web-based medication management system for an aged care facility. Judges said the business demonstrated a new pharmacy business model that was about health and wellness not simply retailing pharmaceuticals and cosmetics. The owners said they “never wanted to be just an average pharmacy” and they have shown excellent use of technology to develop a unique selling proposition.

Micro Business Award
URBAN ESCAPE Prahran, Victoria
URBAN ESCAPE is more than just a hair salon. It’s a high-end, holistically focused hair and wellness retreat that was named winner of the 2014 Australian Customer Service Achiever Award for Hairdressing. Craig Withers built his dream salon from renewable resources and recycled materials and uses products free of synthetic ingredients or petrochemicals. Judges praised the owner’s passion for his staff, his customers and the environment, adding that he believes the customer is “the star.” They said the business was scalable and would change the perception of what some people consider to be a cottage industry.

Small Business Award
Lark Distillery Hobart, Tasmania
Recognising Tasmania is blessed with an abundance of rich barley fields, highland peat bogs and the perfect climate to produce malt whisky, Bill and Lyn Lark launched a boutique distillery in 1992. Lark Distillery was the first licensed distillery to open in Tasmania since 1839. Lark Distillery was one of the first companies to export Australian malt whisky into the US and its product has won a host of prestigious awards. Judges said Lark Distillery was a quintessential small family business success story that has become an international winner. Its focus on quality and authentic product has put Australia on the world whisky map and Lark has been instrumental to the founding of the Australian whisky distilling industry.

Medium Business Award
REDARC Lonsdale, South Australia

Regional Award
Stone & Wood Brewing Company Byron Bay, New South Wales
Stone & Wood Brewing Company was launched in Byron Bay in 2008 to reflect the style of traditional village breweries in a contemporary business model. Every year since they’ve nearly doubled turnover and, in 2014, they added a second, larger brewery in Murwillumbah. Judges said the three founders had built a very powerful brand that has resulted in national distribution through Australia’s two biggest retailers. Their commitment to their local community sees the owners devote 50 per cent of their production locally to clubs and pubs in the north of NSW. The judges praised their exceptional revenue growth and sustainable vision.

Telstra Australian Business of the Year
REDARC Lonsdale, South Australia

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 business since 1992.

For more information about the Award winners or to nominate for the 2015 Telstra Australian Business Awards, visit