Media Release, 03 July 2015

Country Solar NT, a family-owned Darwin business that became the Territory’s largest installer of solar PV systems within five years, is the 2015 Telstra Northern Territory Business of the Year.

Jeremy Hunt, an electrician looking for a change in direction after working for large mining, construction and oil and gas companies, and his wife Pam, founded Country Solar NT late in 2010 to meet the desire of Territorians to live more sustainably and reduce business overheads.

Starting out on weekends with a ute and a garage full of solar panels, the couple operate a business that now designs, supplies and installs solar power solutions to residential, commercial and government clients across the Territory from a warehouse and showroom in Coconut Grove.

Clients range from Darwin supermarkets, warehouses, schools and apartment blocks to the Batchelor Butterfly Farm, Melville Island’s Jilamara Arts and Crafts Association and the Laiamanu Health Campus.

Managing director Jeremy Hunt says: “Our time in the solar industry has been turbulent like most, but we are one of the few who, through consistent evolution and improvement, have adapted to the ever-changing competitiveness, utility rules, regulations and government policy.”

Building a team of qualified solar designers, electrical engineers and system installers, Country Solar NT has installed more than 2500kW of solar PVs including a 250kW system at Charles Darwin University this year.

Mr Hunt attributed Country Solar NT’s success to consistent and transparent service and its commitment to the local community.

“We’re local and we want to ensure that locals are getting the best renewable energy products available at the best prices to meet their energy needs.

“Amid the ever-changing rules about solar PV and the past performance of fly-in fly-out solar contractors, we have provided a stable alternative for the home, business and government markets,” he said.

Other winners of the 2015 Telstra NT Business Awards named tonight at the Darwin Convention Centre include commercial plumbing services start-up Plumbing NT Pty Ltd, allied health therapeutic business Stepping Stones In Life Therapy Service, and steel fabrication company Northtech Solutions.

Will Irving, Telstra Business Group Managing Director and Telstra Business Awards Ambassador, said: “The Territory winners are brilliant and inspiring businesses that are being celebrated for innovation, industry leadership, creative use of technology and their contribution to the local economy.

“Country Solar NT is at the forefront of its industry, displaying strong ethics, a continuing thirst for improvement and a desire to make sustainable change in the local community.

“The Telstra Awards judges said it has enjoyed phenomenal growth in a short space of time. It has an impressive marketing strategy, strong business processes and a good vision for growing the business.”

Winners of the 2015 Telstra Northern Territory Business Awards are:

Start-Up Award
Plumbing NT Pty Ltd, Yarrawonga
Plumbing NT Pty Ltd provides commercial and domestic plumbing maintenance, plumbing for new house construction, civil works and industrial plumbing. Managing Director Patrick Whitehead embraced technology to give his business a competitive edge, providing a work tablet to all his plumbers. From a blocked drain to a sewer main upgrade, every note, photo, email and text is recorded and stored so a complete job history is available. The plumbers use an app that provides a job ticket with client and job details and GPS navigation to the site. Judges said the business, located in Darwin, Palmerston and rural areas, has great leadership capability, a clear vision and a well-documented business plan. It has zero staff turnover and internal communication that breeds staff loyalty.

Micro Business Award

Stepping Stones In Life Therapy Service, Millner
In her previous work for a disability service, psychologist Barbara Kapser witnessed first-hand the difficulty Territory families had accessing paediatric and adult therapy services. Coupled with the limited support available for families and carers, Barbara decided to launch Stepping Stones In Life Therapy Service in 2011. As a private multi-disciplinary practice located in Millner, it provides allied health therapeutic services for children, adolescents and adults across the Northern Territory. The Awards Judges described the business as inspiring, with great passion behind the scenes, strong community engagement and glowing customer references. They said it has clear purpose, financials aligned with vision and a growth plan for the region.

Small Business Award
Northtech Solutions, Darwin
In 2010 Steve Pope and Donna McRae moved from Jabiru to Darwin and poured their savings into a dream of independence through owning their own business – Northtech Solutions. Its first steel fabrication job was completed in the carport of the family home. Today it provides specialised steel fabrication, installation and maintenance services to the industrial, marine and government sectors from its own commercial premises. Its reputation for quality and delivering innovative, affordable products and solutions has grown as its workforce has increased to 20 full-time equivalent staff. The Judges said Northtech Solutions had sound financials and was on the right path in terms of business management. It has a complementary team with strong processes and opportunity for growth, and innovative products under development.

Medium Business Award
Country Solar NT, Darwin

Telstra Northern Territory Business of the Year
Country Solar NT, Darwin
Winners of the Telstra Northern Territory Business Awards will now proceed to the 2015 Telstra Australian Business Awards which will be announced in Sydney on 20 August.

For more information about the Awards or to nominate for the 2016 Telstra Australian Business Awards, visit telstrabusinessawards.com or call 1800 AWARDS between 9am and 7pm AEST Monday to Friday.

The Telstra Business Awards were established in 1992 to celebrated brilliant Australian small and medium businesses.