Changing fortunes for 40u40 winners

20/10/2015 - 05:53


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From mining to agriculture, technology and finance, 40under40 award winners have been making news this year.

Changing fortunes for 40u40 winners
TEAMING UP: Azzurro Gelati founders Nick (left) and Rey Odorisio, and Bannister Downs Dairy’s Sue and Mat Daubney. Photo: Attila Csaszar

From mining to agriculture, technology and finance, 40under40 award winners have been making news this year.

If Nick and Rey Odorisio were a bit younger, or Business News a bit older, they could easily have won a 40under40 award for up-and-coming business people.

Instead, they are on the brink of retirement, after finding another couple to take over their Azzura Gelati business.

Those they tapped on the shoulder were Sue and Mat Daubney, who have achieved outstanding success with their Bannister Downs Dairy Company.

Ms Daubney, who was First Amongst Equals in the 2010 40under40 awards, is aiming to rebuild Azzura Gelati to its former glory after striking a deal last week to buy the local ice-cream manufacturer.

It’s the second major project for Ms Daubney this year; she is also in the final stages of getting planning approval for a $20 million-plus expansion of the Bannister Downs dairy at Northcliffe.

The expansion has been co-funded by Hancock Prospecting boss Gina Rinehart, who became acquainted with the dairy owner in 2010.

“She sent an email congratulating me on winning the First Amongst Equals award, which was pretty amazing,” Ms Daubney recalled.

The Azzura deal also stemmed from a relationship established several years ago, when Bannister Downs started competing in agricultural shows.

The change of ownership follows a difficult period for Azzura, which was established nearly 30 years ago.

Second-generation family members had been running the business in recent years, before it went into administration at the end of 2014.

Ms Daubney is aiming to resume production next month, and get some of Azzura’s most popular summer products back into the market early in the new year.

“We will be starting from ground zero,” Ms Daubney said.

“Nick and Rey will stay on and help us; it’s their passion and they really want to see it work for us.

“What’s exciting for me is the similarities are so close,’’ she said.

“Both couples starting out on our own, building premises of their dreams and being totally focused on quality all the way through, and having two WA brands wholly and solely made in WA.”

At its peak, Azzura reportedly had annual turnover of about $2 million, with exports to Singapore and local sales through cafes, restaurants and independent supermarkets.

Spreading success

Ms Daubney is not the only First Amongst Equals winner in the news.

Two other winners highlighted the way fortunes can change, figuratively and literally, in Western Australia’s commodity-driven economy.

The 2009 winner, David Flanagan, returned to the helm at struggling Atlas Iron to lead a company-saving $86 million capital raising for the iron ore miner, while 2013 winner Bill Beament continued to ride the buoyant gold market, with Northern Star Resources now ranked as WA’s seventh most valuable listed company.

Mr Beament’s personal shareholding in Northern Star has grown in value to $45 million, or about two-thirds the total market value of Atlas.

In the technology space, half a dozen 40under40 winners have joined the wave of ASX backdoor listings.

Early movers on this trend included Steven Goh’s Asia-focused social media business migme, Tony Gooch’s internet security firm iWebGate, and Zhenya Tsvetnenko’s Digital CC.

Tech entrepreneurs Nathan Buzza, Matthew Sullivan and Justin Miller are also involved with backdoor listings.

Two of the most successful 40under40 winners received their awards early in the program.

Andrew Thorburn was a winner in 2002, the first year Business News hosted the awards.

At the time, he was state manager of Commonwealth Bank, and has gone on to become managing director of National Australia Bank.

The 2003 winners included John Gillam, who at the time was managing director of Wesfarmers’ CSBP business.

One year later he was promoted to managing director home improvement, where he has overseen the outstanding success of the Bunnings chain and, more recently, the Officeworks business.


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