24/07/2015 - 06:18

Entrepreneurial winners look abroad

24/07/2015 - 06:18


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The WA winners in the 2015 EY Entrepreneur of the Year awards are looking well beyond their home state for growth opportunities.

BRIGHT FUTURE: GMA Garnet’s Torsten Ketelsen.

The WA winners in the 2015 EY Entrepreneur of the Year awards are looking well beyond their home state for growth opportunities.

When Torsten Ketelsen migrated to Perth in 1986, he had no idea that he would be able to combine his international marketing and trading experience with a fledgling mining project in the Mid West to create a successful global business.

Over the past 30 years, Mr Ketelsen has built GMA Garnet into an integrated mining, processing, shipping, marketing, and distribution organisation with a 40 per cent share of the market.

It has more than 7,000 end-users in its core market of high-performance blasting and waterjet cutting abrasives.

Mr Ketelsen’s success has seen him named as the industry category winner in the EY Entrepreneur of the Year awards for WA.

The judges, led by former Amcom Telecommunications chairman Tony Grist, said Mr Ketelsen had: “Delivered a fantastically profitable business that is totally integrated from mine to customer.

“He has taken what has traditionally been considered an industrial commodity and created a series of different products with clever branding,” Mr Grist said.

“Torsten puts a lot back in to the community as well, so he’s an absolute pin-up person for entrepreneurs.”

The award follows a management succession at GMA Garnet, with Mr Ketelsen stepping into a non-executive role this year after appointing new chairman Keith Gordon and new chief executive Stephen Gobby.

“You have to be very mature about this,” Mr Ketelsen told Business News last month.

“The business has changed and you have to let go.”

He said the new team was younger and brought a long-term presence in the local market.

Their goal is to double the enterprise value of the business over the next five years.

A second winner, in the emerging category, was Subcon Technologies co-founder and managing director Matthew Allen.

Subcon’s speciality is the innovative use of precast concrete to protect and stabilise sub-sea structures such as pipelines and cables, and to build artificial reefs.

The judges said Mr Allen: “Is a consummate entrepreneur who has a deep knowledge of his industry and is going to go a long way.

“With Subcon Technologies, he was able to utilise innovative technology and combine that with deep customer knowledge to create a profitable business.”

In the services category, Russell Baskerville has taken IT company Empired from 20 people a decade ago to about 900 across Australia and New Zealand.

ASX-listed Empired anticipates revenue of up to $130 million in 2014-15, and up to $175 million in the current financial year.

One contributor to its growth has been the successful integration of four acquisitions since 2012.

“We are one fully, tightly integrated organisation,” Mr Baskerville told Business News.

“That’s been critical in terms of the breadth of services we can take to customers and the seamless integration of those services.”

The company has established an office in Singapore, with plans for Hong Kong and Malaysia to follow.

Resonance Health chief scientific officer Tim St Pierre won the emerging category.

Professor St Pierre led the team that developed the FerriScan technology at The University of Western Australia in the early 2000s.

Since then, he has been working with the ASX-listed company to take FerriScan and other medical imaging devices to the global market.


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