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South West business winners lauded

SMILES were all around at the recent sundowner held in Bunbury’s Edith Cowan University to celebrate the success of South West businesses in the recent WA Telstra Small Business Development Corporation Awards.

The winners of the South West awards were brought together to share stories of their achievement with other business people.

Manjimup Syndicate Coolstores was the winner of the South West Business of the Year award.

Manjimup Syndicate Coolstores managing director Don Geare said to be successful required hard work to stay in front of the pack in an ever-changing world.

He said the company had been innovative in adopting the use of sea containers to transport some of their products to avoid the high cost of air freight out of Perth.

Mr Geare said it was important that business owners had a clear vision of just where they wanted to take their business.

“Take time to see your business in the future. Take time to see your goals for the future and don’t be distracted from your goals,” he said.

Tourism operator Donnelly Lakes’ John Suckling, winner in the Best Business with fewer than five employees category, said that he and his wife, Renata, had to learn from the bottom up how to operate a business after both left long-time teaching careers.

He said the change in direction to tourism had been great because “unlike our former clients, which were our students, we found that our new clients actually wanted to be with us.”

Mr Suckling said the demands and challenges of running a business were very different to those of a teacher so they had to adopt a different approach.

He said they had done this by launching a web site as well as making improvements to their forty hectare property to fill niche markets.

He said one of the biggest problems was finding good employees because of the isolation of their tourist park.

On the reason for Donnelly Lakes success Mr Suckling said: “We believe that our success in many ways is a result of us being able to run our business in a professional manner as well as providing a good service.”

Young Entrepreneur of the Year, Suzanne Strapp from SW Audiology, attributed her and her business’ success to humour and laughter.

She said the most important thing in business, apart from the clients, is the owner.

“If you are not happy and looking after yourself, you can not be expected to look after others well either,” she said.

She said a smile was like a boomerang because it always came back.

South West and WA Entrepreneur of the Year and national contender, Craven Food principal Kevin Coote, said people were going into business today with more education, whereas the entrepreneurs of the past had needed to educate themselves.

“What they will lack, of course, is experience but as long as they have got the commitment as well as the education they will go the extra mile,” he said.

Paterson’s Landscaping’s Malcolm Mallaby, winner of the South West and WA Best Business with fewer than twenty employees award and national contender, said it was important to learn from mistakes made and move on from these.

He said the Telstra awards had helped him because it gave him the opportunity to stand back, look at the way the business was operating and to improve on certain practices and procedures such as occupational health and safety.

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