James Riley
August 21, 2015

Tech smarts shine at Telstra Awards

Tech smarts shine at Telstra Awards

Small Business Minister Bruce Billson (left) with Telstra CEO Andy Penn at the Telstra Business Awards in Sydney last night

A Western Australian security firm took the top honours at the prestigious Telstra Business Awards in Sydney last night, at an event crowded with tech innovation and entrepreneurial smarts.

Executive Risk Solutions, run by an ex-Special Forces soldier, provides crisis management, emergency response and specialist security at hotspots around the world. The company started with a simple security contract at the Roy Hill mining tenement in 2008.

The company won the Telstra Business of the Year Award, having grown to more than $20 million in revenue and 100 employees.

Tech and tech-enabled companies featured strongly on the night. Two Victorian businesses, both run by siblings, won the Startup Business and Small Business Award.

Furst Electrical was founded just three years ago by Lee and Mark Furst as a specialist industrial electrical contractor, and took the Startup Award. The company designs, fabricates and installs electrical control systems for automated production lines, exclusively for manufacturers and secondary processing industries.

Furst Electrical now employs 11 staff, including Lee and Mark’s father Paul Furst, who at 56 years of age became the company’s first apprentice.

Small Business Award winner Cargo Crew, is a company that has leaned heavily on online marketing and ecommerce platforms to build a fashionable and contemporary uniform brand for hospitality, event, retail and corporate staff. It was founded by designer Felicity Rodgers with the view of disrupting the market by delivering fashion- designs that staff actually wanted to wear.

Cargo Crew has developed more than 35 products and ships more than 10,000 orders a year locally, with clients including L'Oreal, Tabcorp, Dulux and Renault.

Telstra Chief Executive Andy Penn reaffirmed the company’s ongoing commitment to the business awards after 23 years showcasing local companies.

“These businesses are much more than just an important part of the economy – they are central to the fabric of our community and the backbone of our national economy,” Mr Penn said.

“Their stories are rich with big ideas, resilience, imaginations and aspirations for the future. Their achievements inspire others to strive for success within Australia and in markets overseas.”

Other award winners on the night included iced tea beverage manufacturer Nexba, whose mission is to create better-for-you drinks. The company was named the national winner of the Micro Business Award, while Murrumbidgee-based cotton processor Southern Cotton won the national Regional Award.

A special mention must go to South Australia award winner Hegs Australia, a company whose founder Scott Boocock reimagined the common clothes peg. Mr Boocock’s design is covered by six patents and he has brought advanced manufacturing facilities to Adelaide. The company has been able to produce the Hegs Pegs for export markets at a lower costs than Chinese competitors.

The other extraordinary story of the night is a small business from the ACT called Red Robot which produces fully a commercial, portable and single operator photo booth.

Using extraordinary innovation this company has reimagined a stale icon using the latest technologies and is now building these photo booths for export to the US and elsewhere. 

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