NT - Telstra Australian Business Awards

HTC Start Up Award

The Chiropractic Place

‘We want to offer people simple solutions to their health problems by teaching them how to eat, move and sleep better, opening their eyes to how easy living a healthy life is and that you can feel great all the time.’ Dr Jacob Brady, Director

After a stint in Ireland where they helped turn around a lagging chiropractic business, Jacob Brady and his wife Leandra Walker decided to move to Darwin and start anew. They discovered a city with great potential for entrepreneurs. Both took up alternative employment to scrape together enough money to lease their own office space and in February 2011 The Chiropractic Place opened. The business integrates traditional chiropractic elements with neurology, health and lifestyle advice to treat injuries and nurture disease prevention. They established an office in the CBD after discovering a scarcity of services in the city centre. Through aggressive networking with the corporate sector, the business has quickly expanded its client base, moving from a serviced office with one treatment bed to a multi-office clinic. They have also built a chiropractic website to provide advice on health and well-being and moved to a completely computer based patient-file management system to improve efficiency.

Encore Pilates

‘Pain affects us physically, emotionally and psychologically. Pilates can be the catalyst and the foundation for that to change.’ Kate Crane, Director

Kate Crane’s motto is to ‘empower people through movement’. She is on a mission to educate the people of Darwin about the benefits of Pilates and how to live a pain-free lifestyle. Encore Pilates caters for the young and old, elite athletes and new mums rediscovering their core strength. Kate also works alongside allied health professionals and insurance agencies to help injured workers re-enter the workplace. Kate moved to Darwin in 2008 and started teaching Pilates classes at recreational facilities. She quickly learned there was an untapped market for quality Pilates instruction. Encore Pilates opened its own studio in 2010 and had to move to new and larger premises earlier this year to keep up with demand. The studio now hosts teacher training certification courses. Kate’s future plans include continuing to grow the profile of Pilates in the Territory and making it available to people from all walks of life.

UNO MS

‘We look after our team and they are motivated to work extra hours without being asked because they value the company as much as its directors.’ Kirsty McInnes, Managing Director

Upheaval caused by the Global Financial Crisis produced opportunity for Kirsty McInnes and Ewan Hall to form their own business. The pair was caught up in a restructure in which their employer cut staff by half. Recharging their batteries in East Timor, they decided to start their own family enterprise from their basement in Fannie Bay. Their company, UNO MS, offers services in project management, engineering, design and environmental consulting as well as community consultation and engagement. Major clients include Rio Tinto and BHP and their project portfolio features the Umbakumba road upgrade, two new buildings for Royal Darwin Hospital and stage three of the Hinze Dam. Diversifying its client base in both the public and private sectors has helped the company maintain sustained growth. Faced by cash flow issues in 2010 due to clients delaying payment, Ewan and Kirsty made sacrifices and ensured their employees continued to be paid, avoiding lay-offs and engendering great loyalty.

News Limited Micro Business Award

Agentur Pty Ltd

‘We were very clear about positioning ourselves as a professional but quirky boutique event management agency that provides personalised services.’ Britta Decker, Director

Drawing on extensive marketing and event management experience in Europe, Marijana Joeder and Britta Decker left full-time jobs with the Territory’s peak music industry organisation to start Agentur. The Cullen Bay-based boutique professional conferencing and event management business prides itself on being flexible and attracting an eclectic range of clients. Highlights include securing the contract for an Elton John concert in 2008 to co-ordinating a national indigenous education conference with 600 delegates. More recently, the business negotiated a three-year contract for the National Indigenous Music Awards. The couple started the business out of a need for flexibility with their own careers while raising a family. Despite possessing no capital, they took the risk of leasing professional office space with only two clients on their books. Their determination to succeed is shown by them drawing on personal funds to overcome cash flow issues, in particular during the off-peak wet season.

Alice Pool and Spa Centre

‘At first my wife thought the idea to purchase the business was an April Fool’s Day joke. Today, the business continues to grow and its success is driven by the hard work and dedication of our staff.’ Darren Burton, Owner

When builder Darren Burton purchased a pool shop in Alice Springs on April 1, his wife thought it was an April Fool’s Day prank as he had no experience in the industry. Fearing work in the building industry was drying up, he was confident he had made the right decision as the company’s sales figures looked promising. Darren overhauled the business by changing its name and moved from rented premises to larger floor space he had purchased next door. Darren’s knowledge of the industry has grown along with his sales figures. The Centre is now one of the largest stockists and suppliers of pool and spa equipment in the Territory – in fact stock levels have increased by 500 per cent and staff numbers have quadrupled. Darren puts success down to exceeding customer demands, keeping high stock levels of the latest products and learning to manage cash flow in a seasonal market.

The Bodhi Bus

‘It is not always the easiest of jobs and there is a lot of thinking outside of the square but all in all it is a team effort involving staff which drives the company forward.’ David Bursle, Owner

Starting a bus service with a broken foot on a credit card was far from the perfect business debut for David Bursle. But after coercing his best mate to be a driver, The Bodhi Bus has grown to provide a regular transport and charter service for remote communities. David decided to start the service after attending an inquest into the death of an elder with a medical condition who was dropped at an airstrip but not picked up to be taken to his community. Having previously worked with a bus company, he saw the need for a door-to-door service to help people access essential services, such as medical and schooling. His business culture is based around planning for the worst and hoping for the best as the remote environment is unforgiving and changes rapidly. As such, vehicle maintenance and the quality of his fleet is one of the Katherine-based company’s highest priorities.

MYOB Small Business Award

Coomalie Air Maintenance Pty Ltd

‘I felt I had the skill and passion to make a success of it and I was just crazy enough to jump in at the deep end.’ Geoff Morton, Director

Sleeping in a swag on a hangar floor surrounded by a swarm of mosquitoes is not everyone’s idea of the perfect workplace. For Geoff Morton it was one of the sacrifices he had to make to pursue his passion - aircraft maintenance. In 2008 at age 28, he decided to invest his life savings in leasing a hangar at an airstrip in Batchelor, 100 kilometres south of Darwin. As director and chief engineer, Geoff started by servicing small fixed wing aircraft before growing to a team of six and expanding into helicopters. In its first year the business completed more than 200 jobs. The company now completes more than 350 jobs each year and maintains a customer fleet of more than 80 aircraft. Clients include the CSG Services and Consolidated Pastoral Company. The company’s commitment to customer service is demonstrated by providing a loan aircraft or flying hundreds of kilometres to help a client.

Golden Glow Nursing

‘I learned to become confident in my decision-making and being responsible for the impacts they would have on the business.’ Joanne Kovac, Director.

Confusion and distress among patients being transported from hospital to home through the use of more than one service provider prompted registered nurse Joanne Kovac to set up her own community care organisation with Maureen Schaffer. Golden Glow Nursing in Darwin, is a one-stop shop for around-the-clock aged, nursing and palliative care in the comfort of people’s homes. For the first two years, the co-founders worked part-time jobs to maintain an income while building their own business from a home office. Starting with only two contracts, Golden Glow now makes more than 30,000 home visits every year, employs 30 staff, has a fleet of 16 cars and has opened a regional office in Katherine. Joanne says one of the biggest challenges was being accepted within the health industry as a viable and credible organisation. Through it all she has learned to back her business judgement, flexibility in management and the importance of staff satisfaction.

Saffrron Restaurant

‘I am passionate about creating healthy, flavoursome and fresh meals that reflect both my childhood in India and my training, as well as the ingredients of the Top End.’ Selvam Kandasamy, Director

Combining a passion for cooking and food with a love for the environment has propelled Saffrron Restaurant to grow a loyal clientele. Selvam, who has been a chef for 20 years, opened the Indian restaurant, in Parap, with wife Jo after training as a chef in India and working in world-class restaurants. His dream was to create an eatery with a minimal environmental footprint while offering healthy, flavoursome and fresh local ingredients. Local produce used includes wild barramundi, limes, okra, snake beans and chillies. Environmental strategies include using recycled cooking oil as well as tableware and takeaway packaging made from bamboo and sugarcane by-products in a zero-emission manufacturing process. Saffrron was recognised by the NT Government for being one of the first local businesses to phase out plastic bags. The restaurant has won Eco Tourism Australia’s Climate Action Gecko Award and the title of the Seafood Council’s Best Seafood Restaurant in the NT.

Commonwealth Bank Medium Business Award

Advance Civil Engineering

‘We recognised there were very few small engineering companies able to competently carry out difficult civil works in isolated areas of the NT.’ Keith Aitken, Managing Director

While the OHS concerns of most civil engineering companies usually involve ensuring workers are wearing hard hats and related safety equipment, Advance Civil Engineering staff have to know how to negotiate crocodile-infested waterways. The company was formed in 1980 by Managing Director Keith Aitken and specialises in working in remote tropical environments under harsh conditions. For Keith, working in the NT was an easy transition after gaining extensive experience on difficult engineering projects in Papua New Guinea. The business was established in response to NT Government demand to upgrade services to isolated communities. The Holtze-based operation has grown to 30 employees with turnover increasing almost 60-fold. Significant projects undertaken include the reconstruction of the collapsed Adelaide River Bridge and the raising of the Darwin River Dam Spillway. Advance Civil Engineering’s work has been recognised through two National Master Builders Awards and a National Civil Contractors Federation Earth Award.

Karen Sheldon Catering Pty Ltd

‘Karen Sheldon has passed on her passion for excellence in service, cooking with local produce and working tirelessly to close the gap for local Indigenous people.’ Amanda Swift, Director

A desire to give back to the Northern Territory and help close the gap on Indigenous disadvantage were the motivating forces behind the establishment of Karen Sheldon Catering. Succession planning and the restructure of a 30-year-old business gave owner Karen Sheldon the opportunity to turn three loyal employees into directors. Together, the directors share more than 100 years of cooking, hospitality, management and training expertise. The company has two divisions focussing on catering and training. The catering division operates three cafes as well as event management services. Its training division is a Registered Training Organisation (RTO), offering specially-designed entry to work programs and pathways for highly disadvantaged Indigenous job seekers, supported by long-term mentoring. Company highlights include an appointment to the Indigenous Employment Panel of the NT, establishing the first Incubator Aboriginal Training Café in Alice Springs and a catering contract with V8 Supercars in Darwin for the past 10 years.

Security & Technology Services

‘We are particularly proud of our staff and their personal development as this has been paramount to our business accomplishments.’ Greg Ireland, Managing Director

Security & Technology Services was born in 2004 as a result of increasing demand for specialist advice and technical capacity. The company focuses on the supply, installation and maintenance of security and fire detection equipment, including CCTV, intercoms, intruder alarms and access control systems. Growing from a single staff member, the company now employs more than 60 staff in Darwin and has offices in Alice Springs, Broome, Katherine and Adelaide. The company’s success has, in part, been due to a strong focus on training and has employed 12 apprentices since its inception. The business has successfully delivered high profile projects such as the high tech wireless camera installations for the NT Police and state of the art command and control systems for the Department of Immigration & Citizenship. It is currently constructing its own purpose built premises with an aim to further strengthen local resources and capability.

Telstra Regional Award

Alice Pool and Spa Centre

‘At first my wife thought the idea to purchase the business was an April Fool’s joke. Today, the business continues to grow and its success is driven by the hard work and dedication of our staff.’ Darren Burton, Owner

When builder Darren Burton purchased a pool shop in Alice Springs on April 1, his wife thought it was an April Fool’s Day prank as he had no experience in the industry. Fearing work in the building industry was drying up, he was confident he had made the right decision as the company’s sales figures looked promising. Darren overhauled the business by changing its name and moved from rented premises to larger floor space he had purchased next door. Darren’s knowledge of the industry has grown along with his sales figures. The Centre is now one of the largest stockists and suppliers of pool and spa equipment in the Territory – in fact stock levels have increased by 500 per cent and staff numbers have quadrupled. Darren puts success down to exceeding customer demands, keeping high stock levels of the latest products and learning to manage cash flow in a seasonal market.

The Bodhi Bus

‘It is not always the easiest of jobs and there is a lot of thinking outside of the square but all in all it is a team effort involving staff which drives the company forward.’ David Bursle, Owner

Starting a bus service with a broken foot on a credit card was far from the perfect business debut for David Bursle. But after coercing his best mate to be a driver, The Bodhi Bus has grown to provide a regular transport and charter service for remote communities. David decided to start the service after attending an inquest into the death of an elder with a medical condition who was dropped at an airstrip but not picked up to be taken to his community. Having previously worked with a bus company, he saw the need for a door-to-door service to help people access essential services, such as medical and schooling. His business culture is based around planning for the worst and hoping for the best as the remote environment is unforgiving and changes rapidly. As such, vehicle maintenance and the quality of his fleet is one of the Katherine-based company’s highest priorities.

Coomalie Air Maintenance Pty Ltd

‘I felt I had the skill and passion to make a success of it and I was just crazy enough to jump in at the deep end.’ Geoff Morton, Director

Sleeping in a swag on a hangar floor surrounded by a swarm of mosquitoes is not everyone’s idea of the perfect workplace. For Geoff Morton it was one of the sacrifices he had to make to pursue his passion - aircraft maintenance. In 2008 at age 28, he decided to invest his life savings in leasing a hangar at an airstrip in Batchelor, 100 kilometres south of Darwin. As director and chief engineer, Geoff started by servicing small fixed wing aircraft before growing to a team of six and expanding into helicopters. In its first year the business completed more than 200 jobs. The company now completes more than 350 jobs each year and maintains a customer fleet of more than 80 aircraft. Clients include the CSG Services and Consolidated Pastoral Company. The company’s commitment to customer service is demonstrated by providing a loan aircraft or flying hundreds of kilometres to help a client.