2008 Spirit of Entrepreneurship Award Finalists

1. Embroidability

2. Bright Brewery

3. Beechworth Honey Experience

4. Tactile Australia

5. R&V Aqualine

6. Fresh Bins

7. Aircraft Plastics

8. Tranquil Hills Fruit Growers

9. Sulfide Control

10. Crawford Collection

11. Longwarry Food Park

12. Kool Ideas

13. AIR CTI

14. GPS Ag

15. Gundowring Fine Foods

1. Embroidability

Embroidability is a not-for-profit leader in social entrepreneurship in the Stawell and Ararat district. The business provides a unique partnership between the disability employment and commercial sectors by servicing a wide range of local apparel businesses and the community with computerised logo branding and embroidery.
The business commenced in June 2006, and had grown through partnership alliance to employ more than 30 effective fulltime employees. They take pride in their face-to-face connection with their customers, ensuring that quality is delivered across the entire spectrum of their embroidered caps, shirts, leisurewear, sportswear, school wear, jackets, horses rugs... and even CD cases.

Embroidability – pride, quality, ability initiative, and teamwork.

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2. Bright Brewery

The Bright Brewery, located on the Great Alpine Road, is the brain child of four former University friends who share a passion for the outdoors and hospitality. From humble beginnings in 2003, their sales from beer brewing and related tourism have quadrupled, and they are now deeply entrenched in the Bright business community, employing directly around five people.

Their business concept is based upon a mix of strong personal relationships, good ideas, patience and flexibility to quickly seize opportunities. As well as serving beer, wine and meals with live entertainment, the Bright Brewery also runs a 'Brewer For A Day' package for members of the public to help brew a genuine commercial batch of beer. This is now rated amongst the Northeast Victoria 'Top Five' tourism experiences, and generated substantial national media coverage.

The Bright Brewery – a craft beer maker, making special beer!

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3. Beechworth Honey Experience

The Beechworth Honey Experience is an interactive tourism venue in Beechworth that performs promotional and direct retail functions for the company’s honey products. Employing between 25 and 30 people locally since opening early in 2008, the business will operate 364 days per year, providing tastings, a honey tour, and live bee displays, giving visitors a unique insight into bee keeping and honey production.

The business showcases a unique range of premium products including: red stringy bark, peppermint, apple blossom, ginger and fig honey, plus other beauty products and sparkling honey nectar drinks.

The Beechworth Honey Experience - an innovative addition to the agri-tourism experiences of Northeast Victoria.

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4. Tactile Australia

Tactile Australia is a Civil construction company meeting the specialist needs of the disabled community to access buildings and public facilities. Addressing this niche market began in 2002, with a two man team having educate their clients about the legal obligations under the Disability Discrimination Act to meet the Australian Standards for access. Travelling around the country from their base in Tatura, the Tactile Australia team has produced an innovative precast tactile installation method that allows rapid installations at night. Instead of casting the tiles on-site and causing temporary closures to services such as bus stops and railway stations, they can now complete installations in less time - with less labour and risk issues.

The company now employs 16 people and grown its business threefold by creating a demand for a product and service previously not met within the construction sector.
Tactile Australia – a Tatura business that transacts locally and delivers nationally.

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5. R&V Aqualine

Aqualine is a specialist rota moulding fibreglass manufacturer located in Carboor in Northeast Victoria. The business employees 21 people, producing canoes and kayaks, safari motorcycle fuel tanks, distributing Tourtech adventure motorbike accessories, and developing other innovative products. The business began in 1987, and has grown its production capacity by 800%, in relatively remote premises over 50 km from a major township (where no mobile phone coverage exists).

Robin and Veronica Box have designed, manufactured, and exported over twenty-eight models of canoes and kayaks which are subject to international patents. Their motor bike tanks have increased fuel capacity in remote areas across developing countries in Asia, applying a number of clever innovative designs. All this while running a working family farm, and building their market in Europe, North America and Asia.

Aqualine – a truly international manufacturer operating from provincial Victoria.

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6. Fresh Bins

Warrnambool based Fresh Bins evolved from a family Christmas holiday from their home town of Bathurst. There was no mobile bin-cleaning service in Warrnambool like Peter Sewell has seen operating in Bathurst, so he established a new 'hygiene business for rubbish bins' in 2007. This two person business services caravan parks, motels, restaurants, schools, hospitals, and local councils, using a specialist spray unit that cleans 450 bins per day using only 400 litres of water.

The quarter of a million dollar mobile bin cleaning unit, designed by Lyco Innovations Engineering in Ballarat, requires no lifting of the heavy bins, and treats all the contaminated water before discharge. Fresh Bins seeks to expand to four mobile units and service markets in Geelong and Melbourne in the future.

Fresh Bins – cleaning rubbish bins safely and protecting the environment.

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7. Aircraft Plastics

Aircraft Plastics has made the transition from the automotive sector to aviation, to refresh and refurbish interior non-structural plastic components for airlines such as Singapore, Cathay Pacific, Virgin Blue, and Regional Express. In 2005 David Fernyhough seized an opportunity at the Avalon Air Show to work with Singapore Airlines, and ultimately achieve industry Certifications to refurbish First and Business Class seats, when the aircraft are on layover at Melbourne Airport. This niche market service saves the major airlines millions of dollars by repairing and resurfacing plastic components such as seat panels, food trays, and others that were normally discarded when worn.

The Geelong based business employees 12, who continuously develop new methods of resurfacing to meets the airline’s requirements - from wood grain, and brushed metallic finishes through to plush ultra leather seat coverings.

With over 90% of its earnings sourced internationally, Aircraft Plastics is a truly innovative global maintenance business.

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8. Tranquil Hills Fruit Growers

Bev Fisher has taken a citrus fruit growing property and juice business, to an operation employing six people and producing marmalade and citrus salt. Tranquil Hills Fruit Growers also hosts a 'Pig Lover’s Pignic' and is part of a Farm Trail around the Cobram District.

Surviving the worst drought in living memory has meant that innovative additions to the farm business have had to be developed to add value and create boutique sales. Media promotion of her marmalade, and the popularity of 'Precious' the family pet pig, has grown the farm visitations from one per month to four per day – many of those being international tourists.

Tranquil Hills is a classic example of entrepreneurship and local business networking in northern Victoria.

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9. Sulfide Control

Phill Dack is a Chemical Engineer interested in ridding water of odour, corrosion, and hydrogen sulphide. Pretty important stuff when you ponder the smell of 'rotten egg gas', but even more useful in applications such as the Warrnambool Cheese & Butter factory. Sulfide Control commenced business in 2005, and the two person operation produces 'Sulfox' to successfully control hydrogen sulphide in sewerage and other types of transfer pipelines in towns and cities around Australia.

The treatment is particularly useful during warm weather periods for water authorities, biogas producers, waste treatment and recovery companies, and the petrochemical industry.

Sulfide Control is a success story from the GREEN Inc Business Centre at Monash University in Churchill (Latrobe Valley).

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10. Crawford Collection

The Crawford Collection is a containerised kitchen catering unit invention that grew out of necessity. Andrew Crawford had grown an off-site catering business over 20 years, servicing the V8 and ‘Formula 1’ Motor Racing teams in Australia, New Zealand and Bahrain. The business now has over 200 clients and serves more than 60,000 meals per year.

Andrew designed and produced the first containerised kitchen in 2004, and this year the 10th unit left the factory floor for service, along with five containerised cool rooms. Crawford Kitchens has sold three kitchens to DSE during the bushfires of 2006-7, and is expanding its markets into the defence forces, mining operations, film crew catering, commercial establishments (such as hospitals and hospitality), and emergency relief organisations.

Based in Mansfield and employing 15 people, the Crawford Collective proves the adage 'Necessity is the mother of invention'.

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11. Longwarry Food Park

The Longwarry Food Park is the brain child of Rakesh Aggarwal who previously worked for Bonlac Foods as a contracts Engineer. When Bonlac sought to divest itself of the Longwarry plant in 2001, Rakesh started the long process of securing and decontaminating the site for the on-going manufacture of milk powders for export.
Many contractual and regulatory obstacles had to be overcome before operations began in 2005, and now the company exports Full Cream and Fat Filled milk powders to over 20 countries. With the significant support of the Victorian government, the plant now employees 35 people in the Baw Baw Shire, and currently buys milk directly from 75 farmers.

The Longwarry Food Park is a success story full of adversity, determination, and innovation.

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12. Kool Ideas

Terry Ingram has been self employed for the majority of this working life, and has turned his hand to inventing a CO2 emission control unit for use in road transport. Air conditioner units on trucks are normally left running while the engine is idling, using up a considerable amount of fuel to keep the cabins cool. The Kool Ideas unit is battery powered and operates when the engine is off, thus minimising CO2 emissions.
Over 100 complete units can be produced per month at the Bendigo pilot plant, and as the market grows in Australia, USA and Europe, manufacturing is envisaged internationally. The Kool Ideas technology has gained United Nation recognition for its ability to reduce greenhouse emissions, and is being tested by long haul trucking fleets in America.

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13. AIR CTI

Central Tyre Inflation has been used by armies all over the world to increase the mobility of land vehicles. Imported technology for the commercial trucking applications proved cost prohibitive, until Chet Cline worked to manufacture the major components here in Moe. Now the technology is a commercial success, and AIR CTI is in favour in Australia, with exports going to the USA, New Zealand and Indonesia.
Chet has invested significant research and development to meet the harsh demands of customers along the remote transport routes to Alice Springs, Fraser Island, Kakadu, and along West Australian beaches. The CTI technology improves the performance of a wide range of transport vehicles, and is particularly useful in agriculture to reduce soil impact and the compaction damage.

AIR CTI is an innovative business that is at the forefront of the trucking industry.

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14. GPS Ag

GPS Ag is the largest independent distributor of precision agricultural equipment and services in Australia. Its slogan 'Our technical support makes the difference' stems from one of the company’s founders Brendan Williams, who has dedicated his career to improving farm efficiency and production. His devotion is driven by passion and honesty, as he had moved on from the adversity of growing up on a Wimmera farm to supplying Farmers across Australia with the latest in innovations and technology.

GPS Ag employees 48 people from its base at Kangaroo Flat, and invest 5% of all paid time to professional development. This ensures that the staff understands all the farming technology and applications, and can justifiably demonstrate the cost and environmental benefits of all products supplied.

Precision Agriculture is a key focus for GPS Ag, which will increasingly affect sustainable farming and production as the onset of climate change continues. Brendan Williams sees GPS Ag as a driver of change for the adoption of better and sustainable farm practices.
GPA Ag is at the technological cutting edge of farming practice in Australia.

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15. Gundowring Fine Foods

Producing a value added dairy ice cream was a logical next step for Stephen, Sarah, and James Cooke, once they had established a successful farm in the Kiewa Valley. So in 2003 they built upon their French provincial background by attending the world renowned Pennsylvania State University ice cream making course, to learn and understand the science and technical aspects of ice cream making.

Gundowring Fine Foods is now tackling the super premium ice cream market, from a successful regional customer base, into interstate capital city distribution network. The step from the domestic kitchen to commercial production has been huge, and a few mistakes have been made along the journey, but the Crookes are expanding through product development, market research and innovation, to supply restaurants, specialty food retailers, farmers markets and food festivals.

Producing a premium taste using fresh natural ingredients reflects Gundowring Fine Foods idea of 'Real Food made by Real People in a Really Beautiful Place'.

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