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Published 22 August 2013 09:01, Updated 26 November 2013 18:35
Wallabies legend and Centric Wealth chief executive Phil Kearns gives the keynote address at the inaugural BRW GE Capital Mid-Market Awards.
Adam Spencer, radio star and the MC of the inaugural BRW GE Capital Mid-Market Awards held in Sydney on Wednesday night, had done his homework.
The small Victorian town of Longwarry, home to the winner of the Mid-Market Award for best regional business, could claim two great successes, Spencer told us. Not only was the town a Mid-Market award winner, but it was also home to Lenny Morel, who was named Australian Banjo Player of the Year for 2012.
I’m not sure which award will be held up highest down in the main drag of Longwarry, but I do know this – it’s businesses like Longwarry Food Park that typify the spirit and resilience of the mid market.
The business was born out of failure. Owner Rakesh Aggarwal, an engineer by trade, took the gamble of his life when he bought an abandoned milk powder plant in 2001, four years after it had been decommissioned.
He redesigned the plant, restructured the business and set about creating a $75 million powerhouse, where exports account for 75 per cent of sales.
Then, another disaster struck. In February 2012, fire shut the plant for seven weeks, leaving a damages bill of $5 million.
But Longwarry Park wasn’t going to be stopped. It bought more milk than it needed from its suppliers, which it on-sold at a loss to competitors, and it arranged with its insurance company to allow employees to work on the clean-up so no jobs were lost.
The guest speaker on the Mid-Market Awards, Wallabies legend and Centric Wealth chief executive Phil Kearns, summed up what great mid-market businesses have: a huge focus on people, great gut feel, a knowledge that decisions matter and a willingness to take calculated risks.
The Longwarry story has all these elements, of course, but it also demonstrates just how important mid-market businesses are to the wider economy.
These are our major employers, particularly in regional areas. These are the businesses that create jobs and take risks and see opportunity where others can’t.
This is the engine room of the Australian economy.
Below is a list of all our winners, with links to their profiles. Every single one has a fabulous back story, and lots of lessons about growth and resilience. We’re thrilled to be associated with them.