Representatives from Tumut’s star businesses filled Club Tumut on Tuesday night, to eat local produce, drink local wines, beers and ciders, and to celebrate local businesses at the Tumut Region Business Awards.
Tom’s Outdoors took out Business of the Year, with founder Chris Russell marvelling at the phenomenal growth of his outdoor adventure gear store at an average of 22 per cent a quarter.
He explained that over half their business is online, with parcels heading all over the country and 20 per cent going to Sydney and Melbourne.
“The fact that we can do all of that from Tumut is great, just great,” he said.
“Hopefully we’ll continue to grow, and hopefully we can act as a catalyst for outdoor activities in this area.
“All of our parcels go out with Tumut branding in with them, and hopefully we can put Tumut on the map a bit more!”
Valmar Support Services was another major winner on the night, with the Excellence in Business, Excellence in Innovation, and Business Leader of the Year for CEO Hugh Packard all going to the disability provider.
Mr Packard said that the not-for-profit had a proud history, being built from the ground up to now employing about 250 staff in Southern NSW and the ACT and turning over tens of millions each year.
“51 years ago a small group of parents thought, there must be something we can do to provide disability support services for our children,” he said.
“I don’t think any of them are still alive, but they would be absolutely staggered if they could see what Valmar is today.”
The awards’ major sponsor was Snowy Hydro, and keynote speaker, Red Energy CEO Iain Graham, said they were a fitting partner for an event celebrating small business.
“Snowy Hydro has a track record of nurturing small businesses and turning them into big businesses – and I can say that, because that’s what they did to us!” he said.
“Red Energy started with a core team of about eight immigrants to Australia, and before we even had a single customer we built an IT system that could support a million customers.
“Now we employ 1300 people from 50 nationalities.
“For us, it’s all about community, and we have the highest customer satisfaction of any retailer in Australia.”
Mr Graham said he had the same motto as AFL footballer Tom Hafey: ‘if it’s going to be, it’s up to me.’
“I’ve never heard of a business, or anything else really, find success without that line of thinking,” he said.
The Business Awards are held by the Tumut Regional Chamber of Commerce, all volunteers, and president Lorraine Wysman said it was a “labour of love” for the hardworking team.
“We’re all really passionate about this commitment,” she said.
She also took the opportunity to register the Chamber’s support for the upcoming Snowy Hydro expansion, and the attention it’s brought and will continue to bring to Tumut and Talbingo.
“We want you to know that we are excited, we embrace the idea, and we want a seat at the discussion table,” she said.