Auscare Pharmacy Gladstone manager Phoebie Peh with the business's awards at The Observer/Westpac Best in Business Awards on Saturday.
Auscare Pharmacy Gladstone manager Phoebie Peh with the business's awards at The Observer/Westpac Best in Business Awards on Saturday. Contributed

Small businesses show why they're the economy's bedrock

MINING booms come and go but small businesses are a constant. It's simple fact that is easily forgotten.

An emotional evening at The Observer/Westpac Best in Business Awards left the Gladstone region in no doubt - our small businesses have the passion to keep driving the economy across our region.

The Best in Business Awards were celebrated at a gala event at Yaralla Sports Club on Saturday night.

The program was designed to reward excellence in customer service.

Several winners choked back tears when accepting their awards and describing the journey that got them there.

Pat's Tackle World owner Greg O'Reilly won the category for fishing/boating/outdoors. Mr O'Reilly paid tribute to his son Liam, who died in a traffic crash in January.

It was a moment that captured the hearts and respect of an entire function room.

Another moving moment came when Be Pampered owner Cheryl Hopkins told the audience she had been three days away from closing her business down because she couldn't find new staff.

Out of the blue, three girls turned up asking for work and the business was saved.

Limestone Clothing owner Desley O'Grady won the award for best individual and used her speech to thank her father, who is terminally ill, for setting her on the right path to become a successful business owner.

Ms O'Grady enjoyed the gala event with her staff, who were all dressed by Limestone Clothing.

The prestigious award for best overall business went to Auscare Pharmacy Gladstone.

Manager Phoebie Peh collected the award and said it was made all the more special because the business was destroyed by a fire two years ago.

The Auscare Pharmacy rose from the ashes to win the region's top business award.

Westpac head of commercial and agribusiness Wide Bay, Jamie Leach, said the awards played an important role in supporting the small business community.

She said small businesses in the region were under pressure to find and retain staff, and that pressure often created enormous stress.

Ms Leach also said that while the mining boom had obvious benefits for the economy, small businesses were the "bedrock" of the economy and always would be.

She said Westpac was serious about making a big difference in the Gladstone region's business community.


  • Westpac - Best in Service (individual award): Desley O'Grady, Limestone Clothing
  • Overall Business Winner: Auscare Pharmacy Gladstone
  • Accommodation/ Resorts: Rydges Gladstone
  • Retail: Limestone Clothing
  • Home Furnishing/ Decor/Appliances: Open House
  • Professional Services: Fanelli Dental
  • Trades/Services: Ernie's Dingo Hire
  • Animal Health/Services: Sun Valley Veterinary Surgery
  • Fashion/Jewellery/ Accessories: Limestone Clothing
  • Industry: Corfields Electrical
  • Pubs/Clubs/Hotels: QRI Gladstone
  • Travel: Jetset Travel
  • Beauty: Be Pampered
  • Finance/Banking: Bendigo Bank - Calliope
  • Manufacturing/ Fabrication: Australian Garages & Carports
  • Real Estate: Elders Real Estate - Gladstone
  • Vehicle Sales/Services: Gladstone Nissan & Hyundai
  • Builders: Coastal Homes
  • Fishing/Boating/ Outdoors: Pat's Tackle World
  • Newsagencies: Park Street News
  • Restaurant: Rocksalt
  • Cafes/Takeaway: Annabelle's Coffee House
  • Health/Fitness: Curves
  • Pharmacy: Auscare Pharmacy
  • Not for Profit: Gladstone County Music Festival

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