IT'S a big event in Gladstone's social calendar, and all the glitz and glamour of the Best in Business awards certainly produced some worthy winners.
The awards were jointly presented by The Observer, Gladstone Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Gladstone Area Promotion and Development Limited, hosted by 2012 Big Brother winner Ben Norris.
Family business The Mix + Amici's Pizza took home the top prize for Best in Business Overall winner and also won in the Café and Takeaway category.
Check out all of this year's winners below and what the judges had to say:
Best in Business Overall Winner: The Mix + Amici's Pizza
Owners Angela and Brendan Norman plan to grow and improve their business, and will open a fully renovated restaurant in the coming months. They have invested in remodelling, extensive staff training, and are committed to use local produce, supply quality products and value to their customers. Brendan's enthusiasm and commitment to his business is very evident.
People Choice - Winner: The Garage Barber
The Garage Barber by Silver is recognised by the hairdressing industry as a national leader in its field. Rex has expanded into Bundaberg this year and plans to open another barber shop in Rockhampton in early 2018. This business has grown by an additional 2 staff in the last 12 months. Introducing a loyalty card for their customers, this business provides personalised service in a unique and themed environment. Rex Silver' business is image driven and image focused and their communication is built around social media with over 7000 followers.
Accommodation and Resorts - Winner: Mercure Hotel
Employing a staff of 20, with limited turnover, the Mercure is focused on attracting people to the region and promoting Gladstone as a destination. Their people first philosophy has helped build a strong schedule of corporate meetings, working with sporting events and destinations to help attract visitors to return to Gladstone again and again.
Restaurants - Winner: Encore
The restaurant has a strong international offering, with five chefs who prepare local produce from scratch. This business is diligent in its approach to customers and the service provided. Encore maintains a strong core quality of staff, they plan to introduce a live cook station that will move around the restaurant next year. They also cater for food a large range of allergies.
Tourist Attraction - Winner: East Shores - Gladstone Ports Corporation.
Winner of the national ward for Parks and Leisure association, this attraction is a clear destination for any visitor or resident in the Greater Gladstone region - an area dedicated to building an experience for families and visitors alike. East Shores is an asset that will continue to be developed by the Gladstone Ports Corporation, professionally presented and exceptionally well maintained.
Café and Takeaway - Winner: The Mix + Amici's Pizza
This business supplied a very strong written submission and was backed up by an enthusiastic and planned business program. The Mix + Amici's Pizza specialise in creating hearty, traditional thick-topped handmade pizza. Owners Angela and Brendan believe in developing their team through strong and thorough training programs to deliver customers service, and more importantly, great products.
Events - Winner: BAM (Beach Arts Music)
This event has been running since 2010. The team of volunteers have a strong event management plan, with 90% of stall holders being local. The event brings together over 2000 attendees with 100 stalls and the experience of local live music. The organisers have strong associations with local business and the community. This event is a must-do, not only on the local calendar but as a unique event for outside visitors as well.
Young Business Leader - Winner: Megan Leane - Megan Leane Dietitian
Megan's key achievements this year have been establishing a sponsorship program for local athletes, providing free nutrition services to individuals competing on the internationals stage and founding a scholarship for Gladstone residents studying at CQ University. She has also been recognised for her significant volunteer contribution by being awarded as the University of Sunshine Coast 2017 Alumnus of the Year - Rising Star.
Business leader - Winner: Brett Wilkins - Buslink
Brett has expertise in the Bus industry. He brought this skill to the operation in Gladstone, aiming to share his knowledge and develop his team through honest communication and upskilling.
Brett has implemented a clear process and structure and allows his team to take ownership of their role in the business.
Beauty, health and well-being - Winner: Boyne Island Physioshop
Boyne Island Physioshop have progressively grown over the last 6 years adding services as demand increase, this business is well lead by Esther Groen. Actively involved in local events and employing a stable and committed team. They conducted a customer service survey recently to help to tick the things that are done right and improve where they can. This business has a clear path for its future.
Professional Service - Winner: Sothertons
Sothertons have taken on change to improve their business in its 40th year which they celebrated this year, Tina and Steve have implemented a process where they have tasked the business to improve or change by 40 points in each quarter, setting a milestone of 160 changes in 12 months. Challenging themselves, their team and their business to constantly improve and define their position in the business community.
Retail Less than 10 - Winner: 2nd Life Traders
Here is a business that is forever expanding and learning new things every day. Owner Kevin McGuire has a clear unique mantra, have a go and do it better than anyone else. His vision is a business with 3 divisions: Second-hand trading, pawnbroking and deliveries. Kevin has a clear plan on developing and building the band on a larger scale. He has found a gap in the market place and developed a business that fills that need.
Retail More than 10 - Joint winners: Fordy's Spar Express and Hansen Foodwork's Clinton
Both these businesses have a long trading history in Gladstone, they understand their market and the position they have in this marketplace. With a large amount of competitors, both of these business have taken steps to encourage new business through their doors. Spending the time to provide valuable customer service, these businesses have focused on cost saving as well as providing that personal service that makes you want to come back.
Industry Engineering and Manufacturing - Winner: Boyne Smelter Limited
BSL business has been challenged by higher operating costs and new low cost competitors in a world market. Challenged by their General Manager Joe Rea this business continues to drive efficiencies and model new technology to gain a stronger foothold in the aluminium market. YTD savings through staff lead initiatives have helped to maintain BSL standing in the marketplace.
Best Individual Service - Winner: Rachael Coleman
Rachael manages three outlets. She has a clear focus on providing the best experience available for each buyer. She offers great customer service by way of programs such as 'customer appreciation night' for valued customers as a thank you for their valued support, the night has brand ambassadors offering tastings and information on products. This also provides a unique opportunity to gain a greater understand of the customer needs in the business. Rachael has also implemented training programs that have been developed for the local markets to ensure service is each staff members number 1 priority.
Trades and Builders - Winner: Calliope Plumbing
A locally owned and operated plumbing, drainage and gas fitting business. This business provided an excellent written submission, which had been commended by all judges. Jai and Candice also backed that up with strong interview with a clear direction on the business. This operation has shown strong goals and ideal customer service ideology that any business would be envious of. While Jia has been working for himself for the last 10 years, Calliope Plumbing came to life five years ago.
Entertainment and Recreation - Winner: The Compleat Angler
LJ's Compleat Angler is actively involved in local fishing competitions. This business is aptly lead by Liam Jones, with clear plans for growth and improvement. Involved in developing their own product lines for their customers, the Complete Angler brings together a fishing passion with some of the best fishing grounds in Australia. They have weekly promotions, monthly competitions and their aim is to develop strong relationships with their customers.
Auto and Marine - Winner: Bill Robertson Toyota
Bill Robertson Toyota is a family run business, operating under James and Erin's guidance for the last 12 years. Their aim is to supply a service that is recognised as quality through constant feedback from their customers. They employ 50 staff and supply one brand. This business has strong community involvement and a strong advocate for the Gladstone region. They are a strong believer in quality customer service.
Local Franchise - Winner: Gloria Jeans Coffees
This local franchise prides themselves on offering an outstanding coffee experience. Regulars are greeted by name and the staff are always seeking customer feedback with an aim to improve and enhance the experience for the customer. Well led by Paul Zettl and his manager Bailey, understanding coffee and what their customers like is a key to this local franchise. Changing menus and building a loyal customer base is another facet to this Gloria Jeans Franchise and the Night Owl Centre.
Not-for-profit - Winner: Gladstone Gymnastics
A well-presented submission, The Gladstone Gymnastics Club has over 700 members. This Not for Profit organisations faces the ongoing challenge of sourcing and attracting qualified overseas coaches to teach and develop their students. Servicing the community for over 40 years, this club has a vision that real gymnastics should be real fun. They provide for the competitive student who wants to compete on the regional, state, national and internationals stage as well as the fun filled environment for the wider community.
Innovation - Winner: Gladstone Community Linking Agency
Gladstone Community Linking Agency, through the introduction of the NDIS this business saw an oncoming challenge that could substantially change their model. They saw through this challenge and they have sought out ways to improve the viability and their value to their customers and the community. Innovation comes in many forms, and the Gladstone Community Linking Agency have implemented a program called 'Incredible Edibles' because they sought to innovate they have shown success in it's infancy, supplying to QAL for their 50-year celebration. This program ticks all the right boxes.
Business to Watch - Winner: Above and Beyond Swim School
Shad and Toni presented a well written submission, clear business goals for their future. They have taken a dream and desire to operate a swim school from their own indoor pool complex and brought it to reality after initial research identified an opportunity for a boutique style swim school. Their facility has won 2 regional building design awards for Best commercial renovation and Best Special project. Their first year in businesses has exceeded their goal for their number of children enrolled in their program.