10 January 2023

2022 Year in Review: Canberra means business

| Kim Treasure
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From tech success to sad farewells, there’s been plenty happening on the business scene in 2022.

An ANU spinout business sold for $40 million, a butcher made his dreams come true and we said goodbye to an old favourite.

Take a look back at the local leaders who clearly showed Canberra meant business in 2022.

12. Long-serving carer at Canberra’s longest standing aged care provider lives by a code
by Dione David

Goodwin aged carer Sue Savatvong stands in front of a vase of flowers

Goodwin team leader Soutthida (Sue) Savatvong. Photo: Liv Cameron.

No stretch of the imagination is needed to see that Soutthida Savatvong – affectionately known by the staff and residents at Goodwin aged care as “Sue” – is the kind of aged care worker dreams are made of.

The Laos native grew up in a culture that held the elderly in the highest esteem.

Raised by her grandparents, Sue cared for them until they passed away in her teen years.

11. Former ABC News head Gaven Morris to join Region Media’s advisory board
by Genevieve Jacobs

man in television studio

Former ABC News head Gaven Morris brings extensive industry experience to the Region Media advisory board. Photo: Supplied.

Former ABC News Director Gaven Morris is the latest appointment to Region Media’s Advisory Board, following his departure from the national broadcaster late last year.

The ABC’s Director of News, Analysis and Investigations since 2015, Morris was also instrumental in founding the News 24 channel and has worked for CNN, Al Jazeera English, Channel Ten and the Canberra Times, where his career as a journalist began.

10. Bungendore butcher Sandy Tenkate snags his dream business in Cooma
by Katrina Condie

Sandy Tenkate

Formerly from Bungendore, Sandy Tenkate is the new face of Monaro Meats. Photo: Monaro Meats.

After 34 years behind the butcher’s block, Sandy Tenkate’s dream of owning his own business has finally come true.

When the opportunity came up to purchase Monaro Meats in Cooma, Sandy jumped at the chance to make the move from Bungendore.

After working for 11 years at Bungendore Country Butchery, he and his wife Tafline and their three young children sold their home, packed up and set off for a new life in the mountains.

9. RSM Australia sets its sights on its second century
by Dione David

RSM Canberra staff group

RSM Canberra’s Frank Lo Pilato says the business has not survived 100 years in spite of bumps in the road – but precisely because of them. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

RSM Australia made its mark by doing accountancy differently – getting out of the office and walking in their clients’ shoes. They’re still innovating as they enter their second century.

8. Don’t stress – home renovating is a breeze when Blake takes the reins
by Katrina Condie

G6 Concepts director Blake Harlock-Fletcher

G6 Concepts director Blake Harlock-Fletcher in the renovation showroom at Fyshwick. Photo: Liv Cameron.

With builders booked out for months and tradies in hot demand, planning a home renovation can be a nightmare. Blake Harlock-Fletcher from G6 Concepts saw the problem and became part of the solution.

7. Heaps Normal cleans up at Telstra Business Awards ahead of big Sydney brewery launch
by Max O’Driscoll

Three men with beers

Ben Holdstock, Andy Miller and Pete Brennan met while working in the craft beer industry and founded Heaps Normal. Photo: Supplied.

Canberra-born non-alcoholic beer company Heaps Normal has big plans brewing after taking out two categories at the Telstra Business Awards.

6. Solar battery demand heats up as electricity costs go through the roof
by Katrina Condie

solar batteries

Demand for solar batteries is on the rise in Canberra. Photo: Stephen Ning.

After years of waiting for solar battery systems to become more cost effective, many Canberra families have decided the time is right.

Canberra solar company Mondiaux Solar has seen a significant increase in demand for battery storage systems. About 80 per cent of new residential solar customers now also install batteries.

Mondiaux residential sales manager Garry Nagra says families are making the choice to become self-sufficient to avoid the rising cost of electricity.

5. New program to land year 12 graduates a dream job in hospitality for free
by James Coleman

Craig Shannon with hospitality students

ClubsACT CEO Craig Shannon with some of the students who partook in the pilot Career Pathway Program. Photo: Thomas Lucraft.

A new pathway into the hospitality industry has emerged for year 12 graduates thanks to a school-based apprenticeship program designed by Clubs ACT, the Canberra Institute of Technology – RTO 0101 and ACT Public Schools.

4. ANU spinout business lands $40 million navigation deal
by Aiden Rothnie

Vai Photonics' two founders stand behind a table filled with electronics.

Vai Photonics founders Lyle Roberts and James Spollard have been working together since 2018. Photo: Supplied.

An ANU spinout business focusing on navigation systems in areas without GPS has been bought for $40 million. The team is now working with its buyer Advanced Navigation and talking to NASA about using the research in space or on the moon.

3. Canberra public servant designs app to make sure no-one’s stranded by bushfire again
by James Coleman

Bushfire.io app

Tristan Morris’s Bushfire.io app is one of seven Canberra Innovation Network grant recipients. Photo: John Coleman.

Tristan Morris was running from the South Coast bushfires when he had an idea – an app that streamlined everything you needed to know about natural disasters. Bushfire.io has now won $30,000 in the latest round of Canberra Innovation Network grants.

2. Canberra success story opens next chapter
by Dione David

David, Ben and Deirdre Byatt stand in the Monaro Screens showroom

(Left to right) David, Ben and Deirdre Byatt form the Monaro Screens dream team. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

As David and Dee Byatt hand over the reins of Canberra success story Monaro Screens to their son, Ben, we find out what he makes of his folks’ legacy.

1. ‘We’ve gone through so much’: Belco Pets to close after 50 years
by Damien Larkins

Belco Pets at Oatley Court in Belconnen

Belco Pets is closing after 50 years in the community. Photo: Damien Larkins.

After half a century, Belco Pets closed its doors for good. The challenges of trading through COVID were the final straw.

Alexis Kilby-Luhrs started working at the local independent pet store 30 years ago, and she and her husband Drew bought the business 20 years ago.

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