A big crowd gathered on the western shores of Twofold Bay on Saturday night for the biennial Eden Business and Community Awards hosted by the Eden Chamber of Commerce.
The sell out crowd of almost 200 stepped out in their finest threads with a touch of masquerade at the historic Seahorse Inn.
The pearls and cufflinks in the audience added to the sense of occasion; a celebration of the Eden community and the people, organisations, and businesses that make it work and give it character.
Bega Valley Mayor, Kristy McBain urged the happy crowd not to take what they have for granted, “Communities like Eden just don’t happen.”
With one hundred and seventy-one nominees, the room was buzzing.
An independent panel of judges was pulled together to make the call on seven categories. A mix of local and out of town people, all with business expertise across a variety of sectors.
Starting with the nominator’s testimonial, judging was based on a number of criteria tailored to each category.
Mystery shoppers were deployed, plus there were interviews with supervisors, managers, and various other people.
Coming from a strong group of nominees, you needed to be at the top of your game to be announced a runner-up or winner on the night.
The winners and judges comments:
Customer Service Award for an Individual
Sepa Kengike from Southland Fish Supplies retail store
“Sepa is always going above and beyond to help her customers. She is known for peeling prawns for regulars who are unable to do so because of their arthritis.
She strives to ensure she has the correct stock for her regulars and her fresh seafood treat plates are a big hit with cruise ship passengers.”
Customer Service Award for a Business
E2B Phone Repairs
“This is the only business in the Bega Valley that specialises in repairing mobile phones and tablets. Its customer service is second to none guaranteeing their repair work for 6 months and maintaining a “can’t fix, won’t charge policy”.
They offer a unique range of accessories some of which are unique to this business in Australia.
They also offer great support services for the schools and preschools in the Bega Valley. Excellent customer service and always with a smile.”
Best Apprentice or Trainee
Mitchell Farrel from Acora Reneco
“Mitch is an exceptional apprentice who is doing the work of a highly experienced tradesman.
As a Fitter and Machinist, he keeps the workshop in order and always produces quality work.
From day one he was eager to listen, learn and respect machinery.”
Volunteer and Community Service Award for an Individual
Tracey Campbell from Eden Cash Mob
“Cash Mob is now 2 years old and is an initiative to support local businesses.
At first, a small group gathered once a month with the aim of mobbing one business with each person spending $20 and then moving onto a cafe. So each month two local businesses benefit.
This has grown to a mob of about 40 people with around 10 businesses now donating vouchers that can be won by mobbers and are to be spent locally.”
Volunteer or Community Service Award for a Group or Organisation
“The volunteers of Cruise Eden have looked after the visitations of Cruise ship passengers to Eden since 2005.
Endless volunteer hours are spent on the wharf or in the town with “Meet and Greet” or on shuttle buses as guides.
Volunteers travel from as far away as Brogo and Bega to support Cruise Eden to maintain their excellence in welcoming cruise ship passengers to Eden.”
Excellence in Business with less than 20 employees
“Sprout Eden aims to showcase fresh local and regional produce in their store and café.
They try to cater for all tastes and dietary requirements. All fruit & vegetables for sale are grown locally.
They are committed to creating a sustainable and profitable business while putting people first – customers, staff, and suppliers.
This is achieved by providing excellent service within a friendly environment and encouraging honest feedback.
Minimising their environmental impact is also high on the agenda and they have a strong record of supporting local charities.”
Excellence in Business with more than 20 employees
“Acora began operations in 1967 as Reneco Engineering and has expanded to fill a growing need for the manufacture and installation of equipment for the hardwood timber industry and also the softwood industry.
They install equipment in many states of Australia and also New Zealand. Their export business to New Zealand has grown by 200%.
Being a family owned company the business philosophy is based on developing strong relationships with clients and staff.
They analyse what the customer’s needs are and bring together the best combination of equipment to suit the task.
Repeat customers make up to 80% of their market.”
With the support of the NSW Business Chamber, winners in the ‘Excellence in Business’ categories progress on to the Far South Coast regional awards.
Runners-up on the night were equally celebrated and include:
- Kade Ritchie from Gippsland Tyre Service
- Eden Gas and Gear
- Stephan Booysen from Eden Motor Group
- Melinda Rootsey from Hair Lamartine
- Jenny Robb from Eden Chamber of Commerce
- Combined Churches Debutante Ball organising committee
- Supply Central
- Twofold Aboriginal Corporation
Tracey Campbell from Eden Cash Mob was overcome with her win. “Our next Cash Mob will be number 32,” she says.
“It’s amazing – one shop, the Saturday before we mobbed her she’d made $1.25 that week, we mobbed her the following Saturday and she made over $1000.”
Tracey says she has the mob’s next business in mind but they don’t know it yet.
“Any local business, employing locals can expect to be mobbed, if we each do a little we do a lot,” she says.
“Come along to Cash Mob on September 8 – it’s great fun.”
The winners weren’t the only ones making news on the night. Member for Bega, Andrew Constance announced $4 million for a cruise ship passenger welcome centre at Snug Cove.
Member for Eden-Monaro, Mike Kelly was also on hand detailing his discussions trying to get components for Snowy 2.0 shipped through the Port of Eden.
In an emotional reflection on her community, Chamber President, Jenny Robb thanked the nights sponsors; The Eden Magnet, Waterway Constructions, Pentarch Forestry, Regional Development Australia (Far South Coast), John and Jan Aveyard, Regional Express Airlines, Bega Valley Shire Council, Radio 2EC, Power FM, Wide Bay Shipping Services, J Michelin & Sons, and the Seahorse Inn.
“So many deserving winners. What a great night,” Jenny says.
More photos at the Our Eden Facebook page.
*This story first appeared on About Regional.