Every year, I get the great privilege to reflect on all the outstanding achievements of every applicant in the Focus HR Business Excellence Awards and choose one business to receive the CEO’s award.

And every year, I reflect that it is an absolute honour, to work at the Toowoomba Chamber and to stand up for the business community, our 540 members, who employ over 5000 Toowoomba residents.  

It is a responsibility I take very seriously.  One that I cherish if for no other reason than we are Australia’s largest regional chamber, in a city, built on the back of every small business in the region.  With business making a momentous contribution to Toowoomba, its economic vitality, its way of life, its community.

I want to put on the public record, my heart filled appreciation to all the outstanding applicants in 2022. 

In 2022, many applicants shared their stories, some with complete vulnerability of the hardships and rewards, others with endless positivity, and opportunities for growth as they join an ever-increasing group of local business owners taking their product and services from Wellcamp to the world and now into space.

I was reminded recently how storytelling is one of the most powerful crafts in the world.

Telling our story can bring greater outreach and enhance brand.

Telling our story helps bind us together and establishes connection.

Telling our story helps sell product and services.

Telling our story reveals our values in how we operate.

When we understand our own story, we understand our relevance and everyone else will recognise it too.

And in 2022, our judges remarked on the many extraordinary stories of our applicants.  And many outstanding achievements, like the:

  • water sustainability practices by Sunyspot Farm built on the visionary work of the Hampton Irrigators to secure water to feed us here in Toowoomba, nationally and people around the world. 
  • wonderful work of Samma Links in supporting and guiding people in our community who do not yet speak, read, or write in English.
  • brave and courageous post by Future Leader of the Year finalist, Molly Bell shining a spotlight on personal mental health challenges in a world were many people feel they are being pulled in a whole lot of new and demanding directions.  

This year, for the CEO’s Award

I chose a business who according to their judges displayed the drive and passion of what it means to be a small business owner.  A business that was resilient, overcoming enormous personal and professional adversity. It was a family-owned business.  Established in 2014, and they have a remarkable story.  A story of professionalism, honesty, reliability, cleanliness, and hope.

The story told by this applicant was vulnerable – articulating the highs and the lows, challenges and opportunities, hurdles faced, and hurdles overcome.  Failures and successes.  It created connection with the judges, and it connected with me.  It was purely and simply, “REAL”.

It was a business built on good old fashioned client servicing and delivery values which can only continue to go from strength to strength, the judges said.

This reminded me that behind every business is a story and behind every story is a face. 

It reflected that we can be both competitors and supportive and kind to each other in business.  A unique competitive advantage and strength that this region has over other parts of the country.

The Ceo’s award this year went to X Factor Plumbing.

I look forward to sharing other wonderful stories of the Hall of Fame Inductee and all the winners at the Focus HR Business Excellence Awards over the coming month through our media platforms.

And finally, it would be remiss of me, not to take this opportunity to publicly recognise and thank:

  • our wonderful partners and judges;
  • the BEA team including Toowoomba Chamber staff Lucas and Georgia, supported by the one and only, Jo Capp, Jodie Adamson, Emma Menyweather, and Anna Meredith; and
  • the many other local business who helped delivered the event with passion, drive, and excellence.

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