The 30th Annual Ethnic Business Awards today announces its newest members of the EBA Finalist family. The 12 successful businesses across three categories ( Small Business, Medium to Large Business and Indigenous in Business) are indeed a testimony to the success of diversity, not just in our multicultural nation but in our business landscape.
The stories of our Finalists can be found below: for any further information, please contact Maria Tzovaras on 0295685022.
Saigon Fabrics – Jenny Lam – Sydney – NSW
Jenny Lam learnt to overcome adversity from a young age. She still has vivid memories of being in her family home at the age of 9 when soldiers moved in at the end of the Vietnam War. Left with nothing but a will to survive, her family fled to Australia in 1977. Arriving as refugees, her parents worked tirelessly for 5 years in a factory to make ends meet for their family of eight. However, in 1983, they decided that they could better provide for the family by starting their own business. Saigon Fabrics was originally established, selling all types of wool, cashmere and fabrics in a tiny 40m2 shop in Cabramatta. By 2000, Jenny took the reins and together with Susi, relocated and transformed the business into “a little bit of Paris in the heart of the Sydney CBD” – a one-stop-shop for the finest European, custom-designed bridal and evening fabrics used by renowned designers the world over.
Construction Consultants Pty Ltd – Michael Dakhoul – Parramatta – NSW
Arriving in Australia in 1982 with $10 dollars in his pocket, a change of clothes and a few textbooks, Michael Dakhoul can paint a striking picture of the catastrophic effects of civil war that left his homeland of Lebanon reeling in the 1980’s. With little grasp of the English language but safe from the dangers of constant shelling, it was a determination built on resilience and gratitude that drove him to make something of himself. The early years were all about knowledge and relationships. However, confident in the value he could deliver to his clients, Michael decided to take the risk and set up his own business, offering professional consulting services in the construction and development industry. From 2 people in 2010, today Construction Consultants employs 42 people with offices in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth and has plans to expand rapidly across the country.
Shuddh Dairy – Harman Singh – Arndell Park – NSW
Hailing from a small town in India, migrating to Australia in 2001 came as a major cultural shock for 18 year old Harman Singh. However, hard work and perseverance led to Harman soon graduating from university with exceptional grades. Settling into corporate life, Harman then spent several years working in the financial services industry. It wasn’t until 2009 that the entrepreneurial bug got a hold of him. After opening a highly successful Indian restaurant in Sydney’s west, it was in 2013 that Harman realised the potential for Indian dairy products in the marketplace. With little money and a lot to learn, Harman took up the challenge of setting up a manufacturing plant to produce and distribute a variety of Indian dairy products. Today, Shuddh Dairy products can be found in outlets right across Australia with major plans to expand internationally.
Vannella Cheese Pty Ltd – Vito Minoia – Marrickville – NSW
One trip to Australia to train a local cheesemaker is all it took for Vito Minoia to fall in love with the lifestyle and the ‘latte’. Renowned in Italy as one of the finest producers of traditional stretched curd cheese, Vito left behind a thriving, successful business to start all over again from scratch in the country he had fallen for. With family in toe, he packed his suitcases and set off for sunny Queensland where he began to produce cheese by hand in the kitchen of a Cairns takeaway shop. By sticking to trusted, traditional methods and sourcing the best raw ingredients Australia had to offer, Vannella Cheese has made its mark on Australia’s dairy dashboard. With its headquarters now in Marrickville NSW, Vannella operates out of its own custom built cheese factory with its eyes firmly set upon bigger premises, a bigger product range and an even bigger slice of the market.
Hollywood Nails Services Pty Ltd – Trung Dzung Le – Blackburn – VIC
From mannequins to manicures, Trung Dzung Le sat patiently in a Philippine refugee camp for 22 months waiting to migrate to Australia with his wife, two children and three siblings after fleeing Vietnam. Following 15 years of hard work as a dress maker, operating from the confines of his own home, Trung Dzung fell victim to the declining costs of importing clothes from overseas and decided it was time to re-invent himself. In 1998, Trung Dzung opened Hollywood Nails – the first Vietnamese Nails Bar in High Point Shopping Centre in Melbourne – and the rest is history. With 80 nail salons now operating in all major shopping centres across the state of Victoria and an RTO training school in Richmond, Trung Dzung Le puts his success down to passion, hard work and contributing back to his community and the country he now calls home.
iOmniscient Pty Ltd – Dr Rustom Kanga – Chatswood – NSW
For Rustom Kanga, starting his own business was always about legacy over currency. His dream was to put Australia on the map as a global player in the technology industry. Leaving his homeland of India with a great sense of ambition and adventure, Rustom moved to Australia in 1977, following a four year stint in the UK, with nothing more than “$100, two suitcases and a lot of hope”. Retrenched in 2000, following various senior positions in the technology industry, Rustom made the decision to set up iOmniscient with Hong Kong business partner Ivy Li to develop Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies at a time when it was not yet considered mainstream. The world leader in AI based multisensory analytics; iOmniscient now has a presence in 50+ countries, employs 100+ individuals and transforms large cities into integrated Smart Cities the world over.
Tempe Tyre & Wheel Centre – Houssam Taleb – Tempe – NSW
Houssam Taleb and his 3 brothers migrated as children from Lebanon with their parents in 1985. Financially poor and with little grasp of the English language, Houssam’s father became a fisherman and repaired boats in order to make ends meet. It wasn’t until 7 years later that Houssam’s father and uncle went into partnership, purchasing Tempe Tyre and Wheel Centre in Tempe, NSW. Houssam and his brothers quickly learnt the ropes by helping out at their uncle’s existing tyre business – Taleb Tyres. Hard work, perseverance and an unwavering commitment to customer service has since seen Tempe Tyres go from strength to strength. From employing just 3 people in 1992, Tempe Tyres now boasts an employee base of 200+ individuals, servicing an average of 130 vehicles per day in their retail store and expanding nationally via their wholesale division.
TNA Solutions Pty Ltd – Alf and Nadia Taylor – Sydney Olympic Park – NSW
Having both migrated as children from Scotland and Egypt, Alf and Nadia Taylor arrived in Australia with their respective families in 1966 in search of a better life, opportunity and freedom from discrimination. After meeting each other while working at Arnott’s Snack Foods and marrying in 1982, they set upon making a childhood dream of starting an own business a reality. Armed with Nadia’s persistence and encouragement and an idea conceived by Alf on the back of a beer coaster, they went on to develop the ‘robag’ – the first Vertical Form Fill and Seal (VFFS) packaging system of its kind. From the humble beginnings of their kitchen table, tna solutions now employs over 500 people and markets a wide range of products and services to provide integrated turn-key packaging and processing solutions to its valued customers around the globe.
Cultural Choice – Mark Watson – Walgett – NSW
Fortune favours the brave. And so it was for Mark and Jodie Watson in 2010, when the Newsagency business they had purchased in Gosford took a beating due to a massive downturn in customers. A result of major, planned shopping centre refurbishments and a sharp increase in online shopping trends, Mark and Jodie knew they had to diversify to survive. So, they decided to start an online stationery business with a twist. Cultural Choice began to create their very own Aboriginal stationery range, initially engaging the late Uncle Les Elvin for artwork and now relying on Mark, to whom he passed on the craft. Supply Nation certified in 2012, it is now the only independent, Aboriginal-owned and operated stationery and work supply company with a national footprint, boasting contracts with some of the country’s largest corporations and government departments.
Cole Workwear Pty Ltd – Chyan Cole – Yokine – WA
When her father Gordon Cole first established Cole Workwear in 2013 with business partner Michael Cima, Chyan started out as an Order Entry Assistant. Immersing herself in all aspects of the business, it took only 4 years till her father and Michael tapped her on the shoulder and told her she was ready to take the reins. Through good old fashioned hard work and a determination to succeed, Cole Workwear has grown to become the first and only Indigenous safety wholesaler in Australia, supplying custom designed, quality merchandise, workwear and Personal Protective Equipment to some of the largest corporations in the country. A certified member of Supply Nation and creator of the iconic, trademarked Boomerang safety range, Cole Workwear is now manufactured and distributed nationwide and throughout NZ via leading industry partner Bunzl Safety.
JNC Group Australia Pty Ltd – Jeremy Blanch – Armidale – NSW
In 2007, Jeremy Blanch made a decision that he would overcome huge obstacles and build a successful business, just as his father had done years earlier. In the aftermath of the GFC, Jeremy and his wife Nicole began to take on small development contracts to build up working capital to leverage upon for future projects. JNC Group began to expand rapidly as a result of their reputation and achieving Supply Nation certification in 2015 led to picking up contracts from further government and private sector institutions looking to stimulate investments into Indigenous businesses. In 2018, JNC Group now employs close to 30 full-time staff, 100+ subcontractors at any one time, delivering multimillion dollar solutions across a range of civil construction, infrastructure, signage, high level security fencing and commercial landscaping projects all across the country.
Zancott Recruitment Pty Ltd – Cameron Buzzacott – Stepney – SA
When Cameron Buzzacott partnered with friend Kieran Forbes to form Zancott Recruitment in 2006, little did he know of the challenge he was to face 12 months into the new venture, when Kieran was tragically involved in a serious road accident that left him with brain injuries. Cameron made the difficult decision to buy Kieran’s share of the business and continue alone. Twelve years on and Cameron has built the company from a small South Australian business with 12 employees, focusing on Tier 3 clients, to a national brand that supplies full service recruitment of 500+ labour hire employees to some of Australia’s largest Tier 1 companies. Through sheer persistence and a commitment to quality and clients, it is now one of the few 100% Indigenous owned and operated, Supply Nation certified, full service recruitment companies operating at the national level.