Mid West Chamber of Commerce and Industry Business Excellence Awards

Mitsui E&P Australia (MEPAU) sponsors the Mid West Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MWCCI) Business Excellence Awards, held each June.

The awards showcase leading Mid West organisations that are demonstrating outstanding performance through a systematic approach to continual improvement. 

Businesses are assessed not only on bottom line results, but to superiority of service, commitment to customers, philanthropic ideals, ethical behaviour and environmental sustainability.

MWCCI Previous CEO Glen Whistler-Carr said the awards are an opportunity for businesses look at how they operate, and to see how they can improve.

“Business owners are asked to look at how their business has grown or developed in the last 12 months and the last two years. They review what they’ve done and look at strategies for going forward. Then they’re interviewed on that.”

Glen said there’s a real advantage to an external non-biased opinion.

“Small businesses are so busy putting out fires they rarely sit down to evaluate their business, let alone seek coaching.

“Our head judge is Alastair Dartnell, Senior Business Banking Manager at Bendigo Bank. There’s also a local judge. They’re highly knowledgeable and they give feedback on what each business should be improving. They also give acknowledgement of what has been put in place.

“For many businesses, this is the only time they have input from anyone not working in their business. We’ve had businesses enter the same category for 3 or 4 years in a row, because the annual advice they receive is so valuable.”

Mid West Ports Authority General Manager Operations Geoff Mackin and MEPAU Director and CAO Ted Ishazuki at the 2019 MWCCI Business Excellence Awards

Small business makes profit for first time in 20 years after entering awards

Glen-Whistler Carr said one local business made a profit for the first time in 20 years after receiving feedback from the Business Excellence Awards judges.

Glen said, “Alastair said to the business owner, ‘You do know you could make a profit with this business, don’t you?’ She said, ‘I thought I just had to pay the bills’.

“For 20 years this business owner had been making an income that supported her family, but hadn’t realised she could also make a profit on top of that.

“The following year was the first year her business ever made a profit.”

Small business can use the awards to emulate big business

Glen Whistler-Carr said big businesses are constantly looking at projections. They have whole financial departments dedicated to forecasting, so they know which months will be critical.

He said small businesses are generally too busy being reactionary to look at the big picture in the same way.

“Small business owners are so busy they can’t see two months ahead and they can’t see two months behind. They’re faced with challenges every day that take the focus off what they really need to be focussing on,” he said.

“The awards can help business owners stay focussed even in times of crisis. ‘Yes we’ll deal with that problem, but this is the focus. This is where we’re going.’

“Businesses very often fall over because they don’t have time to look where they’re going.

“It takes time to enter the Business Excellence Awards, but it’s really worth it.

“The awards give recognition to small businesses that they don’t get from anywhere else. They get recognised amongst their peers and in the community. Winners use it in advertising, tenders, their credentials, all sorts of things. It does great things for credibility.

When you’re in small business you need every leg up you can get.”

2019 Awards

MEPAU Community Spirit Award

The Mid West Ports Authority won the Community Spirit Award, sponsored by MEPAU.

Mid West Ports Authority CEO, Dr Rochelle Macdonald, says they were honoured to win the award.

“Previously we weren’t engaging very well with the community, and we have done a lot of work to turn that around,” she says. “We were delighted to win the Community Spirit Award in recognition of our team’s effort.”

Dr Rochelle Macdonald says community engagement is a key part of the port’s success. Mid West Ports sponsors community events, facilitates cruise ship passengers getting into town by providing a hop-on/hop-off bus, and works hard to gain the trust of the local community.

“We operate in close proximity to the community, so we have put in place a lot of sustainability measures to make sure our impact to the town is minimised,” she says. “We have really focussed on becoming part of the community again. We want the young children who live here to want to work in our industry when they grow up.”

Mid West Ports Authority - ships in the harbour - photo credit Joshua Miles

Photo credit Joshua Miles

Locally Supplied Rum

Illegal Tender Rum Company supplied rum at the 2019 awards. Winner of both the 2017 Start up Business of the Year and the 2018 Tourism Excellence Award, Illegal Tender Rum Co set up a bar serving both rum and signature cocktails.

MWCCI Events Coordinator Sierah Lemmon says the rum bar was a huge success and allowed the Dongara company to further spotlight their products to local business owners.

Master Distiller Codie Palmer agrees. “It was a great night. A lot of guests chose to buy our local rum instead of the imported alternatives,” he says.

Dustin Nutter, MEPAU TAFE Scholarship winner


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The Northern Perth Basin

The northern Perth Basin is a prolific oil and gas producing area covering a large portion of the Mid West region of Western Australia. The town of Dongara, located approximately 360km north of Perth, is the regional economic hub for a number of industries, including oil and gas.