Lake Mac Business Excellence Awards 2023

LMBEA 21 July 2023-6.jpg

View images from the 2023 awards gala event.

A record 146 applications were received from a diverse range of companies and individuals across the city.

Winners were announced at a sold-outgala ceremony at Belmont 16s on Friday 21 July. Most category winners will now progress to the Business Hunter Awards.

Business of the Year - A Growing Understanding

This award recognises an organisation that demonstrates overall excellence in their field. After thorough assessment from the judging panel, A Growing Understanding was chosen as the winner as the company showed outstanding results in innovation, contribution to the city, community support and work culture. 

Based in Warners Bay, A Growing Understanding is a private speech pathology service for children with communication and feeding difficulties. They are committed to providing high quality, personalised speech pathology care and flexible services. Through collaboration, excellence in clinical practice and an individualised approach, the business hosts a place for families and professionals to grow their knowledge, and for children to realise their potential, build their skills and flourish.

In 2018 A Growing Understanding won the Start-Up category with just three employees and have since grown rapidly and now have 33 staff working across three offices. This year they won the Excellence in Diversity and Inclusion category, were finalists for Excellence in Large Business, while Director and Founder Lauren Haskins won Outstanding Business Leader.

People's Choice Award - The Wholesome Collective

Based in Charlestown, The Wholesome Collective is a mobile nutrition service, providing practical education via fun and interactive cooking programs. They help fill a vital gap in community education by empowering everyone to eat well and develop essential cooking skills, no matter their social status, age, living situation, budget or health status. This ultimately reduces food insecurity and improves the physical and mental health of participants and their support networks, while offering the opportunity for social connection that enhances community.

Highly commended - Sunflower Strange

Outstanding Employee - Kathryn Barker, Sensational Start Occupational Therapy

As Practice Manager, Kathryn coordinates 20 staff to ensure three clinics run smoothly. She introduced a wellbeing program for staff to provide internal and external support for employees. She also established a Practice Managers Network to continue developing her own skills while helping others within the local industry.

Highly commended - Isaac Brambley, SAPHI

Outstanding Young Business Leader - Joshua Marks - Academy Sheetmetal

As General Manager, Joshua strives to lead Academy Sheetmetal towards a successful and sustainable future by investing in technology and training to stay ahead of the curve. This commitment has seen Academy Sheetmetal overcome hurdles brought on by COVID-19 and also being in competition with the Chinese and Southeast Asian markets. Josh prides himself on training and retaining local workers through the provision of apprenticeship opportunities.

Outstanding Business Leader - Lauren Haskins - A Growing Understanding

Lauren was the highly commended recipient for this award last year. She is the owner and Practice Director of A Growing Understanding speech pathology practice. She established the business in 2016 and since then, Lauren has grown her practice from being a sole trader to a thriving business with a team of 33. Lauren is reshaping the speech pathology industry with a continual focus on care and quality services.

Employer of Choice (20 or Less Employees) - SAPHI

Established in Warners Bay, SAPHI is an emerging technology integrator servicing the mining, heavy industry and government sectors. They took out several awards last year and with the growth they’ve seen since, attracting and retaining staff has been critical. They foster a positive workplace culture through several initiatives based on respect, growth, flexibility and family. They encourage employees to prioritise their family, mental health and wellbeing, embrace diversity and support professional growth.

Employer of Choice (21 or More Employees) - Evolution Advisers

Based in Warners Bay, Evolution Advisers provides financial services for clients across their business, professional and personal lives. Their focus on staff wellbeing allows their team to come together, support one another and contribute to the greater good. Each quarter they hold a family lunch to regroup as a team and set goals. Staff have access to professional services to support their mental health and physical wellbeing, as well as additional leave to support their studies.

Excellence in Innovation - SAPHI (Critcal Infrastructure Monitoring System)

SAPHI's innovative sway detection system has emerged as a transformative solution to address both new and existing needs within the telecommunications industry. It primarily focuses on improving the efficiency, safety and profitability of telecommunication towers. This innovation is a unique blend of cutting-edge sensor technology and analytical prowess.

Excellence in Sustainability - Imaginelle

Based in Redhead, Imaginelle is Australia’s leading sustainable skincare manufacturer and is the only carbon neutral skincare manufacturer in Australia. Australian Certified Organic, Imaginelle is committed to reducing resource consumption, with 100 per cent of its production power coming from non-fossil fuel derived energy. Imaginelle is actively reducing water consumption by investing resources into formulating products that can be manufactured using filtered water. As champions of sustainable packaging, Imaginelle actively guides its clients towards eco-conscious options, which 90 per cent of its clients have adopted.

Highly commended - OzHarvest

Outstanding Community Organisation - Business Growth Centre

Based in Gateshead, the Business Growth Centre is a not-for-profit organisation, driven by a social purpose, to empower the community, and support and mentor individuals and business to reach their full potential. They address skills shortages and barriers to education, and in turn, positively contribute to the overall wellbeing of the community. They provide essential education and training services to marginalised and disadvantaged people and advocate for social, cultural, and diversity issues.

Highly commended - Swansea Community Cottage Inc

Outstanding Visitor Experience - Tourism and Hospitality - CoastXP

CoastXP is an adventure tourism company best known for giving locals and visitors the chance to get up close and personal with humpback whales, dolphins and other marine life. Tours are led by ocean enthusiast Dominic May and his team of experienced wildlife guides aboard their custom-built boat. Since beginning in 2018, CoastXP has become an accredited quality and sustainable tourism operator.

Outstanding Start-Up - Astalty

Based in Macquarie Hills, Astalty develops software solutions that enhance and streamline the operations of NDIS support coordinators, prioritising user-friendliness. Astalty’s software solutions have received glowing testimonials from support coordinators who have been empowered to streamline their workflows and devote their energy to what matters most – serving their clients effectively.

Excellence in Diverstiy and Inclusion - A Growing Understanding

Based in Warners Bay, A Growing Understanding is a private speech pathology service for children with communication and feeding difficulties. A Growing Understanding has actively prioritised inclusivity in their business practices. They provide translating and interpreting services and create a disability-friendly environment as an NDIS provider. Most recently they actively improved LGBTQI+ inclusivity through training and aim to achieve the Rainbow Tick of Approval. They are developing a Reconciliation Action Plan to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and have undertaken cultural responsiveness training.

Excellence in Micro Business - psyborg

Based in Caves Beach, psyborg is a multidisciplinary design studio, specialising in branding, web design and digital marketing. They deliver effective, engaging, and user-centric solutions, helping businesses grow their online presence by ensuring every touchpoint is memorable and aligned with the client’s brand. They recently introduced enhanced brand workshops to help clients transform their brand story and energy with a clear vision and strategic roadmap, creating meaningful results for clients.

Excellence in Small Business - Fire Response

Based in Gateshead, Fire Response is the leading Australian distributor of essential firefighting and rescue equipment. They equip our local emergency services with the gear they need to keep us safe. They are leading the way in transitioning to the next generation of sustainable firefighting foam, partnering with industry innovators to bring international best practices to the region.

Highly commended - SAPHI

Excellence in Large Business - Lampson Australia

Based in Toronto, Lampson Australia supplies heavy lift and transport services and has 30 years of local industry experience. With cranes capable of lifting loads from 30 tonnes to 3000 tonnes, they support heavy lift demands at all scales. Well known for their engineering solutions, their fleet of heavy lift cranes can be configured or designed to suit customers’ exact lifting requirements, along with a healthy focus on safety.

Thank you to our sponsors


Newcastle Herald   UON_Restricted.jpg

Allambi Care   Charlestown-Square-Logo-Mono-01.jpg     Oasis Media       NPBS LOGO mono with clear space.jpg

Atune-Health-Centres      Hunter Water     Kent     Lamke Mac Holiday Parks        Ramsay Health Care        logo - stay virtually anywhere.png


View the Lake Macquarie Business Excellence Award winners for 2022