Companies on the Move

Brisbane's business champions honoured by City Hall

STEFAN ACKERIE recalls driving into Brisbane 50 years ago, to establish what was to become an Australian hairdressing empire, in his blue MGA roadster "people waving to me and me waving back at them". "And it's been that way ever since," he told the crowd at the Brisbane 2013 Lord Mayor's Business Awards on Friday night, where he was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award.

Continue reading

Cloud accounts system Gem goes to simPRO Software

AUSTRALIAN technology company simPRO Software has acquired what it calls a "cornerstone shareholding" in rapidly growing cloud-based accounting software company Gem Software Solutions. This is likely to give simPRO a new edge with its enterprise systems, giving fast-growing SMEs economical access to top-line accounting and cutting into the market of established players such as MYOB and QuickBooks. 

Brad Couper, simnPRO Software CEO.


This gives simPRO control of Gem Accounts accounting software ( that has been rolled-out successfully in six different countries, including the recent US launch.

Gem Software Solutions is to become an operational part of the simPRO Software Group and provide simPRO a position on the three-person board to help guide the growth of Gem.

According to simPRO Software CEO Brad Couper, the strategic investment would allow simPRO to offer a fully integrated general ledger as part of the company’s enterprise system.

“We will now be able to provide a complete end-to-end solution to the mid market and large business space,” Mr Couper said.

He said Gem Software Solutions was on track to deliver $2.2 million in revenue for its first fiscal year based on the current take up rate across its operating regions which includes Australia, New Zealand, the US, Canada, Singapore and, soon, in the UK market.

Mr Couper said Gem Accounts had been designed from the ground up to deliver a fully featured, scalable cloud accounting software system for medium, large and growing small businesses "with all the features you would expect in a serious financial package at the price of a reasonable desktop package".

This fits in precisely with the simPRO client base of mid market businesses and adds to the portfolio of simPRO’s cloud businesses and products which include simPRO Enterprise, simPRO Connect, simPRO eForms and simTRAC vehicle tracking.

“Traditionally we offered accounting links from our cloud product into desktop accounting systems, and recently have been integrating with the small business cloud accounting systems via API,” Mr Couper said.

“With the drive to the cloud, our midsize and large clients have not been able to take full advantage of the cloud accounting systems on the market as the smaller systems typically have feature limitations or system limitations, where the larger systems are often too expensive for the mid market.

“Gem provides simPRO users with a well priced, fully featured cloud accounting solution.” Mr Couper said.

The investment would also provide simPRO with exposure to the rapidly growing cloud-based accounting software market.

“With the likes of Xero establishing the broader market acceptance of cloud accounting we realise that this market is only going to continue to grow... with no major players in the mid-market we believe that getting in early will deliver significant returns in the long term.”

Gem Accounts managing director Andrew Crowe said the investment would provide Gem Accounts with the capital to expand its product offering and market presence.

“More importantly it gives us access to the knowledge and experience of a proven, Australian software company that has successfully expanded internationally,” he said. “We will be working closely with the simPRO team to integrate Gem into the simPRO group and to collaborate on international market growth with resource sharing where needed.”

Although Gem will be part of the simPRO Software Group, it will run independently and will not be limited to targeting clients in the same vertical niche as simPRO. Mr Couper said simPRO would also become a major Gem client, with the accounts of its five operating companies in three countries switching to the software.

Established in 2002, simPRO Software is a Brisbane based self-funded software company with operations in Australia, New Zealand, and the UK. It claims to be the global leader in job management software for the services and contracting sector to improve productivity and profitability in businesses.

Melbourne-based Gem Software Solutions produces the Gem Accounts cloud accounting software for mid market business. Gem Accounts is a fully featured accounting product with multi country capability providing multi currency, multi language, and line-by-line eliminations for consolidation.


Australian company Spondo wins Red Herring Top 100 Asia award

AN AUSTRALIAN streaming video monetisation platform, Spondo, has won a rare 2013 Red Herring Top 100 Asia Award.

Chris Adams, Spondo CEO.


Publisher Red Herring's Top 100 Asia list has become a mark of distinction for identifying promising new companies and entrepreneurs. In fact, Red Herring editors were among the first to recognise that companies such as Facebook, Twitter, Google, Yahoo, Skype,, YouTube, and eBay would change the way we live and work.

Spondo is a world-leading proprietary content syndication and revenue distribution software platform. Recognised on the list of  the year's most promising private technology ventures from the Asian business region, Spondo was the only company from Australia to receive an award.

"We are honoured to join the accomplished roster of those who have been honoured by Red Herring," Spondo CEO Chris Adams said.

"The fact that we were the only Australian company to be named to this list says a lot about the unique quality of work we are currently doing at Spondo. We look forward to continuing the kind of innovation that helped us receive such a pre-eminent technology accolade."

Red Herring's editorial staff evaluated the companies on both quantitative and qualitative criteria, such as financial performance, technology innovation, management quality, strategy, and market penetration.

This assessment of potential is complemented by a review of the track record and standing of start-ups relative to their peers, allowing Red Herring to see past what it calls ‘the buzz' and make the list a valuable instrument of discovery and advocacy for the most promising new business models in Asia.

"Choosing the companies with the strongest potential was by no means a small feat," said Alex Vieux, publisher and CEO of Red Herring. "After rigorous contemplation and discussion, we narrowed our list down from hundreds of candidates from across Asia to the Top 100 winners.

"We believe Spondo embodies the vision, drive and innovation that define a successful entrepreneurial venture. Spondo should be proud of its accomplishment, as the competition was the strongest it has ever been."

Chris Adams' appointment as Spondo CEO was announced in Times Square, New York.


Red Herring is a global media company aiming to unite the world's best high technology innovators, venture investors and business decision makers in a variety of forums, including print, online and exclusive events worldwide. Red Herring provides an insider's access to the global innovation economy, identifying new and innovative technology companies and entrepreneurs.

The Red Herring 100 awards for North America, Europe, Asia and Global have recognised more than 5,000 companies in their early stages, including Baidu, Google, eBay and Skype.

Spondo's proprietary content syndication and revenue distribution software empowers publishers to monetize their content on any website, tablet PC or Smart device/TV via streaming Pay-Per-View, VOD and more.

Based in Melbourne, Spondo seeks to connect content owners with affiliates and their communities through an innovative business model of revenue sharing, turnkey technology solutions and marketing tools that make it easy to make money from content worldwide.

Spondo is owned by holding company RivusTV Limited.


Specialist cheesy grinner are winners in TV program tracking Telstra Business Awards

BRUNY Island Cheese Co. owner Nick Haddow, whose business was named 2013 Telstra Australian Business of the Year, will get a significant promotional boost tonight when his business is featured on Sky Business News.

Nick Haddow, Bruny Island Cheese Co.


Mr Haddow is one of those profiled in Stories of Success: The Telstra Business Awards which tells the background stories on the tumultuous pathways to success for some of Australia's best small and medium businesses.

The program shares stories of resilience, toil and determination behind the scenes of the 2013 Telstra Australian Business Awards national finalists.

The program visits Bruny Island Cheese Company's artisan cheese making operation in Tasmania, exploring how Mr Haddow has turned back the clock to marry mouth-watering artisan produce with a business of the future. Bruny Island Cheese Co. was started by Nick Haddow, after he spent 10 years working with specialist cheese makers in many different countries around the world.

Mr Haddow and his partner Leonie settled on Bruny Island in Southern Tasmania in 2001 to start making cheese for themselves.

 "The program exposes viewers to an inspiring bunch of characters who are absolutely determined, passionate people," Mr Haddow said.

"There's an amazing diversity of small business people in Australia and what ties them together, and sets them apart, is they simply can't cope with not giving it a go.

"It's really important we share stories because many businesses are small, geographically isolated, or simply flat out doing what they do.

"We're inspired by other like minded business people and can learn the practicalities of what works for them to save time and money."

The program is a TV first. In one hour it follows the journey of eight diverse business people from around the nation who were named as the Telstra Business of the Year in their state or territory and were in the running for the 2013 Australian Business of the Year.

Others featured in Stories of Success: The Telstra Business Awards include a young motorcycle manufacturer taking his wares to the world and a former Victorian detective who left behind a life fighting crime to "fight creepy crawlies" with a pest control business in the Top End of Australia.

Stories of Success: The Telstra Business Awards plays on Sky News Business on September 9 at 10.30pm with encore screenings on September 14 at 9.30am and September 15 at 9.30am and 5.30pm.  


Boxer Danny Green travels like a champion

REIGNING world champion boxer Danny Green certainly knows his way around the ring and now he is going into a travel business that aims to run rings around traditional package holiday companies.

Boxing champion Danny Green starts his own holiday packaging business.

After a stellar boxing career, Danny Green now a partner in  Champion Holidays, a new division of innovative travel company Ignite Travel Group.

While in many ways Mr Green sees the business as part of his post-boxing career, right now he is concentrating on his newest venture with the same level of intensity he usually reserves for his opponents.

"Everyone deserves a holiday, but I understand that it can be a massive part of a family's wage and budget," Mr Green said.

"For me, an investment that important has to guarantee value without compromising quality.

"I personally love travelling with my family and saw Champion Holidays as the perfect opportunity to use the knowledge and experience we have gathered exploring the world together to assist others in their travel endeavours.

"It's not a brand endorsement; this is about helping everyday Australians to take a break and enjoy quality time out with their family or friends in a new or favourite destination. We offer four and five star properties at an unbeatable price."

Champion Holidays aims to offer Australian outbound and national travellers affordable, packaged holidays to a selection of the world's most sought-after destinations.

For the moment, Mr Green's firm is concentrating on Fiji, Bali, Hawaii, Thailand and Queensland, bundling airfares, accommodation and handpicked bonus extras for clients.

According to Randall Deer - founder and managing director of Ignite Travel Group, which is also the parent company of The Holiday Centre which ranked highly in the 2012 BRW Fast 100 list - Danny Green was the perfect fit for the venture.

"Danny has an amazing attitude to life and has achieved many triumphs. He is all about the people and making sure they get a fair go when it comes to taking a holiday," Mr Deer said.

"That's why we knew Danny and Champion Holidays would be a winner. He understands and appreciates the value of a great travel deal and our promise to deliver the best possible experience for every type of traveller."

As a professional athlete, Mr Green said he had been fortunate to travel the world as part of his career and he knew that when it came to booking a travel deal, "superior service and excellent value go a long way in delivering a great all round experience".

"I've tried and tested many travel products and a lot of research and hard work has been invested in Champion Holidays to ensure any deal offered by me, with my name on it, represents the best value in the market for the punters," Mt Green said.

"We don't want people to have to waste time shopping around for the best price or deal. It's not about the good, bad and the ugly - just the good. It may mean we market fewer deals than some competitors, but the deals we do offer will be top quality.

"I am thrilled to be working with Ignite Travel Group on this venture, which I believe represents a genuine deal with an attractive price tag that will result in a quality travel experience to some of my own favourite travel experiences worldwide."



Capital injection and debt restructure sparks PSG to take on Qld blue chip projects

AFTER securing a host of blue chip projects in Queensland - including the Brisbane Supreme and District Courts, Lotus Glen Correctional facility, DP World Terminal development at the Port of Brisbane, and the Gold Coast University Hospital - electrical, data and communications services company Pacific Services Group (PSG) has taken on a restructure and a $10 million capital injection from existing investors to chase more top-tier work in Queensland.

PSG interim CEO Peter White.


PSG interim chief executive Peter White said the financial boost would allow a restructuring and recapitalisation of the group so it could focus on further developing its pipeline of projects, while providing greater certainty for its workforce and construction clients. PSG has also reached agreement with financiers to restructure debt.

Mr White said with an annual turnover of more than $300 million, PSG employed more than 1200 people across Australia, including 280 in Queensland. He said it was evident the Queensland construction industry was now emerging from a significant period of challenge.

"This additional investment and restructure of debt is a significant vote of confidence in the company and will enable PSG to strengthen its balance sheet," Mr White said.

"The Queensland and national construction industry has been in contraction for an extended period, but the sector is emerging from a challenging period and this investment makes us well placed to capitalise on the rebound.

"While some of our competitors have not been able to weather the storm, our restructured balance sheet and low debt provides a strong platform to win further work and increase our market share by focusing on top-end projects - good news for our Queensland workforce and the local economy." 

Mr White said part of the company's future growth strategy involved a continued expansion of its involvement in the maintenance and lifecycle of buildings. The company already has some of Australia's largest companies as clients.

"We have recently moved from a manual intensive system and invested in a nationalised IT platform that automates maintenance job requests. This enables our maintenance workforce to be more responsive and give customers immediate updates so they get greater certainty that their needs are being met," Mr White said.

The company operates in a broad range of sectors including public infrastructure, defence, mining, rail, industrial, manufacturing, commercial and marine.

In Queensland, PSG is currently installing railway station electrical infrastructure on the Richland to Darra rail corridor upgrade. Recently, in the landmark $600 million Brisbane Supreme Court and District Court build, the State Government engaged PSG to design, develop and install all electrical systems.

At the $450 million expansion to the Lotus Glen Correctional facility, accommodating 700 inmates, PSG supplied and delivered electrical and communication services, while as part of the $140 million DP World Terminal Development expansion at the Port of Brisbane, PSG conducted supporting electrical work.

PSG also recently installed electrical and communications packages as part of a $1.76 billion state-of-the-art Gold Coast University Hospital infrastructure development.


Mr White said part of the reason for its success is that PSG has highly evolved quality assurance and safety systems and is a leader in ecologically sustainable development.

Mr White is due to complete his term as interim CEO of Pacific Services Group on September 9, when newly appointed CEO Jeff Bretz moves into the role. Mr White has been in the CEO's seat since August 2012 and a PSG board statement credited him with having "steered the company through some very difficult trading conditions and overseen the recent successful recapitalisation of the company".

Mr Bretz has extensive construction and electrical industry credentials from his experience with Silcar Pty Ltd, Tyco Australia Pty Ltd and ABB Industries in Australia, Asia and the Middle East.


Jeff Bretz takes on new CEO role at PSG.


Riviera wins 25% sales increase and two awards at Sydney International Boat Show

RESURGENT Australian luxury boat designer and manufacturer, Riviera, has celebrated a 25 percent boost in sales at the recent Sydney International Boat Show, as well as picking up two awards.

Riviera chairman and owner, Rodney Longhurst.

Riviera’s new 50 Enclosed Flybridge seemed to be the vessel that impressed luxury boat buyers with its world release at the show. There were multiple sales of the model among Riviera’s $14.8 million in total retail sales at the event.

Riviera’s chairman and owner Rodney Longhurst said he was extremely proud of Riviera’s achievements at the Sydney International Boat Show.

"The past 16 months at Riviera has been a true career highlight for me and it is extremely gratifying to see Riviera return to its former glory,” Mr Longhurst said. “I am proud to announce that my family settled on the purchase of Riviera’s 14-hectare Coomera property on July 8, and if the recent boat show results are anything to go by, I believe Riviera can look forward to a very bright future."

Riviera -- which just a couple of years ago was enduring a long period of Global Recession-induced decline and subsequent administration -- recorded 10 new boat sales across all models from 36 feet to 63 feet, including one 3600 Sport Yacht, one 445 SUV, three 50 Enclosed Flybridges, two 5000 Sport Yachts, one Belize 54, one 565 SUV, and one 63 Enclosed Flybridge.

"It has certainly been a very prosperous time for Riviera with $51.8 million in total retail sales recorded over the past nine weeks," Mr Longhurst said.

"It was also an honour to win two BIA awards for Best Marine Display and Best Overall Display at this year’s Sydney show.

"I commend our team of master craftsmen and designers for the huge effort they have put into creating and building our first 50 Enclosed Flybridge for world release at the show. I would also like to publicly recognise the tremendous support from our dedicated crew who worked tirelessly over the five days of the show.”

Riviera’s chief executive officer Wes Moxey said Riviera’s new models have been extremely well received.

“Riviera’s sales at the Sydney International Boat Show are up by 25 percent on last year signifying the growth that Riviera is now enjoying and we have a significant number of sea trials booked across the range so we expect this number to grow over the coming weeks,” Mr Moxey said.

"The new design features of the 50 Enclosed Flybridge really impressed boating enthusiasts at the show. The fresh approach to the Euro style interior with a very impressive accommodation plan comprises three generous and equally sized cabins and two equally large bathrooms.

"The island barbecue centre with two transom doors and the extended swim platform creates one massive entertaining deck. The all new 50 is certainly a very spacious and accommodating boat.

“With more than 58,000 visitors attending the show over the five day event, the Sydney International Boat Show has proved to be an extremely successful show for Riviera and Belize.

"Riviera has also just finished the 2013 financial year and we are pleased to announce that 55 percent of our luxury new boats were exported last year, which is a significant achievement. We can definitely see the return to confidence in both the United States and Australian markets with a large number of our recent sales bound for international ports.

"Riviera now has a very busy production schedule with our order books filled into the New Year, in fact, our forward order sales are double the volume they were this time last year, and we are actively looking to grow our production staff numbers to meet this rising demand.”

Mr Moxey said preparations are already underway for the Auckland On Water Boat Show in New Zealand in September, the Fort Lauderdale Boat Show in October, and the Gold Coast International Marine Expo in November.

Riviera is well on the way to full recovery and now offers 15 different models from 36 to 75 feet across three model series Flybridge, Sport Yacht and the new SUV collection.

In 2012 Riviera celebrated the launch of its 5000th boat, the 445 SUV, a significant achievement in the company’s rich 33-year history.


Business Acumen RSS Feed

feed-image Feed Entries

Contact Us


PO Box 2144