Awards celebrate resilience in business

Business of the Year winner Damien Thurm from Definium Technologies with sponsor Dom Geraghty from the Tasmanian School of Business & Economics. Picture Supplied
Business of the Year winner Damien Thurm from Definium Technologies with sponsor Dom Geraghty from the Tasmanian School of Business & Economics. Picture Supplied

Last Saturday night, March 27, 2021, saw businesses from Northern Tasmania gather for the Tasplan Business Excellence Awards.

The resilience of Northern Tasmanian businesses was put on display with more than 200 people attending the cocktail celebration at Launceston's Hotel Grand Chancellor.

This year's awards were particularly tight, according to Launceston Chamber of Commerce executive officer David Peach.

"In our search for the best of the best, we asked for stories of resilience in a time of disruption," Mr Peach said.

"Testament to the optimism of Northern Tasmania, we received over 100 entrants in 20 categories which were trimmed to finalists in an exhaustive judging process.

"We retained the same categories as 2019 and the diversity of responses was gratifying, highlighting the resilience in the Launceston business community.

"The winners of each category can justifiably claim to be at the top of their game, in what have been extraordinary times."

"This amazing night reflects and celebrates the underlying resilience of the business community in the north and the high standards of entrepreneurism in Launceston," he said.

One of the most anticipated awards of the evening was 'Business of the Year, awarded to Definium Technologies, which also took out the Manufacturing Excellence award.

Mike Cruse is the founder of Definium Technologies, an advanced manufacturing company that specialises in IT motherboards that can be programmed to be used in any computing and technological product.

Mr Cruse spent 20 years in the US, many of them in Silicon Valley, building and developing the business, before returning to Tasmania.

"I grew up in Launceston and I'm doing exactly what I wanted to do 30 years ago, just two kilometres away from where it all started as a kid in a garage," Mr Cruse said.

Winning Excellence in Manufacturing, was the icing on the cake for Mr Cruse, who would love to see advanced manufacturing make a come back to Australia.

"The kind of stuff that we do, we are in the wrong hemisphere for a lot of it these days, and that's not to say that there aren't a lot of really innovative companies in Australia, there are, there's just not enough," he said.

Mr Cruse said he was incredibly humbled by the accolades his team picked up at the awards.

"We are really trying to grow this industry in Tasmania and to be recognised for our efforts is incredibly humbling," he said.

"We have such a great team at Definium, people often ask us if we can find people with the right skills in Tasmania, if we wait for skilled workers to come along we would never grow, so we take it on as a personal responsibility to train all our staff.

"I think as a technology company it is important to work with education and we've been working with UTAS, a partnership that will continue to grow to ensure that opportunities for skilled workers are here.

"Leaving Tasmania or even Australia to find work should be a choice, not a requirement."

Definium Technologies did not escape the impact of the COVID pandemic, with orders from the US drying up overnight.

However, the company accessed the JobKeeper supplement and emerged intact, adding jobs after securing a $4 million project.

"I see it as my way of paying back that support from the government."