Despite major challenges, 2020 proved to be another successful year for the South West Business Excellence Awards with 41 business making submissions, along with 12 Star Business Person of the Year and 10 Employee of the Year applications. 30 businesses succeeded in becoming finalists with the award category finalists being unveiled at a Finalist Networking evening held on 19th November at The Esplanade Hotel in Busselton.

While pressures brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic have affected the global economy this year, 2020 has been a good year to be recognised as an Awards finalist. These high-calibre businesses are the cream of the crop of the South West business community, displaying unshakable passion, resilience and strategic thinking in the face of adversity.

One member of the judging panel expressed his amazement at the capability of the business applicants stating “I’m impressed to see how many local businesses are doing some amazing things and being incredibly innovative. There are some local businesses doing some really big things.”

Lengthy discussions were had by the judging panel in selecting winners for the 20 Award categories. Competition was strong with scores on the written submissions coming in only a few points apart in a number of categories. For the first time this year, the final selection of winners was settled after all finalists were interviewed by the judging panel. This interview process allowed the judges to deep dive into the heart and soul of the businesses and to better understand the drive in the people working within them. The judges were impressed with the local gems unearthed through this in-depth process.

Another member of the judging panel had this to say about the resilience of the businesses entering this year’s awards: “I’ve been extremely humbled and impressed by how businesses have coped with COVID-19. Businesses very quickly – some within a matter of days, who panicked initially but within days took the approach that ‘we are going to pivot and innovate’ without knowing any information about JobKeeper or JobSeeker. Businesses have now implemented many of those changes permanently.”

Of the written submissions received, just over one-half of the entrants fell into the Professional Services industry category. With so many amazing applications, it was decided that this category would be split into two sub-categories for people-based services and product-based services, with an Award being presented for each.

A number of outstanding applications were also received for the new major category Excellence in Not-for-Profit. The judging panel were delighted to see these fantastic local NFPs being recognised for the services they provide to the community and impressed by the hard work they put into running their NFPs employing a business-like structure.

Applications from businesses located outside of Bunbury has continued to increase on previous years. This year two-thirds of businesses entering the awards were from outside Bunbury, with 9 of the 12 local government areas in the South West region being represented. This is a substantial increase on previous years with 54% in 2019, 50% in 2018 and 37% in 2017. This steady increase in participation from right across the region shows the talent, skill and expertise that exists throughout our diverse South West business community.

The 2020 Awards program coordination was not left untouched by the disruptions caused by COVID-19. With various restrictions in place, the Awards coordination team saw an opportunity to adapt the program to better meet business needs in the ever-changing business climate. In the belief that the Awards application process encourages local businesses to closely assess and review their operations, the coordination team modified the 2020 Awards program to enable it to proceed. The closing date for submissions was extended and the team worked tirelessly to urge businesses, especially those finding it tough, to complete an application as a measure to help them evaluate their business model and, in the face of their current circumstances, identify ways to adapt their service delivery.

Restrictions on events and pressures on businesses also resulted in deferring of the Gala Presentation Night for announcing Award winners until March 2021. With the planning time extended and the current requirements on public gatherings, the Awards coordination team is now working on creating a glamorous and exclusive new format for this event – Details coming soon!

During these challenging times, the Awards coordination team and everyone at BSW Connect wish to extend a whole-hearted thank you to the Awards partners and the judging panel. It is only with their support that the Awards can continue to recognise the tremendous efforts and achievements of our local business community, especially during 2020 which has proven to be a year like no other.


30 Foot Drop
Advocacy WA
Alpine Laundry Pty Ltd
Arbor Guy
Asset Reliability Inspections Pty Ltd
AusQ Training
Baked Busselton
Bianca Turri Photographer
Busselton Jetty Inc.
Cape Abilities
Chestnut Brae Farm
Fusion Electrical
GP Down South
Heatseal Australia Pty Ltd
JG Accounting & Business Services
Kidd & Co
MJ Goods
Next Level Monkey Business
Oscar & Ivy Hair Co
Robert’s Tilt Tray & Hiab Services
Serenity Spa Capel
The Book Incubator
The Bull & Bush Tavern
The Green Depot
The Health Hub at Eaton Fair
Vasse Vets
WA Skills Training
White Building Co Pty Ltd