Past Awards


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Friday evening, 23rd October marked the 16th year of the prestigious Hunter Manufacturing Awards INC. (HMA), recognising and acknowledging manufacturing in the region of the Hunter, Central Coast and mid North Coast.


Chair of HMA, Steven Smith said – “This time last year, we had wrapped up the 2019 event and looked forward to reconvening in February to kick off planning for 2020.  Little did we know that 2020 would be a year, the likes of which none of us have ever experienced. All aspects of our lives have been turned upside down – where we have worked; what work could we do; having to teach children at home; unable to maintain physical contact with family and friends, and so much more. And for many of you, the added challenges of trying to maintain manufacturing businesses – not knowing where the whole thing was headed and what changes might be needed to survive – perhaps the biggest tests of your own resilience. So, when the HMA board met earlier this year, there was certainly doubt in my mind whether we would be able to hold the awards in 2020. Fortunately, I have a group of very committed directors who were resolute that the manufacturers of the hunter deserved recognition for their achievements over the last twelve months 2020 saw a lower-key event due to COVID-19restrictions, but the board of HMA felt that the need to continue to acknowledge and profile the manufacturers in the region, was more important than ever.” He thanked all the finalists and sponsors who willingly attended pre-recording sessions over a three-day period so recording of speeches could be conducted, in the scenario a virtual event may have had to be held.

Appreciation and thanks were extended to Downer, major sponsor for the 13th year and it was reiterated that without companies such as Downer, it would be difficult for HMA to continue to provide the recognition our region’s manufacturers deserve. NSW Government were also acknowledged and thanked for their partnership of the awards since its inception in 2005 and Mark McLean, was presented with a special award marking the recognition.

2020 saw the introduction of some new categories with a collaboration partnership award and a one-off manufacturing pivot award which was introduced to highlight the efforts, strength and resilience of those companies who re-tooled and adapted to the COVID-19 environment.

Steven Smith said – “Some of the award categories have changed.  Last year HMA established an updated set of categories that were considered better reflective of the nature of manufacturing these days.  And, although our streamlined event has less awards, we are pleased to feature some of the new categories including collaboration partnership, outstanding start-up and manufacturing pivot, which is presented in honour of Rod Murphy. Tonight is a night for celebration – our chance to celebrate the resilience of our manufacturing sector – to showcase, profile and promote your hard work, diligence and ability to adapt to a changing environment. It is hoped that your efforts will be rewarded and recognised well into the future and you are able to contribute to, and prosper through, the resurgence of the Australian manufacturing sector.”


Winner of the 2020 Manufacturer of the Year GREATER than 50 employees was…  WHITELEY CORPORATION: For a company of its size this company is impressive with regards to its approach to innovation, with all R&D occurring domestically, as well as stakeholder / customer collaboration. Whiteley also has a strong international reach with its products and customer base. As a local company it has demonstrated that it has responded rapidly to the challenges associated with COVID-19 and in a way that has assisted the local community i.e. being able to manufacture locally to supply the health care sector when competitors who did not manufacture locally had issues with the supply chain.


A HIGHLY COMMENDED WENT TO… BURGTEC: Burgtec located at Lisarow on the Central Coast, is an impressive company for its size and market segment. It is strong on innovation and meeting customer needs and is very worthy of a highly commended award.

MANUFACTURER OF THE YEAR LESS THAN 50 EMPLOYEES was  ROTACASTER WHEELS: This Australian business competes on the world stage with an innovative product that has been locally designed and manufactured. The submission was well structured and reflects a comprehensive business strategy supported by strong investment in R&D.

HIGHLY COMMENDED: BRAIN INDUSTRIES received highly commended for their excellent submission.  Brain Industries have shown a strong resilience, empathy and innovative thinking in the way they operate. They were able to achieve growth even in difficult times and have strong community focus and environmental commitment.

2020 RISING STAR AWARD winner was… HUGH MCRAE from MOLYCOP: a work placement whilst doing a Bachelor of Engineering (chemical) led to a job offer as a graduate engineer.  Hugh has recently completed training as a steelmaking shift team leader with Molycop and is now responsible for 29 personnel on a 12-hour shift rotating roster. As a frontline shift team leader, Hugh has demonstrated high levels of personal integrity and resilience, qualities he demonstrated when he was the project leader for the implementation of the manufacturing excellence system.  Hugh was also responsible for the implementation of a “sidewall burner system” to the electric arc at Molycop.  The system was successfully implemented. In the words of his nominator “Hugh has gained the respect and trust of his team and shown the ability to harness the knowledge and experience available within his team. In a field of outstanding candidates for the rising star award, Hugh is a worthy recipient.

A highly commended was awarded to ASH GESLER from BAE SYSTEMS: Ash joined BAE Systems at
Williamtown in their graduate program where she quickly exceeded the expectations of her role. Her most significant achievement was to project manage the relocation of the Hawk maintenance unit.  Due to her admirable personal and professional qualities, Ash was invited to MC the inaugural “Williamtown International Women’s Day Symposium” which she handled with grace and candour.

Winner of the Excellence in Sustainable Operations was CHAMBERLAIN GROUP: Chamberlain have developed and implemented a “sustainability strategy” with goals linked to their successful continuous improvement program. Their 5-year plan has already provided benefits of reduced energy consumption, less waste, and less use of water and paper. All of these focus areas are reflected in KPI trends published monthly to all employees. By training, and embedding sustainability goals into employee performance reviews, Chamberlain have set a strong foundation for ensuring a sustainable future for their business.

OUTSTANDING START-UP AWARD was awarded to…  SENQUIP A product that has been cleverly and deliberately shaped to a very difficult-to-define market niche. The founders have obviously made some tough decisions to decide what the product is not and have applied a great deal of discipline to evolve the core product that remains.   Senquip has already established great customer engagement and good national market penetration, with business systems well integrated with the product, ready to scale globally.

OUTSTANDING – START-UP AWARD – HIGHLY COMMENDED was awarded to… SAFEGAUGE: a fantastic product cleverly identifying what should be an essential market need. The business combines the energy of youth with the wisdom of experienced mentoring and is recently attaining an excellent revenue stream. Safe Gauge is well positioned to by-pass the national market stepping-stone and the opportunity to scale up and operate on the global scene more immediately looks very promising.

Collaboration partnership award was awarded to… AMPCONTROL, SAFEARTH AND NEWIEVENTURES: A tremendous example of collaboration to develop such a critical life-saving device.  A wonderful project that has been well managed involving multiple partnerships and key contributors from medical professionals, skilled technicians right through to manufacturing apprentices. To rapidly produce several prototypes and then collaboratively evaluate them to settle on a final product is collaboration at its best.

Collaboration partnership award – highly commended – WAS AWARDED TO… VARLEY GROUP: a very well-developed product resulting from significant collaboration. A submission worthy of commendation. Highly commended for this excellent example of teamwork and collaboration. Another great product from an excellent manufacturer. Well done!


SIRRON HOLDINGS:  Faced with being dependent upon the hospitality industry, the pandemic was set to hit Sirron Holdings hard with significant downturn in their commercial dishwasher products. Sirron Holdings have truly risen to the challenge, within eight days they completely revamped their supply chain and production line.  They have expanded their supporting Zexa cleaning chemical product line originally representing only 8% of their sales, Sirron Holdings was able to grow this chemical product line to the scale of tripling the company’s overall turnover. An achievement that is nothing short of incredible. 

AMPCONTROL: In the world of medical engineering, projects are measured in the order of years. Ampcontrol who had never previously worked in this sector has brought together a group of local companies including  NewieVentures, Safeearth, Restech and the University of Newcastle to deliver prototype ventilators for NSW Health  in only 11 days and commenced clinical trials only one week later. This pace of engineering most probably hasn’t been seen since long ago wartime manufacturing efforts.

HIGHLY COMMENDED was…BRIDON BEKAERTthe judges said it was a very well thought through submission and a very close contender for the award.

View Past HMA Winners


2018 MANUFACTURER OF THE YEAR – McLANAHAN – click here to read McLanahan’s report – 2018 – McLanhan -Perumin

2018 HMA BOARD AWARD – R&R MURPHY – click here to read R&R Murphy’s Report  2018 – R&R Murphy – Robotic welding expo UK Rev 3 12-11-19

2016 Manufacturer of the Year – R&R Murphy – click here to read Rod’s report  2016 MOTY – RR MURPHY

2016 HMA BOARD AWARD – Robotic Systems – click here to read Robotic System’s  2016 hma board award winner report

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