EY reveals the Western Region’s three Entrepreneur Of The Year finalists in Perth

05 August 2018 Consultancy.com.au 5 min. read

Ernst & Young, the Big Four accounting and consulting firm has awarded three Western Australians the Entrepreneur of the Year award for the Western Region. The finalists will go on to compete against the other regional finalists at the nationals, held in Sydney this October. 

The Entrepreneur of the Year is one of the world’s most prestigious awards celebrating the brightest minds disrupting businesses in every sector in Australia. The Western Region is one of five separate areas across the country but spreads throughout 145 cities worldwide. The finalists will go on to compete in Sydney with others from around the country and the national winners will travel to Monte Carlo, Monaco for the global 2019 Entrepreneur of the Year awards. 

The three finalists were announced last Thursday night at a ceremony held by EY in Perth. They are Aidan Jenkins of Infinite Energy, Wayne Peel of Engenium, and Tony Routledge from AVI. There was also a separate non-competitive category which included a winner for social entrepreneurship, Fintech and an overall champion of entrepreneurship.

EY reveals the Western Region’s three Entrepreneur Of The Year finalists in Perth

Infinite Energy is a relatively new solar energy company which is shaking up the traditional solar business model. The company offers third party ownership which means that private homes, businesses or government can have solar panels installed on their property and then the consumer buys the energy from the company at up to 40% less than the standard rate.

This brings down the price of purchase and installation which is commonly the greatest barrier to adopting solar panels and takes away maintenance costs. The judges said that “Aidan’s innovative concept is at the forefront of the important changes in this industry, with the potential to impact significantly on householders. He saw a market opening as an early adopter and seized it. This is a 21st century business in a growth market.”

Engenium is a professional services firm which consults on projects in the resource and industrial infrastructure sector. The firm is based out of Perth and currently has 130 staff spread across WA, Queensland and NSW. Wayne Peel took the reins at Engenium after a downturn and a management buyout three years ago, when the staff count equalled 12.  

Peel turned the firm around to focus explicitly on exceptional customer service, employing hard-working people and creating a fun working environment. The judges said of Peel: “Wayne is articulate, passionate and engaging when describing Engenium’s business model and the reason for its success. It is clear that Wayne has encouraged a collegiate culture within the business which encourages innovation, flexibility and a focus on the clients’ needs. He has a good handle of market downturns and incorporating market cycles in his growth strategy.” 

AVI is a technology based hard and software solutions company which provides its services in communications to security. The company designs mission critical systems and implements them from corporate settings to courts and parliaments and from war zones to the mining sector. Tony Routledge started the company with his brother nearly 30 years ago and has “continually reinvested into the business, steering it into new global markets, and growing AVI into a leader in the field of highly trusted, secure and rugged communication systems,” according to EY.

“Tony and his team have built a niche electronics business which is differentiated by the quality and size of its clients. It is very difficult for a small company to become a trusted supplier to the US military and AVI is supplying to a very sensitive sector, the Special Forces, where reliability is paramount. It is impressive how AVI are making such unique products in the world. Also the growth of AVI has been entirely funded by Tony’s capital and retained earnings,” the judges commented.

Pioneers in their fields

Fiona Drummond, EY Perth’s Managing Partner, said that the finalists this year are true pioneers in their respective fields and that they’ve shown character running their businesses in tough economic conditions.“Our finalists demonstrate the growth and diversification in the state. It’s particularly exciting to see that their success comes from within WA’s traditional expertise of mining services and also other industries such as solar power, communications and security.”

“It’s also great to be able to honour great business leaders outside of the competitive categories, this year they are: our Social entrepreneur - Alicia Curtis from 100 Women; our Fintech entrepreneur, Dr Jemma Green from Power Ledger; and our Champion of Entrepreneurship, Gina Rinehart.”

“Nurturing the development of entrepreneurs through their journey as they grow, disrupt themselves or others is something we at EY are fortunate to be a part of.  The finalists this year, and in fact all the entrepreneurs in the program are crucial in supporting the growth and development of the WA economy,” Ms Drummond said.