Hardware Industry Awards kick off in Queensland

Sales Rep Finalists.

Over 130 guests represented the Queensland hardware industry, on Saturday July 13 at Rydges Southbank in Brisbane, to celebrate the Queensland Hardware Industry Awards. 

Recognising all things great about the independent hardware industry, the Hardware Australia awards not only include several Store of the Year Awards, but also Employee of the Year, Sales Representative of the Year, Supplier of the Year, Industry Rising Star and Hardware Industry Legend Awards.

Store of the Year Awards

Kicking off proceedings were the Store of the Year Awards, presented by Hardware Australia’s Executive Officer, Alicia Oelkers. Highlighting four sub-categories, the awards are judged independently and are based on overall performance, employee retention, team building, innovation, marketing and community involvement. 

Award criteria includes confidential telephone interviews with either the store owner or manager, with each question discussed by the judging panel to source the overall winner, according to Ms Oelkers. Regional conditions are also taken into consideration.

Category nominations may be submitted by store owners or managers via self-nominations, industry buying groups or suppliers. All winners receive their awards along with a media release to submit to local media outlets to celebrate their wins.

Store of the Year Award winners:

Store of the Year – Under 2500 square metres – CNW Electrical Gladstone

Store of the Year – Over 2500 square metres – Sunshine Mitre 10 Gympie

Trade Store of the Year – BMS Mitre 10

Garden Department of the Year – Porter’s Mitre 10 Mackay City

Employee of the Year Award

The Employee of the Year Award is designed specifically to not only recognise those who continually excel within their day to day duties, but also recognise those who demonstrate ongoing loyalty to their store. Nominees are judged on their achievements over the last 12 months, knowledge of their department or current role requirement and standard of customer service. Previous winners are well known for going over and above for their customers on a regular basis and continually taking pride in their work.

Employee of the Year Award – Kathy Draper of Sunshine Mitre 10, Roma.

Kathy has worked in her role at Sunshine Mitre 10, Roma, as the store’s Retail and Trade Manager for over 13 years. During this time, Kathy and her team have worked closely in developing strong relationships with local builders since the store was taken over by the Sunshine Mitre 10 Group. Kathy has become so successful in her role, local builders rarely shop anywhere else, according to Ms Oelkers.

“Kathy is always looking for ways she can improve herself and her team, and is currently completing a Certificate IV in Building and Construction. Hardware to her is more than just an everyday job, it is a career for her to learn more and challenge herself,” Ms Oelkers said.  

Sales Representative of the Year

The Sales Representative of the Year Award is one of the most hotly contested categories, according to Ms Oelkers, with nominations often put forward by store owners and managers who believe their employee is one of the best. In determining the award, nominees are asked a series of questions including how they have gone above and beyond for their customers in the last 12 months, what they enjoy about the hardware industry, and their goals for the future.

“Past winners are often rewarded for going that extra mile for stores within the territories they look after, even if it means working on the weekend or driving for three hours to country stores. They will do what it takes to make sure the store has all the resources to look after their clients,” Ms Oelkers said.

Sales Representative of the Year – Nick Sommerfeld – Makita

Although Nick joined Makita just over four years ago, he has already achieved a substantial amount, not only for his company but for his clients as well. 

“Previously a carpenter by trade, the transition into power tool sales was seamless for Nick. Over the past 12 months, Nick has assisted his regional customers in achieving record breaking sales and has also taken a great deal of satisfaction in seeing their businesses grow as a result of his help. He is described as reliable, diligent and honourable,” Ms Oelkers said.

Supplier of the Year Awards

Boasting eight sub categories, including the overall Supplier of the Award, these awards are a significant part of the awards ceremony. In determining winners, a short list is collaborated by state committee members and a poll is put out to stores, with the winner of each category achieving the most votes. The overall Supplier of the Year also receives the greatest number of votes across all categories.

Industry Rising Star Award

Recognised as one of the most covenant awards in the industry, the Industry Rising Star Award celebrates a bright future, with Rising Stars renowned as some of the best and brightest youth in the industry. The lucky winner receives 12 months of industry mentoring and support to assist with their career goals.

“Criteria for nominees include being under the age of 27, with nominees either being a store employee or industry supplier, employed for over 12 months, and have demonstrated continued growth throughout their career within hardware industry,” Ms Oelkers said.

“A telephone interview is conducted with each nominee, with their responses then put forward to our industry mentoring panel who evaluate each person and decide on the winners. The winners for each state then come together the following year for leadership training and development, meet their mentors and set goals to assist in the achievement of their ultimate career goals.”

Industry Rising Star winner – Katy Nicholls-Hurley – Jeays Hardware

As this year’s Industry Rising Star Award Winner, Katy Nicholls-Hurley is described by her peers as passionate, knowledgeable, easy going and bubbly. Katy began her hardware career working within her auntie and uncle’s hardware business in Kingaroy at the age of just 13.

“When her uncle rang her and told her to, ‘put on black pants and a blue shirt and turn up at 9 am on Saturday’, little did she know this would be the beginning of a long career,” according to Ms Oelkers.

“Beginning work in the paint department, Katy quickly found a way to could combine her passion for helping people and her own creativity. It was no wonder, with her enthusiasm, that when she moved to Brisbane three years ago, she was quickly snapped up by Jeays Mitre 10. It is here that Katy has really flourished, becoming the merchandising expert within the store. Her customers know her by name and recommend her to their friends and family. Katy hopes to learn interior design and incorporate this into the hardware industry, viewing the two as working hand in hand. Her dream job is to be the female version of Scotty Cam,” Ms Oelkers said.

Brian Lee Hardware Industry Legend Award

The Hardware Industry Legend Award recognises individuals who display continuous commitment and support to the hardware industry within their state. These individuals have not only help shape the independent hardware industry in the past or present, but have also showed determination to secure their future; this could be through expansion of their own business, involvement in various committee and industry bodies or helping fellow hardware owners to reach their potential or get them through tough times, Ms Oelkers said. 

Nominations for this award are submitted by either store owners, managers, employees or industry suppliers.  

Brian Lee Hardware Industry Legend Award winner – Clint Spence – Beaudesert Mitre 10 

Clint started his career at Beaudesert Hardware in 1977 as a counter boy. He later became Store Manager in 1999 just as the GST was implemented, which proved to be one of the most challenging times in his career, Ms Oelkers said.

“Clint still has fond memories of Beaudesert Mitre 10’s 50-year anniversary. The celebrations included a full page spread in the local newspaper and a party with past and present employees and suppliers. More recently, the store celebrated its 55th Anniversary. Twelve years ago, Clint was recruited by the late Brian Lee to join the then HAQ committee and he now is the current chair of Queensland’s Hardware Australia Committee. He is also on the board of the local chamber of commerce and also has a seat on the committee for an aged care facility in Beaudesert. Clint is truly a valued member of the hardware industry and within his local community. He has a passion for our industry. He is described by his team as a quiet and selfless leader who wants nothing but the best for the people around him and for the industry he loves,” Ms Oelkers said.

30+ Years of Service

Several long serving representatives of the hardware industry were also awarded the 30+ Years of Service award, recognising over three decades of ongoing service to the industry.

30+ Years of Service Award winners

Jason Maltby – Bowen Home Timber & Hardware

Deen Saint – Sunshine Mitre 10

Gerald Harris – Sunshine Mitre 10 

Peter Preston – Sunshine Mitre 10 

Glen Salway – Sunshine Mitre 10

Brian Savage – Sunshine Mitre 10

Sponsors of the event included, Event Sponsor – Dulux, Gold sponsors – IHG & HBT, Silver Sponsors – Hyne Timber and Bronze Sponsors, Makita, Tabma Australia and Bremick.

The South Australian Hardware Industry Awards Dinner was also held on August 2, with all event details coming up in the September edition of AHJ.

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