From a humble distillery in Kingston, Lark Distillery now produces world-class single malt whisky of international acclaim, and has been honoured with the 2014 Telstra Tasmanian Business of the Year award. Presented by the Premier of Tasmania Will Hodgman, the award hands Lark Distillery the mantle from last year’s 2013 Telstra Business of the Year, Bruny Island Cheese Co., who won both the Tasmanian and national overall award.
Established by Bill and Lyn Lark in 1992, the boutique producer was one of the first companies to export Australian malt whisky to the US and in 2011 won the Gold Medal Whisky of the Year at the International Whisky Competition.
The first licensed distillery to open in Tasmania since 1839, the Hobart distillery now employs 18 full-time staff. It has added vodka, gin, rum and liqueurs to its product line and recently acquired Overeem Whisky.
Founder Bill Lark says their success stems from starting small and thinking big.
“Like many of Tasmania’s other premium food and beverage businesses, our success stems from small-scale production of high-quality, high-value products,” Mr Lark said.
Mr Lark says he had a vision for an industry, not just a business, and proudly supports local producers – promoting other whiskies and beverages at Lark’s cellar door and whisky bar, and mentoring start-up distilleries in Tasmania and the mainland.
“We’re committed to the co-operative development of a distilling industry in Tasmania and will continue to guide and mentor the Tasmanian whisky industry and brand.”
Other winners of the Telstra Tasmanian Business Awards include Jessica Webb’s rehabilitation and fitness start-up, Your Path to Health, and creative agency Handbuilt Creative, whose owner David Shering has developed two software systems to streamline complex and inexpensive website creation.
Long standing family-owned quarrying business, Stornoway, which is operating nationally and supplies a diverse range of quarry products to industrial, commercial and government customers in Australia and South East Asia, won both the Medium Business Award and the Regional Award.
The Launceston-based company has secured contracts with the Tasmanian Government, Australian Defence Force and Fortescue Metals Group, with exponential growth in the past five years seeing revenue triple and staff numbers increasing from 45 to 110.
Will Irving, Telstra Business Group Managing Director and Ambassador for the Telstra Australian Business Awards, said: “All the winners are brilliant and inspirational businesses whose owners are recognised for their professionalism, innovation, leadership and creative use of technology.
“Lark Distillery has stretched itself internationally, achieving local and global notoriety, in the process becoming a significant ambassador of the industry – mentoring and leading from behind.
“The Telstra Awards Judges commended the business’ exceptional financial and business process structure and awarded a perfect score for outstanding vertical integration of its manufacturing, wholesale and export, retail and tourism pillars,” Mr Irving said.
More than $800,000 in prizes will be shared by winners of the 2014 state, territory and national Telstra Business Awards – a program that has celebrated Australian small and medium businesses since 1992.
Winners of the 2014 Telstra Tasmanian Business Awards include:
Telstra Tasmanian Business of the Year – Lark Distillery, Hobart
Start-Up Award –Your Path to Health, Rosny Park
Recognising a lack of exercise-based support for those suffering from obesity and chronic health issues, Jessica Webb set about providing clients a friendly and supportive exercise experience to improve their quality of life. Starting as a sole trader, she has grown her turnover four-fold and taken on two exercise physiologists, a pilates instructor and four receptionists.
Telstra Awards Judges said Ms Webb has taken bold and calculated risks to grow the business and demonstrated remarkable business sense and strategic planning for one so young and relatively inexperienced in the commercial world.
Micro Business Award – Handbuilt Creative, Richmond
After being made redundant, David Shering launched his own full-service creative agency in 2009. Handbuilt
Creative specialises in web development, design, brand management and integrated marketing and aims to
change the perception of a regional micro-business by working with global and national organisations. It
scooped top honours at the Australia and New Zealand Internet Awards and has won an international Webby
Honoree Award. Telstra Judges applauded the business’ innovative, new age software and Mr Shering’s
passion and advocacy for exposing Tasmanian micro business worldwide.
Small Business Award – Lark Distillery, Hobart
Medium Business Award – Stornoway, Launceston
Stornoway’s history goes back to 1976 when Alan Gardner established a quarrying business following a downturn in the dairy industry. Today, the business is owned and managed by Alan’s son, Tim, and operates nationally; developing, managing and maintaining civil assets.
It’s the sole supplier of long-term road network maintenance services to the Tasmanian Government and has water operations contracts with the Australian Defence Force and Fortescue Metals Group. Awards Judges said the business has worked hard to grow in a competitive, commodity-priced environment – a success story for which Tasmania should be proud.
Regional Award – Stornoway, Launceston
Winners of the Telstra Tasmanian Business Awards progress to the Telstra Australian Business Awards which will be announced in Melbourne on 7 August.