Seniors lifestyle and aged-care provider IRT was the big winner at last night's 2012 Illawarra Business Awards.
IRT won the title of business of the year, chief executive Nieves Murray was named Illawarra business leader of the year and the not-for-profit organisation took out the excellence in community services and workplace health and safety categories.
The business of the year was determined by a secret ballot but the business leader award was judged by Neill Paxton and Vicki Grossmann, who were looking for someone who demonstrated strong leadership, innovation and a passion for their industry.
Mr Paxton said Ms Murray was one of many great business leaders in the region who also gave much of their time to the community and charity.
Ms Murray has been a driving force behind Wollongong's first Vinnie's CEO Sleepout, which raised over $83,500 for the homeless.
She is also a volunteer telephone counsellor for Lifeline and has never sought publicity for it.
Last night's success followed IRT being named winner of three Australian Business Awards in the enterprise, environmental sustainability and recommended employer categories.
The national awards recognised its commercial success in ventures such as a new research foundation and expansion of the IRT College as well as financial sustainability, innovation, leadership training and providing a stimulating and supportive workplace.
The organisation provides living solutions to more than 6000 seniors, employs more than 2000 staff and has increased the size of its workforce by over 100 people this year.
Ms Murray was recently named a finalist in the 2012 Telstra Businesswoman of the Year Awards after being reluctantly persuaded to accept a nomination by other business leaders who told her it would be good for Wollongong if she won.
She recently announced plans to build a new corporate headquarters in Bank Street, Wollongong, and revealed IRT was moving into Queensland and expanding its catering arm by 50 per cent, creating up to 20 new jobs at Unanderra, making it one of the largest operations of its kind in Australia.
In August IRT revealed it would start construction on a $25 million 100-bed aged-care and dementia centre in Tarrawanna early next year, creating more than 100 construction jobs and 130 positions on completion.
BEST IN BUSINESS
Origin Illawarra Business Award winners:
Business of the Year – IRT.
Business Leader of the Year – Nieves Murray.
Young Business Leader of the Year – Peter Buckley from Thomas & Coffey.
Excellence in Building and Construction – G J Gardner Homes Illawarra.
Excellence in Community Services – IRT.
Exceptional Customer Service – Pillar Administration.
Outstanding eBusiness – Activated Group.
Excellence in Environmental Sustainability – Silos Estate.
Excellence in Export – Rambor.
Excellence in Information, Communication and Technology – Fibre Optics Design and Construct.
Excellence in Innovation – Featherweight and Fibre Optics Design and Construct.
Excellence in Manufacturing and Resources – Rambor.
Outstanding New Illawarra Business – Anytime Fitness.
Excellence in Professional and Commercial Services – RMB Lawyers.
Excellence in Property and Financial Services – Dignam Real Estate.
Excellence Retail and Personal Services – McKeon’s Swim School.
Outstanding Small Business – Hangdog Climbing Gym.
Excellence in Tourism and Hospitality – Silos Estate.
Excellence in Workplace Health and Safety – IRT.
Excellence in Workplace Learning and Development – The Flagstaff Group.