We have partnered with the Newcastle Herald to bring this project to the community hoping it will have benefits to other businesses, students and future leaders.
OOTS is openly passionate about our region and we thought this was just another way to show how much as a region we have to be proud of. Whether the inspiration be big or small, we hope you get something out of this series.
With $800 in his pocket and a bunch of ideas his former boss thought were a little too ‘out of the square’, Marty Adnum started Out of the Square Media (or ‘OOTS’ as it is affectionately known) in 1997.
More than 20 years later, OOTS has evolved from its genesis as a traditional advertising agency into a true ideas agency, with a staff of 24 highly skilled individuals applying their creative talents collaboratively to deliver inspired solutions for their clients.
Marty loves his team’s creative energy, and fosters a fun, warm, open and supportive work environment to nurture their abilities.
And while OOTS now service clients all around the country, Marty is still an incredibly proud Novocastrian, constantly developing and supporting ‘passion projects’ that promote and celebrate this incredible place we are lucky enough to call home.
The backdrop of ships moving in and out of our working harbour is part of everyday life in Newcastle. It’s a key part of our identity, a focal point of our city. The Port has a great history, a great team running it, and an exciting future.
The Port of Newcastle started operating way back in 1799, with its first commercial coal shipment. Over the past two centuries, the increasing demand for coal globally has seen the port expand to become one of the busiest ports in the world.
The local team that runs the operations looks after all the facilities, the 792 hectares of portside land and the scheduling of over 4,500 shipping movements each year.
And while coal is still the mainstay of operations, the port is capitalising on opportunities to diversify further, by expanding its throughput of bulk produce, container shipments and cruise ship visitation.
In 1991, with traditional industries like ship building and steelmaking in decline, a few local business people saw the need for companies to diversify if they were going to survive in the region. So they formed a co-operative around the one idea – ‘the power of many.’
From the 14 original member companies that formed the original not for profit co-operative, the organisation has now grown to involve more than 200 companies across the Hunter and Central Coast region. Their focus is on the energy and resources, defence, infrastructure development and asset management sectors.
As well as helping businesses in the region, HunterNet is also very involved in the training and education of the next generation of leaders, and supports around 140 apprenticeships.
From humble beginnings, HunterNet now operates internationally with business groups in China, Vietnam, Malaysia, New Zealand and Europe, creating global alliances and opportunities for businesses in our region.
Originally formed in Melbourne by a group of world-leading breast cancer researchers, Breast Cancer Trials moved to Newcastle in 1987 when one of the founders, Professor John Forbes, took up the inaugural Chair of Surgical Oncology at the University of Newcastle. And he brought the group with him.
Today, Breast Cancer Trials is one of the largest independent clinical trials organisations in Australia, and one of the most respected breast cancer clinical research groups in the world. From their research centre here in Newcastle, they conduct clinical trials around Australia and New Zealand.
Over the past 20 years, the work of Breast Cancer Trials contributed significantly to the 30% improvement in survival for people with breast cancer. And they look forward to the day when their work may even find a cure for this disease that affects so many women around the world.
In 1998 a group of visionary thinkers got together to form an organisation whose aim was to improve the health and wellbeing of the local community.
Today, Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI) has grown from an initial 150 people to over 1600 research and support staff involved in breakthrough research and clinical trials from their purpose-built facility in Newcastle.
Partnering with the University of Newcastle and Hunter New England Local Health District, HMRI now attracts top researchers from around the globe who come here not just for the opportunity to work on ground-breaking medical projects, but to also enjoy the enviable lifestyle on offer in our dynamic region.
Ethos Health started as two separate businesses in 1998, but a few years later combined to form the current business that takes a holistic approach towards health, safety and human performance.
Ethos offer services to a wide range of clients, from individuals to large workplaces. And they are always prepared to take on new challenges. During the mining boom for instance, they scaled rapidly to a staff of around 65 people in order to service the needs of the rapidly expanding workforce in the mining sector.
CEO Trent Watson is looking forward to a bright future for Ethos and for Newcastle. He believes a business needs to ‘Establish a clear message and purpose of what you are out to achieve.’ For Ethos Health, it’s all about improving the health, safety and performance of people and organisations.
In the 1920s, due to the economic depression, home ownership was out of reach for many people in Newcastle. So a building society was formed to help members into homes with interest free loans. It was the original sharing economy.
In 1945, that building society evolved into the Greater.
Today at Greater Bank, that original philosophy of helping people own their own homes at the lowest possible cost is still as strong as ever. As a customer-owned bank, they put their profits back into providing better value and better products for their customers.
This customer focus has seen them named Bank of the Year for the past two years running – ahead of all the major banks. It’s validation of their core purpose – to always keep their customers’ best interests at the centre of everything they do.
Newcastle Airport started operating commercially in 1948, as a stop-over on the Sydney to Brisbane route. At the time it was referred to as ‘The Tin Shed’.
Things have changed a little bit since then. Air travel is now a part of everyday life, Sydney to Brisbane is one of the busiest routes in the world, and Newcastle Airport has expanded dramatically, offering international check-in, handling record traveller numbers and is looking toward offering overseas flights to its customers as well.
The Airport plays an important role in the local economy by increasing visitor numbers to the region, building our business and tourism sectors, and giving locals the opportunity to take their business offerings further afield.
Today, Newcastle Airport is able to connect local travellers to just about anywhere in the world. By making Newcastle Airport the departure point for any destination, it is delivering on its promise to become the Airport the region truly needs and deserves.
When Purser Corporate Communications was started by Bob Purser in 1983, it’s focus was on servicing the needs of the large corporations that dominated the local economy at the time.
Post BHP, the business landscape changed dramatically, with many small start-ups driving a ‘renaissance’ of the Newcastle business scene. And the team at Purser were there to help them achieve success.
Today, with her team of 8 talented specialists, Meg Purser continues the family tradition of helping large and small businesses with all their public affairs and strategic communications needs, both here in the Hunter and right around the country.
Montgomery Homes started in a tiny home office in 1989. They quickly established a reputation as sloping block specialists, and it was this niche that helped them expand rapidly from their Newcastle base into the Hunter, Central Coast and Sydney markets.
Partly driven by the popularity of renovation TV shows, customers’ expectations have changed a lot over the years, and Montgomery’s designs have changed with them. Today this family-owned and operated business designs homes that suit most blocks of land, from flat to sloping. They also have display homes and a showroom where customers can see exactly what they are getting in their new home.
They believe long-term business success is more a marathon than a sprint, and by constantly evolving to suit their customers’ needs, they aim to maintain their position at the head of the pack.
When Jean Bas opened her clothing design business in 1981, she had ‘one little seamstress’, a domestic sewing machine and a ping-pong table to cut out her designs on.
Today, Jean Bas is an iconic figure in the local fashion and design industry.
Through the years she has designed clothing for some of the region’s largest and most loved organisations including The Marching Koalas, NIB Health Funds and many local councils. And her designs have graced the windows of David Jones department stores.
Now she is transforming her business again. Energised by fresh ideas from young collaborators, Jean is stepping outside her comfort zone and taking on new challenges to ensure she stays at the top of her game, and continues to maintain her high standards and offer her wonderful designs to the customers she loves.
Baker Love Lawyers was founded by William Henry Baker back in 1875, and is the longest-established law firm in Newcastle. Today the firm employs more than a dozen lawyers offering their clients a wide range of legal services.
To partners Dean Frith and Terry Morgan, staff are the most important asset in any business, and they are very proud and supportive of the breadth of talent within their firm. And while it is a very old firm, they are always on the lookout for young lawyers to bring fresh ideas and energy to the company.
As a firm that believes the business is as much about serving customers as it is about interpreting the law, they are well prepared to take on the challenges of tomorrow.
Paul Burchell believes perseverance is the key to long-term success in business – and it helps to be ‘a little bit crazy’. It was Paul’s ‘crazy idea’ to invent a new method of dry cleaning carpets that launched Electrodry in 1983.
Starting with one dry cleaning machine in the back of his old Volvo, Electrodry now has around 180 trucks on the road cleaning around 3,000 homes every week. And with a strong customer-focus, the business is still growing. As Paul says, ‘Provided you look after your customers, your customers will look after you.’
Scratchley’s Restaurant established itself in its iconic harbour-front location back in 1989 when the old Stockton ferry terminal became vacant. Owners Donna and Neil Slater reclaimed the building and created a venue that has become a mainstay of the Newcastle dining scene.
Serving delicious fresh seafood alongside some of the best views in Newcastle, Scratchley’s has continued to evolve, updating to a modern, environmentally-friendly building in 1999, and undergoing further redevelopment in 2016 to open their latest addition to the site – Battlesticks Bar.
Neil believes it is consistency – in quality, staff and service that has contributed to the longevity of the business. And the amazing food and views might have helped a bit as well.
From its humble beginnings in a garage in Kotara in 1967, EJE has grown into one of the leading architecture firms in the region, employing 75 highly-skilled staff across offices in Newcastle, Sydney and Gold Coast.
EJE has seen a lot of change in its 50 years – from a conservative, heritage attitude towards architecture in the sixties and seventies, to a far more contemporary, innovative and creative approach to design today.
It is continually evolving, so keeping up with technology, supporting and investing in their staff, and fostering a culture of collaboration, both within the firm and with their clients ensures EJE stays ahead of the curve and keeps contributing to the strong and vibrant future of our city.
Sharp Electronics Group is a real Hunter success story.
Started over drinks at a local club and run on the smell of an oily rag in the early days, Sharp Electronics Group has been doing business for over 45 years, and now employs more than 60 people servicing clients throughout Newcastle, the Hunter Valley, Central Coast and further afield.
Initially selling business calculators, the group expanded to supply an ever-increasing range of electronic business equipment and software to their growing client base, and provides a complete end-to-end solution for businesses – servicing what they sell all under the one roof at their Broadmeadow office.
Along with hard work, honesty and integrity, looking after their staff has played a major part in their success, and underpins their commitment to their TEAM – Together Everybody Achieves More.
Musos Corner opened its doors in 1967 – the same year The Beatles released Sgt. Peppers. Rock n’ roll was revolutionizing the music industry, and Musos (then known as Foley’s Pianos) was right at the forefront of this momentous cultural change, and the go-to place for budding musicians on the local scene.
Today, Musos Corner is one of the most well-known businesses in Newcastle. From its local beginnings, it has grown to serve customers all around the country through its online store, and deals with some of the biggest music organisations around the world on a regular basis.
But for all its growth, Musos Corner has never forgotten the local musicians that have played a big part in its success story. Bringing the best equipment, service and advice to the incredibly talented Newcastle music community is still a major driver and focus of this proudly independent local business.
Since opening in 1985, Suki Hairdressing has become iconic in the Newcastle business scene. Owner, Sandy Chong has built a robust business renowned for its quality, luxury and exceptional service.
Listening to staff and training them on site is a big part Suki’s culture according to Sandy. Looking after the well-being of her ‘Sukettes,’ as she calls them, engenders a high level of job satisfaction and loyalty. And with many of her original clients still coming back for more than 3 decades later, it’s obviously a winning formula.
Sandy believes the key to long-term success in business is resilience and flexibility. And, of course, providing a customer experience that is always a cut above the rest.
More than 70 years ago, two brothers opened Atkins Nursery in Cooks Hill, and in 1982, the Sharpes took over the business and have been running it ever since.
Operating for many years in Merewether, Sharpe’s is now back in Cooks Hill where Managing Director, Scott Sharpe continues the family tradition from their Darby Street location.
The Sharpes have seen a lot of changes in customers’ needs over the years. Changing lifestyles, shrinking gardens and smaller residential blocks have raised some challenges for the nursery. But Scott is still excited about his business. They’ve had clients that have been with them for 35 years or more. Customers still love the high level of service they receive from this family-run business. So the future certainly is looking rosy.
‘The harder you work, the luckier you get’ is the advice Mick Brown’s dad gave him when he and his wife, Gloria started B & B Total Supply back in 1984. It is a philosophy that has served them well.
More than 30 years later, the company has grown from a backyard operation in Blackalls Park into a thriving family business that employs 30 staff and supplies customers in the hospitality industry nationwide from their local warehouse.
With their recipe of hard work, attention to detail and great relationships, they have become a staple ingredient in restaurants and hotels around the country.