Business bulletin: 20 September 2019


Claire Madden
Social demographer Claire Madden will dispel myths about the generational divide to improve workplace cohesion

From a fierce debate about whether millennials reign supreme in the workplace, to tradie talks and tips for success from a renowned restauranteur and a master brewer, the 2019 October Business Month (OBM) calendar is packed with must-do highlights.

Now in its 25th year, OBM is a celebration of the Territory’s enterprising spirit and can-do mindset, and this year’s program will offer pearls of wisdom to benefit any business interest.

OBM aims to provide Territory businesses with advice and insights on leading edge business practices, to help businesses develop new skills and support professional development and networking.

This year there are events being held in Darwin, Nhulunbuy, Katherine, Tennant Creek and Alice Springs.

New innovations for 2019 include an OBM mobile app, the opportunity to select events as webinars and a new booking platform where you can register and pay for all events in one place.

Highlight events for 2019 include:

  • The OBM Great Debate which looks at whether millennials are the best generation in the workforce, featuring teams led by entrepreneur and investor Steve Baxter and social demographer Claire Madden (Darwin, Alice Springs).
  • Celebrated Australian restauranteur Pauline Nguyen, whose Red Lantern restaurant is the most awarded Vietnamese restaurant in the world, talks about hard work, inspiration and navigating through change (Darwin).
  • Fifth generation brewer Glenn Cooper of Coopers Brewery talks about the Coopers success story and how he took a limited advertising budget and competed with brewery giants to come out on top (Katherine).
  • Sales expert David Staughton helps business owners and managers to energise their staff, find more customers and increase their profits all year round (Darwin, Nhulunbuy, Alice Springs).

NAB Business Moments will deliver sessions from a range of business people on how to not just survive in business, but to thrive, while TIO Tradie Talks offer tradespeople opportunities to learn more about important topics including tendering, digital marketing and bookkeeping basics.

There is also the opportunity to glean sage advice on business from Territory success stories, with entertaining addresses by:

  • Tom Curtain from Katherine Outback Experience, hear Tom’s story of combining three of his great loves - dogs, horses and singing - with wife Annabel to entertain masses of tourists from around the world.
  • Elena Madden, Director/Owner of True North Strategic Communications, who completed a successful business rebranding, won a Telstra Business Award and delivered the Best Investor or Community Relations Campaign in the 2019 CommsCon Awards.
  • Liz Campbell, who took a leap of faith with husband and former Australian rugby league and rugby test start AJ Campbell to establish the thriving Everybodies Journey Physio and gym in Nhulunbuy.
  • Jason Elsegood, Director of Cross Cultural Consultants and co-director of the IE Project, a Darwin-based Aboriginal employment company providing opportunities to Aboriginal Australians.
  • Michael Quach, a former refugee who has become the biggest hydroponic farmer in the Territory with 16 acres of shaded cropping producing cucumbers.

To book or find out more, go to the October Business Month website.

Steve Baxter
Steve Baxter will talk about the importance of teamwork in the workplace during OBM

Some call them the most compassionate and tolerant generation in history.

Others dismiss them as narcissists with an irritating sense of entitlement.

Meet the millennials, that amorphous group of people born sometime between the early 1980s and the late 1990s.

Two of Australia’s best-known public speakers - social researcher and demographer Claire Madden and Shark Tank investor, mentor and self-made man Steve Baxter - will slug it out in the Great Debate, one of the highlights of October Business Month.

The motion will be: millennials are the best generation in the workplace.

Claire will speak in favour and Steve against.

“The thing about millennials is that they are perfectly positioned between Gen X, the people brought up in a paper‑based world, and Gen Z, those in a digital world,” Claire says.

“They’re critical in the workplace because they can bridge that gap from digital migrants to digital natives.

“Yes, they have challenged the way work should be done and traditional working hours, by asking for flexi‑time, but we will miss business opportunities if we don’t move with the millennials.”

Steve says he is not totally against the millennials   but finds their political correctness and lack of teamwork annoying.

“I’ve got no time for tardiness,” says the former soldier. “I learnt the importance of teamwork in the defence force.”

As a social researcher, Claire is widely regarded as a leading voice on multi-generational engagement and emerging social trends by corporations, the media and the wider community.

As a demographer, she is commissioned by some of Australia’s largest companies and leading brands to interpret the changing landscape and communicate the implications for business and society.

Steve is one of Australia's most successful tech entrepreneurs, an active investor and a mentor to startups.

How does he pick a winner?

“I don’t do it on my own,” he says. “I have a team. We go for products and services that have proved their worth, that have been tested to a certain extent in the market.”

He understands the tyranny of distance that makes it hard to make a quid in the Territory - he was born in the remote Queensland town of Cloncurry and was raised in the even more remote township of Emerald.

He left school at 15 and joined the Army, enlisting in its apprenticeship program. There, he became a technician working in the field of electronics, telecoms and guided weapon systems.

In 2001, he teamed with an old schoolmate to launch a second start-up, PIPE Networks and eight years later sold it to the TPG Group for $373 million.

The Great Debate, which will be moderated by business author and TEDx presenter Bernadette Schwerdt, will take place at the Darwin Entertainment Centre at 5.30pm to 8pm on Thursday 3 October. Cost: $20.

To book go to the October Business Month website.

Glenn Cooper
Glenn Cooper will talk family business and competing against the big players at OBM

Glenn Cooper is looking forward to telling a story he knows Territorians will love to hear: a David and Goliath battle spanning three centuries.

He is one of the keynote speakers at October Business Month, the business event of the year in the Northern Territory.

Glenn was marketing and sales executive of Coopers Brewery from 1990 until his retirement in 2014.

He was behind the launch of many beers, including Dark Ale, Extra Strong Vintage Ale, Mild Ale, Premium Lager and Coopers Clear.

Coopers, which was founded in 1862, is now the only major Australian‑owned brewery - all the others have systematically been taken over by foreign interests.

The company spent millions of dollars on fighting off a hostile takeover bid by the giant Japanese brewer Kirin in 2005.

Glenn will tell his Territory audience the dramatic story of how Coopers has remained a family-run business for 157 years.

“It’s a true David and Goliath tale,” he says. “I’ll talk about how small businesses can survive against big corporations by playing to their advantages.

The speech is likely to be laced with humour - he likes to start his story by saying that the founder of Coopers, his great, great grandfather, Thomas Cooper, had two wives and 19 children.

“And he made family succession planning difficult right from the start.”

A sixth generation of the Cooper family is now working at the brewery in Adelaide.

Territorians should not expect any airs and graces from Glenn.

He started his working life as an automation electrician and later studied electronic engineering and marketing.

Glenn set up a computer sales contract services business and it grew to be a substantial company with offices in Adelaide and Brisbane.

In 2007, he followed in the footsteps of his uncle, Colonel Geoff Cooper, and walked the Kokoda Trail in Papua New Guinea.

Glenn will speak at the OBM Business Dinner at the Godinymayin Arts Centre in Katherine on Saturday 12 October. Cost: $100.

To book go to the October Business Month website.

Mickey Wunungmurra
Bukmak Constructions Chairperson Mickey Wunungmurra

Traditional Owner Mickey Wunungmurra wants to go back to the future.

His vision is for Yolngu people in Arnhem Land to once again be responsible for building and maintaining homes and other properties in their own communities.

Mr Wunungmurra is chairperson of Aboriginal-owned Bukmak Constructions, a subsidiary of the 100% Arnhem Land Progress Aboriginal Corporation (ALPA).

He says Yolngu carried out much of the work on communities in the 1950s and 1960s.

“We had plumbers, electricians, carpenters, builders – the lot,” he says. “Now very few people are employed.”

Mr Wunungmurra says the elevated houses his ‘forefathers’ built on Galiwin’ku were so we well-constructed that they have survived direct hits by three cyclones.

“Other houses were badly damaged but not those places.”

He believes Bukmak, which means ‘everybody’, can play a part in once again putting Aboriginal people fully in charge of their own communities.

“We want governments to realise that we’ve got the expertise to do the job. We need this for the future of our people.”

Bukmak is in talks with the Northern Territory Housing department about winning more contracts.

Up to 80% of workers on projects have been Yolngu - and the company wants to ensure the ratio of workers stays in favour of Aboriginal people.

Mr Wunungmurra, who is also deputy chair of ALPA, says people are proud to see Yolgnu fixing and building houses in Arnhem Land.

NAB, a platinum sponsor of October Business Month, will champion Bukmak Constructions at OBM.

Bukmak will also feature prominently in NAB’s Reconciliation Action Plan.

Mr Wunungmurra says the long-standing partnership with NAB is important for the corporation, and that subsidiaries such as Bukmak benefit from NAB’s day‑to‑day banking support and corporate finance solutions.

Bukmak’s services include building and construction, labour hire, repairs, maintenance, and concreting.

ALPA is a not‑for‑profit corporation that started by taking over community stores and now runs a string of commercial companies.

It is proudly 100% Aboriginal owned.

NAB is providing first class advice on all aspects of business from starting out to securing the future as part of October Business Month. NAB Business Moments is a program of events that includes advice from a wide range of businesspeople on how to thrive, not just survive. Sessions include Agribusiness days in Darwin, Katherine and Alice Springs from 9 to 11 October, The Power of Brand in Building Small Business in Darwin on 16 October, a Micro Business workshop in Nhulunbuy on 23 October and Indigenous Businesses and Start-Ups in Alice Springs on 29 October.

For more information and to book, go to the October Business Month website.

Fuel Drop employee refilling a fuel tank
Jake Eggleton’s unique fuel tank filling business is flourishing

One of the Northern Territory’s most unusual businesses is flourishing.

Darwin-based Fuel Drop does what the name promises - it literally fills up other people’s vehicles, plus plant machinery, equipment and boats, with petrol or diesel.

The micro-company has only been going a couple of weeks but has already picked up a few rewarding jobs, including refuelling the giant cherry pickers used to paint murals on city centre walls.

“They were going to buy heaps of jerry cans to do the job,” says Fuel Drop owner Jake Eggleton. “The painters were incredibly happy with our price and efficiency. We were onsite within 30 minutes. I told them we could save them time and money.”

Fuel Drop is pitched at two key markets, corporate and personal - people who struggle to fill their own cars, such as busy mums, parents, the disabled, elderly and, of course, people who just don’t want to fill their own vehicles, and businesses.

“Businesses lose a lot of money in wages and downtime due to paying employees to refuel their fleets,” says Jake.

“Fuel Drop can come in after hours and refuel entire fleets, enabling businesses to always be ready.

“The whole process is website and app based - users can enter all their vehicles, plant and equipment into their account and can then book Fuel Drop, which is available seven days per week.

“It’s surprising how much longer it takes an employee being paid by the hour to refuel a vehicle.”

Jake got the idea for the company from knowing how his wife struggled to get to the service station with their newborn baby and small child.

“Lots of parents play Russian roulette with their fuel gauges - not knowing if they’ve got enough to get home with the kids rather than go to the servo.”

Jakes says many other Territorians, including the elderly and disabled, dislike or are unable to fill up and are happy to pay someone to do it for them.

“Refueling is a monotonous chore - nobody likes it.”

The business market, including company vehicles, plant and car hire firms, may prove to be far more profitable.

Jake even sees potential with police vehicles and ambulances.

“Did you know that paramedics fill up their own ambulances? Surely they’ve got better things to do.”

Fuel Drop has been working with the Northern Territory Government’s Department of Trade, Business and Innovation.

“They’ve been good in providing advice on things such as intellectual property and explaining what grants might be available if I need them.”

Government Small Business Champion Graeme Kevern has given sound advice on how to develop the business.

If you are a Territory business, or an Aboriginal enterprise or a not‑for‑profit, a small business champion can assist you with support, networking, contacts, information, tools and resources.

For more information and to get in touch, go to the Northern Territory Government website.

OBM 2019 Great Debate, book at

Last updated: 24 September 2019

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