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Lake Mac businesses shine at annual awards


An innovative company making global waves with hardware integration and software development was named Lake Mac’s business of the year.

Warners Bay-based SAPHI took out the top gong at Friday night’s Lake Mac Business Excellence Awards, recognising growth and entrepreneurship and celebrating corporate success across the city.

The company was one of 13 winners announced at the Belmont 16s.

SAPHI software engineer Abigail Hall admitted it was an honour to be recognised.

“It’s a real testimony to all the hard work the team has put in,” she said.

“We do countless hours, countless days with different clients to bring innovation into the Lake Macquarie area, and this is wonderful recognition of that.”

Lake Macquarie City mayor Kay Fraser, who sat on the judging panel, said almost 100 companies and individual workers entered this year’s awards.

“The finalists we selected really demonstrated the diversity and strength of business in Lake Macquarie,” she stated.

“We had everything from air-conditioning installers to occupational therapists, and child-care centres to coffee cruisers.”

Cr Fraser said SAPHI, which also took out the Excellence in Sustainability category, stood out for its innovation, commitment to circular economy practices and its rapid growth.

Since it was founded just five years ago, the company has grown to take on major clients in Australia and overseas and has played a key part in Australia’s largest smart green infrastructure project in Sydney Olympic Park.

“I think we were all particularly impressed with how they’ve been able to grow their business during COVID, working hard to attract very significant clients and build community support,” Cr Fraser said.

It was a triple win for the company, with founding partner and director Cameron Owen also securing the Outstanding Young Business Leader category.

Dance4Wellbeing, offering dance sessions for over-55s and people with disability, won the Excellence in Diversity and Inclusion crown, while neighbourhood centre Swansea Community Cottage was named the city’s most outstanding community organisation for 2022.

It was a case of lightning striking twice for private speech pathology company A Growing Understanding, which first won a Lake Mac Business Excellence Award in 2018.

Back then, the firm had only three employees, and was recognised in the Start Up Superstar section.

Friday night’s ceremony saw the company return to the podium, this time in the Excellence in Large Business category after growing to employ more than 40 people and opening a new clinic to meet burgeoning demand.

Lake Macquarie City Council CEO Morven Cameron congratulated all entrants, finalists and winners, and the city’s business community more broadly.

“We’re home to more than 13,000 active businesses, and many have had to overcome some monumental challenges over the past two years,” she added.

“But, despite those challenges, we are in the midst of a generational change.

“We’re emerging as a true regional powerhouse, and a very real alternative to major metropolitan areas when it comes to business and commercial investment.”

Winners from 11 of the evening’s award categories will now vie for victory at the upcoming Hunter Business Awards.


  • Business of the Year: SAPHI
  • Outstanding Employee: Jordan Farrelly, A Growing Understanding
  • Outstanding Young Business Leader (18-35 years): Cameron Owen, SAPHI
  • Outstanding Business Leader (36 years and over): Michelle Kent, Kent Conveyancing
  • Excellence in Tourism and Hospitality: Mischief Kitchen
  • Employer of Choice: Lake Group Strata
  • Excellence in Innovation: The Blue Tribe Company
  • Excellence in Sustainability: SAPHI
  • Outstanding Community Organisation: Swansea Community Cottage Inc
  • Outstanding Start-Up: Jaegersoft
  • Excellence in Diversity and Inclusion: Dance4wellbeing
  • Excellence in Micro Business: Adventures in Speech Pathology
  • Excellence in Small Business: Salon Ten
  • Excellence in Large Business: A Growing Understanding

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