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Against the odds: export success stories

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We are getting into the export awards season and, while the dollar and few other international disturbances are knocking us around, it’s good to be able to focus on the positive and reward those people who in the face of adversity have broken through and beaten the odds. Our recently announced Australian Export Heroes are certainly good examples of people who have taken that challenge and won. On 2 June at Government House in Brisbane the Governor of Queensland Her Excellency Ms Penelope Wensley AC will present Australian Export Heroes Awards to six fine Australians who have worked hard over many years to build their export businesses and "do Australia proud". Tasmanian John Muir is an excellent example. John runs Muir Winches, a family business, out of Kingston in Tasmania. Not only does he produce what can only be described as beautifully engineered and manufactured winches for yachts, including the world’s best, he blends this with what his colleagues describe as "relentless perseverance" and "never taking no for an answer". Steve Birbeck from WA is another example of somebody who simply never gives up. Steve kicked off his foray into international trade in 1991 when he had the courage to launch the world’s first range of emu oil based products into France. From these small beginnings he built his company, Mount Romance, into a strong exporter of finished cosmetics and a major provider of sandalwood to the world. In the early 1960s, Jack Hines, well known to Victorians and South Australians alike, joined the family business and got his introduction to trade by becoming the first Australian company to export waste paper for recycling. Not content to stay with waste paper Jack steered his company to become a significant international trader of beef, which became the springboard for diversification into wine and a large range of different food products. Today, his business services clients from Eastern Europe to China and beyond. Based in Queensland, John Russell is managing director of Russell Mining Equipment. In his nomination he is described as possessing two extremely valuable business talents: "he’s technically savvy and highly entrepreneurial". John’s vision when he started his business was to halve the time it takes to reline grinding mills, while simultaneously improving safety in what was an extremely dangerous manual task. That vision was met and Russell Mining Equipment has become a major provider to the mining industry across the world. While in a very different field, Rob Douglas, CEO of Resmed too possesses those unique characteristics of being both technically clever and commercially savvy. A computer scientist and electrical engineer, his skills across a broad range of disciplines have been described as giving "Resmed a huge advantage in international marketing". The result of course is a well known success story for Australia and a success story in which he has played a pivotal role. Our final hero or heroes need little introduction: The Wiggles are a household name here, in the US and in many other parts of the world. The Wiggles self-titled first album was released in 1991 and 19 years later and 39 videos/DVD’s releases later, they have been awarded with 17 gold, 12 platinum and 10 multi-platinum awards for sales of 23 million DVDs and 17 million CDs worldwide. But selling DVDs and CDs are not The Wiggles’ only interest. In 2008 they were named UNICEF Goodwill Ambassadors, focusing on numeracy, literacy and the provision of clean water to children. These very special people not only demonstrate an ability to take on challenges and win against the odds and the best the world can offer, they show us and the world that Australia is much, much more than wheat, wool and minerals. Technically smart, creative and hard working and able to show the world that Australian’s can not only do anything but can do it as well and often better than anybody else. We congratulate our new Australian Export Heroes. You may wish to follow us on Twitter using the handle @aussieexport

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