Everyone agrees that we have a significant backlog in transport infrastructure especially around our ports and airports.
I think both sides of politics and both levels of government are making a serious effort to look at what are the priorities.
Look at Sydney. At the moment there is the South West Rail Line being built; it was started by the previous (Labor) Government. There is the North West Rail Line about to start which was promised by this State (Liberal) Government.
We came out with a report a month or so ago which prioritises the completion of about half of the motorway network in Sydney.
We prioritised what we call West Connects which is the old M4, M5 and links around the airport and Port Botany, out towards Moorebank.
There is another road we are hoping will be built by the private sector along Pennant Hills Road -- the F3/M2 missing link.
The truth is you need more heavy rail in Sydney. You can argue about exactly where it’s happening but in the next 10 years there is going to be a new North West Rail Line.
There is going to be a South West Rail Line and I believe that the M4/M5, West Connects and F3/M2 missing link will be built.
It’s fair to say the new roads will be toll roads because the only way governments can enable it to happen is for motorists to pay.
Politicians are scared of asking people to pay but if you want more infrastructure and you want it soon, someone has to pay for it.
Importing and Distribution WK Marble & Granite
The Award for Importing & Distribution this year goes to a ‘true entrepreneur’ whose story began in Sydney’s southwest.
Bill El Cheikh was born in Jbeil (Byblos) and arrived in Australia with his family in 1977, aged just 8 years old.
On finishing school he joined the family’s joinery business. Wanting to understand the stone market, he then travelled around Europe.
It was in the late 80’s that engineered stone entered the market. He saw the potential and secured the distribution rights in Australia.
The company has become a national wholesaler with warehouses and distributors in Sydney, Melbourne, Gold Coast, New Zealand, China and Middle East.
The company now supplies material for over 50,000 Australian kitchens each year and employs over 200 people.
Our award recipient also sponsors about 4000 orphans wordwide and involved in building health and education facilities in those countries.
Manufacturing and Logistics - TMA Group
Anthony Karam established his business in 1996 in Lidcombe, NSW, with one staff and an annual revenue of $120,000.
In 1999 they relocated to Wetherill Park, NSW, to manufacture venue tickets, airline boarding passes and baggage tags.
By 2000, they had a revenue of $2.5 million, employed eight staff and its first major cornerstone customer.
In 2004 the company’s head office moved to its current Granville location, acquired Label Press and opened in New Zealand.
Today they employ 500 staff with operations, manufacturing and logistics facilities in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth, New Zealand, Philippines, China, Hong Kong and Thailand with annual revenue of $77 million.
Sandstone and Quarry - Sarkis Bros
This award goes to a family business which began in Lebanon over 40 years ago by a man supporting a “small” sized family with 10 children.
Out of the 10, five sons developed a passion for natural stone and developed opportunities in Australia.
Today their passion has passed onto a third generation who plan to expand their quarries and export more natural stone.
Eddy Saidi (Elephants Foot)
His parents migrated here in 1961 and opened a supermarket at Sutherland. After his mother’s death (when he was 9), he went to Lebanon but returned in 1986. He started as a forklift driver for Visy Recycling and was operations manager for 12 years when recruited by Elephants Foot owner Harvey Michaels. They worked together for 10 years before buying a Mascot-based compactor & bailer manufacturing company. In 2010, it moved to Padstow and its product line expanded to chutes, diverter systems and recycling and waste disposal compactors. There are now branches in NSW, Victoria and Queensland. Staff numbers went from 12 to 32 with a network of contractors. They now supply recycling technology to companies in Germany, Austria and Ireland.
LtoR: Anwar Harb, Ahlam Harb, Joe Khattar and Nick Greiner
LtoR: Michael Rizk, Nick Greiner, Joe Rizk and Elie Sawma
A group of ladies of including Shaida Khattar, Ahlam Harb and Maureen Rizk
Sam Fayad with some Asian businessmen
Ray Fayad and his wife in front of the car that was for lottery
Geoff Wild, Lex Taylor and their wives