WE DID IT: Nathan Benn (centre) celebrates with his staff after Benny's Smash Repairs was named Business of the Year at  2016 Clarence Valley Business Awards.
WE DID IT: Nathan Benn (centre) celebrates with his staff after Benny's Smash Repairs was named Business of the Year at 2016 Clarence Valley Business Awards. Adam Hourigan

Benny's smash hit success

ONE hundred and thirty-six solar panels on the roof of Benny's Grafton Smash Repairs reveal a lot about the business run by Nathan Benn.

In slightly over two years since he took the helm from his father Graham, he has set it on a course of modernisation that was recognised on Saturday with the Business of the Year award at The Daily Examiner Clarence Valley Business Excellence Awards.

"It means that all the hard work and the journey is paying off," Mr Benn said.

"What we are trying to do is be as carbon-neutral as possible.

"We've got solar, LED lighting, and the efficiencies through work mean we are refining everything to a point where we are not wasting."

As well as the major prize, Benny's also claimed the Trade Industry and Manufacturing Award, which was among more than 20 awards handed out at the ceremony at South Grafton Ex-Servicemen's Club.

The awards night stopover on that journey almost didn't happen.

The team at Benny's was so focused on earning Green Stamp recognition from the Motor Traders Association, they initially thought entering the local awards would add too much to their workload.

"We thought we'd do it every two years, but we didn't realise how much we had done in 12 months," Mr Benn said.

The People's Choice section of the awards attracted more than 13,000 votes and the Favourite Business award was won by Nurture One Arthur Street Children's Centre, while the Favourite Employee was Vicki Lawson from the North Grafton General Store.

Farmer Lou's, the winner of the Favourite Business award in the past three years, was inducted into the awards' Hall of Fame.

Clarence Valley Council Mayor Richie Williamson hosted the awards and was excited by the range of businesses involved.

"One of the things that is really noticeable is the young age of many of the winners," he said. "There is some real innovation in the Clarence Valley."

Check out the 48-page 10th Anniversary feature of Clarence Valley Business Excellence Awards including profiles on all of the winning businesses in today's The Daily Examiner.

WINNERS

Clarence Valley Business of the Year: Benny's Grafton Smash Repairs

People's Choice Favourite Business: Nurture One Arthur Street Children's Centre

People's Choice Favourite Employee: Vicki Lawson

Better Access Award: Mareeba Aged Care

Community and Not for Profit: Clarence Family Daycare

Food and Beverage: Irons and Craig

Hair and Beauty: Addictive Hair and Beauty

Health, Fitness and Wellbeing: Fluid Physio + Gym

Innovation and Technology: Family Dental Yamba

New Business 1st Year of Operation: Flowers By Bonnie

New Business 2nd Year of Operation: Refresh Rejuvenate

Professional Services 6 or More Employees: Mareeba Aged Care

Professional Services Up to 5 Employees: Family Dental Yamba

Retail 6 or More Employees: Grafton Motor Group

Retail Up to 5 Employees: Bridgestone Select

Tourism, Accommodation, Events and Entertainment: Northland Coach and Travel

Trade, Industry and Manufacturing: Benny's Grafton Smash Repairs

Trainee or Apprentice of the Year: Ruth Finlay

Work Health and Safety Award: Fresh Dental Care

Hall of Fame: Farmer Lou's, Caringa Enterprises, Mareeba Aged Care, Spar Maclean, Complete Staff Solutions, Clarence River Seafoods



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