We’re not short of inspiring business people here in Brisbane. From property investors and CEO’s to hairdressers and creative types, all of these business people are vastly different, yet they all have one thing in common — the desire to succeed in their field.
Prepare to be inspired as they share with you their stories and tips for succeeding.
Founder & Ceo, Unita
With a reputation for doing things differently, Rob Rowe has certainly forged his own path in the construction industry with his company, Unita.
A national market leader and the largest interior fit-out business in Brisbane, Unita offers a variety of construction services from shopfitting, design and manufacturing.
Founded in 2004, by then 23-year-old Rob, the company has had an incredible trajectory in recent years, not a bad feat for a company that started out with just a red ute and a lot of hard work.
Having previously worked as a builder, becoming increasingly frustrated when he saw many failed businesses, Rob saw an opportunity in the market to create a full-service construction company and help clients build successful businesses.
“Nothing gets me more excited than helping someone explore their potential and possibility,” Rowe says.
“Builders like to take money, I like to help build and add value.”
With a string of awards under his belt, including Brisbane Young Entrepreneur and Telstra Business Awards, Rob is most proud of his resilience when facing tough times.
“None of the awards really matter that much in the grand scheme of things.”
“There’s a lot of tough times you have in business, and what really matters is how you deal with that.”
“We just had our best year in business ever, off the back of some very interesting years. The bad years teach you how to have the good ones. You have to have those knocks sometimes to make you appreciate the good ones,” he says.
“My biggest achievement is still being in business after 14 years.”
Director, Alice + Albert
The term ‘Personal Concierge’ is pretty unfamiliar. Put simply, it’s like having a Personal Assistant for your personal life. Someone to look after anything you don’t have time for, desire or skills to do.
And that’s just what Louisa Dyson and her team at Alice + Albert do.
“In simple terms, we literally take care of whatever is on our client’s to-do list which can be as mundane as the washing and grocery shopping via our weekly Home Butler service to coordinating cleaners, sourcing quotes for a renovation or booking a surprise trip for a loved one, packing your bags and feeding the cats whilst you are away via our Personal Concierge package of hours. The list really is endless. We allow our clients to stress less and live more,” Louisa says.
“Our working days are never the same which is really great and certainly never dull!”
After having been in the corporate world for 10 years Louisa had an opportunity to take a redundancy and felt like that was her final sign that she should start something of her own.
“I’m not one to shy away from a challenge and I knew that this was my chance to have a go and if it didn’t work out, at least I could say I had tried!”
It’s this determination, along with integrity and courtesy that also forms the core mission of Alice + Albert.
“I try to surround myself with people who live their lives like this and I’m very lucky to have some wonderful friends and business colleagues who support and inspire me every day.”
Jonathan Ford & Tom Sweep
Directors, Department Group, Facilities Fitness & Pineapple Express
With over a decade working together, best mates Jonathan Ford and Tom Sweep launched their own business, Department Group, together in 2013, and have grown ever since.
“We’re very lucky to do what we love for a living. We have manufactured our own lifestyle around what we’re passionate about,” Jonathan says.
A full-service creative agency, Department Group work hard to ensure their clients offer genuine value and experiences which make them destinations in their own right.
“With the amount of competition in the market, customers have become more savvy. They don’t want to just see it, now they want to feel something, taste something. It has to be so good that they’re going to share it on social media,” Tom adds.
Driven by results, whether for their clients or for their own businesses, Department Group continues to expand. “Our marketing agency, Department, is currently going through a big shift as we target the property & luxury brand market. We have an exciting expansion plan for Pineapple Express & Facilities. We also have a new project which has been in the works for quite some time which we’re excited to announce soon,” Tom says.
Perhaps the secret to their success is how well they work together.
“Sometimes it just works. We’re a bit of a yin and yang combo,” Jonathan says.
Founder, Ferradini Property Group
With extensive experience in sourcing commercial real estate acquisitions, funds management, research and asset management, Pranay Magan founded Ferradini Property Group in 2015 when he identified a niche market to provide a commercial property funds management service to private clients.
“Commercial property investment for me has always had a long-term outlook combined with a steady income stream, which provides stable financial security. There is a sense of fulfilment when the tenant’s business grows and they meet their benchmarks and business goals,” Pranay says.
With access to market-leading resources and intelligence, Ferradini prides itself on its ability to provide sustainable returns to their investors. The expertise that Pranay has in property gives him the capacity to advise and manage commercial property acquisitions and divestments across all sectors, predominately in Queensland and Victoria.
“Our objective is to deliver a sustainable and growing income stream to our clients. To achieve this, we look for sectors and assets that have potential to deliver real rental growth,” he says.
Ferradini exists to take out the guess work for those looking to invest in commercial real estate. They do all the third-party coordinating with accountants and solicitors and due diligence, right down to presenting final offers.
“My role incorporates being responsible for overseeing the due diligence process, managing and implementing policies and strategies for the investment,” he says.
“I have a very hands-on approach when dealing with the asset management component of the investment. This is important for both the client and tenant to make them feel valued.”
In addition to Ferradini, Pranay founded Casa Asset Management to provide proactive asset management services to his clients, either in conjunction to the acquisition service or as an isolated service. Both these companies work hand-in-hand as the services they provide complement each other.
Managing Director, Fitstop Australia
After running his own group fitness training facilities for two years, Peter Hull fell in love with a few of the business fundamentals that were resulting in success for the business, the trainers that worked for him and also his members.
“My number one reason for building the Fitstop Fitness franchise was to allow other passionate fitness professionals the opportunity to live their dream owning a successful fitness business,” Peter says.
“Learning the importance of creating culture, supporting personal growth and creating a model that was not exchanging time for money I knew that I needed to share this with more people.”
Peter’s motivation stems from working in an industry that is typically very lonely, and his desire to change that for fellow franchise owners.
“After learning there is a way to not only make a positive impact to a larger community, but also build a great team around your business, enjoy holidays and family life that it needed to be shared. The fitness industry needed a shake-up, it was time that fitness professionals had the same level of support that they gave their clients.”
Peter and his team have systemised the entire business in a way that it provides an education platform and process to all Fitstop owners, allowing them the same opportunity he had. With the Fitstop family growing every day, he has big plans for the future.
CEO, Geon Property
The Brisbane property landscape continues to grow and evolve, and at the forefront of that is Ben Griffin of Geon Property.
The much anticipated Albion Train Station redevelopment is one of a number of exciting projects that the in-demand company have in the works, which will see an integration of the train station with residential, retail and commercial spaces to deliver an exciting community asset, in what is an Australian first.
“Brisbane is an exciting place to be developing now and in the next 15 – 20 years,” Griffin says.
“Brisbane City Council has positioned Brisbane as Australia’s new world city. There are many developers like us with a global perspective, pulling inspiration and experiences from around the globe.”
The key to Geon Property’s success, he insists, is the tight and capable team around him.
“You have to show up every day. We try to be in business as we are in life.”
Despite all of his many professional achievements, Ben is most proud of his family.
“Family is everything to me,” he says. “The opportunity for Geon Property to bring the Albion Train Station redevelopment to fruition is just one of my greatest achievements.”
When he’s not managing developments and looking after his five children, Ben loves nothing more than getting out on his bike.
“I love cycling. Any spare hour I have, I try to get out on the road,” he says.
Owner Manager, Mortgage Choice Brisbane City & Brisbane North
Matt Cunliffe stepped into the world of business ownership at 29, having been an employee in the banking and finance sector for some 11 years. In 2015, he purchased the Mortgage Choice business of which he had previously been employed by.
“I had a real hunger to take the business, for which I had poured my heart into as an employee, from strength to strength and see it succeed to the very best of its ability,” he says.
“Getting into business was a pursuit of mine so that I could be the determining factor in obtaining the financial freedom for my family and I, to enable us to have the lifestyle that we desire.”
For Matt, success in business ownership is not just in profitability, but also in the personal growth of the individuals that make up the business.
“The desire to grow a successful team and in turn a successful business was a major reason for me entering into business ownership as both factors are measurable and would create a positive outcome to the lives of not only my family but also the entire team.”
“It may sound idealistic, but my greatest motivation is to see the individuals that are employed in our businesses achieve their work and personal goals assisted by their growth within our company. Nothing pleases me more than having a satisfied staff member.”
Creative Director, Rokstar Salon
Situated in the beautiful and contemporary Glass Factory in Brisbane’s West End, with a design that captures inspired industrial style in a boutique urban outlook, Rokstar Salon prides itself on a unique customer experience. The architecture of the space is the perfect representation of the Rokstar brand: innovation, imagination and creativity, combining eclectic elements of glamour, sophistication and elegance with added attitude.
At the helm is Brodie-Lee Stubbins, a successful businesswoman who bought her first salon at just 18.
“To be honest it wasn’t something I’d planned on doing, the opportunity kind of fell in my lap. Everyone thought I was crazy and that I wouldn’t succeed. Three salons later, here I am!”
“The desire to build an empire, a brand that has a legacy and changes the status quo in hairdressing, that’s what drives me. I want to inspire, impact, and change lives. Whether that be helping a staff member achieve their goals, or a client in my salon that wants a new style or colour. Giving them that wow factor feeds my soul. I’m driven by my passion to keep improving and chasing goals.”
This drive has seen Brodie-Lee and the team nominated for many awards, including Australian Salon owner of the Year and Queensland Salon of the Year.
Director & CEO, Platypus Graphics
As a boy, Tom Lusch grew up in his parent’s small print business, spending a good part of school holidays wrapping parcels, cleaning up and stacking paper.
“I hated it, but when faced with getting a job after school had finished, I did an aptitude test at TAFE, which lead me to getting an apprenticeship as a printing machinist in Melbourne. I soon learned to appreciate the passion and the challenge of all things printed,” Tom says.
In 1980, after working in several different printing houses, Tom moved to Brisbane and eventually started his own business, Platypus Graphics, five years later. What was initially a one-man show, has since become a 24-hour operational national business with roughly 100 employees.
“I’ve seen a lot of technological advancements over the years,” he says.
“The future is a digital world, so our business has been evolving to suit. At present, we ship out over 100 million packages a year. Today people are placing orders and purchasing online via Platypus Connect and this makes turn around fast and logistically efficient.”
This attitude has seen Platypus win many industry awards and maintain its position as the number one private print business in Queensland producing quality print, packaging and publications.
“Persist to be the best. That’s my motto.”
Founder & CEO, Racecourse Road Dental
As a Creative Director, Ingrid Steven understands the importance of providing exceptional service, offering their clients dental cosmetics, general dentistry and total face rejuvenation. And as a businesswoman, Ingrid is just as passionate about improving the lives of others.
Since establishing Racecourse Road Dental in 2016, Ingrid has grown to be a prominent person in the Ascot/Hamilton community. She is committed to encouraging and supporting local business and community projects. She is immensely passionate about giving back.
“I love living & working in 4007, I am interested in the progress and development of our area while preserving and respecting the heritage of our neighbourhood,” Ingrid muses.
“Our community is tight through thick and thin, and the preservation of that feeling is important to our family and the local families.”
Ingrid is involved with many charities, including Peninsula Animal Aid, Fresh Start Rescue, Gold Coast Hospital Foundation, Life Flight, Liptember FWH, Red Cross, RIZEUP, Women’s Legal Services, The Distinguished Gentleman Ride, Zoe’s Angels, and Running CEO’s, having previously been one of the Running CEO’s herself from 2016 – 2017.
“My maternal instinct is deep to my core having four kids, four dogs and a cat. That maternal instinct drives me to give back. It is important to me not to only take and receive, but to give. That is when I am at my most fulfilled.”