From the Newsroom

Representatives of The Whiskey Project Group at the Sydney Business Awards Gala dinner last week where Co-Founder and CEO, Darren Schuback accepted the awards for Business of the Year (pictured) and Excellence in International Business. Image: contributed.

The Whiskey Project Group wins Sydney Business Awards

Rodney Stevens

The accolades keep coming for The Whiskey Project Group, owners of Yamba Welding and Engineering, after they were announced as the winners of the Excellence in International Business and Business of the Year at a Gala Dinner hosted by Business NSW at Sydney Town Hall for the Sydney Business Awards last week.

These prestigious honours came after The Whiskey Project Group was named Australian Marine Exporter of the Year at the Sanctuary Cove International Boat Show in May, then their outstanding apprentice, Max Morfett, was announced as NSW Marine Apprentice of the Year, and two of their boats were named the best rescue vessels in the world.

The 18 categories of the NSW Business Awards honour the ingenuity, resilience, dedication to excellence, and commitment exhibited by businesses throughout NSW and the wins put The Whiskey Project Group in the state finals to be held later this year.

Bill Collingburn established Yamba Welding and Engineering in 1974 and sold the business to The Whiskey Project Group in 2021, when they also acquired the NZ based specialised boatbuilding and design business Naiad, and since their acquisition the business has experienced strong growth, celebrating their 50th birthday in May.

The Whiskey Project Group build high-performance specialised aluminium vessels for Marine Rescue NSW, NSW SES, Australian Border Force, Australian Defence Force, Australian Federal Police, Queensland Police, and their Naiad vessel designs supply the Victorian and Western Australian police forces.

Co-Founder and Managing Director, Ryan Carmichael said on behalf of he and Co-Founder and CEO, Darren Schuback, they would like to thank their team of 40 staff in Yamba who were instrumental in this success.

“The team in Yamba is our ‘centre of gravity’, it is where we have seen the most impressive organic growth in our domestic manufacturing capability over the past 24 months,” he said.

“We have had some great leadership of the team over the past couple of years under Jamie Howden who has had the helm of the Yamba enterprise up until the last few months where he handed over to Michael Bradmore.”

Mr Carmichael said The Whiskey Project Group are active members of both the Sydney and Northern Rivers regions in the Business NSW association, and they are looking forward to the upcoming Northern Rivers event and the state finals where they will be finalists.

“We were recommended by our business advisor to nominate for the Excellence in International Business category, and we were advised of our selection as a finalist in May,” he said.

“One business was picked as the overall Business of the Year, and we were very excited to receive this award.”

The Excellence in International Business Award recognises a business that exports its products or services internationally, in order to build a positive reputation for Australian products and services and to deliver opportunities for business growth and success.

The Business of the Year award, which was judged by a panel of 3 judges who did not judge any other entries in the awards, was awarded to a business that has been judged to be an outstanding business, that has provided an entry that demonstrates achievements and excellence over and above all other entrants.

Mr Carmichael attributed the Excellence in International Business award and the rapid growth in exports for The Whiskey Project Group to a breakthrough United States Military $30 million plus contract they were awarded for the Whiskey Bravo combatant craft in April 2023.

“This is the start of a major series of programs that we are looking to grow from in the Clarence Valley area as we build our manufacturing capability,” he said.

“We don’t get recognition like these awards, or a contract with the US Military without doing something exceptional, and the quality of our workmanship and manufacturing that we produce in regional NSW is recognised globally as world leading.

“We are looking forward to growing centralised manufacturing footprint within our group and the Clarence Valley area is central to our strategic plan.

“It’s great to continue a legacy of a business that can survive for 50 years, we are now seeing exponential growth and there is a really exciting pipeline of work coming through from the Australian Government and all of their agencies.”