On 15 September, our General Manager, Matt Ellis, won the ATB Young Entrepreneur Award. The award was announced at the 27th Annual Western Sydney Awards for Business Excellence (WSABE) event held at the Waterview in Bicentennial Park. Over 500 people attended, including the Hon. Gladys Berejiklian MP, Premier of New South Wales and Jenny Aitchison MP, Shadow Minister for Small Business.
The WSABE is an annual award that recognises success stories of businesses in the Greater Western Sydney business community. Candidates are recognised for their excellence in innovation, marketing, sustainability, business ethics and customer service. Winners of the award are aligned to be the State Finalists in the NSW Business Chamber awards. This year, Avonlea Labels was nominated for two categories: Young Entrepreneur Award and Excellence in Small Business, taking home the trophy for the former.
The Young Entrepreneur award recognises an inspirational young person aged between 18 and 35 who, through their own commitment and passion, has built and operated a successful business. This award recognises young business leaders who demonstrate outstanding entrepreneurial spirit, strategic direction and innovative ideas whilst providing inspiration to a new generation of upcoming young business people.
“We are extremely excited to see that the future of Western Sydney lies safely in the hands of such talented individuals like Matthew,” said a spokesperson for The Parramatta Chamber of Commerce. “We wish you the best of luck in your business ventures in the future and hope you enjoy the rest of your night at the WSABE Gala.”
We sat down for a chat with Matt to get his thoughts on the win.
Congratulations on winning the Young Entrepreneur Award! How do you feel?
Elevated! The other seven finalists are such outstanding individuals; I already felt like a winner just to be nominated.
Who do you lean on to help you stay focused and driven?
My mum and dad, for sure. They put a lot of trust me in and I know I can always rely on them for advice and wisdom whenever I needed it. My wife is my rock, she supports me and we motivate each other every day.
Last, but not least, my team here at Avonlea. We hire for culture fit first and experience second, so we are all on the same page. Our mantra is ‘clients always come first’ —and we ensure this at every step of the way. My team has been outstanding and this award is not just my win, it’s our win.
What do you do differently that helps Avonlea Labels stand out in the market?
We offer business owners something unique: cutting-edge digital technology, customised label options, speedy turnaround and delivery at affordable rates.
But aside from that, as the owner, I know each of our clients personally—their needs, budget, markets, promotional strategies and other intimate details. They can talk to me in person or on the phone at any time, and I’ll stop at nothing to understand their business, meet their needs and deliver a high-quality product.
Our relationships with our customers extend far beyond the invoice. We engage with our customer base regularly by following and supporting their brand online, recommending or connecting like-minded small business owners, and providing free brand exposure for our customers through interview opportunities on our blog.
Why do you think you won the award?
I’d like to think it’s because my passion really shines through. I don’t just talk the talk; I walk the walk. I try to inspire through action, and I truly practice what I preach. I think people take notice of that.
I’m always learning, and I am constantly working to better my relationships, both at home and on the job. I might have seen success in my career, but I will be the first person to acknowledge that there’s a lot further to go—and I don’t plan on stopping until I get there.
My main goal is to be the best person I can be, and that takes continuous learning and growth.
Do you have advice for other young entrepreneurs out there?
As the saying goes: if at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again. Success is 99% grind and 1% luck. By grinding, you make yourself ready for when luck strikes and the opportunity presents itself. Find your passion, don’t be afraid to fail repeatedly and keep on moving forward.
Next stop: State finals
We’re crossing our fingers and toes for Matt as he progresses to the NSW Business Chamber State Business Awards on 17 November.