Colourful Kekovich wows at local launch
Colourful television personality Sam Kekovich was the star of the Berrigan Shire when he officially launched the return of the revamped shire business awards on Thursday night.
Mr Kekovich entertained the 80 business owners and staff at the Cobram Barooga Golf Club with his trademark dead pan, straight-to-the-point routine.
He humorously reminisced about how it was ‘‘tougher in my day and the world has gone soft’’, even telling one audience member ‘‘if they wanted you to speak they would have asked you’’.
Unsurprisingly, Mr Kekovich boasted why he’s one of the greatest salesman of all time, hilariously talking about how he promoted lamb and how Paul Hogan’s ‘put a shrimp on the barbie’ was nothing compared to him.
But Mr Kekovich also showed his serious side, encouraging the business people to continue to strive and why country people know what hardships are.
He said making conversation is just not important for business but in everyday life.
‘‘Retailers are persuasive communicators; the ability to be able to get a buck from my pocket to buy your product,’’ he said.
Mr Kekovich also spoke about price being the easiest objection to overcome, based on strong relationships with customers.
‘‘They will give you the opportunity to respond and be a part of the discussion,’’ Mr Kekovich said.
The Berrigan Shire Business Awards will be revamped in 2019, with the plan to have a different theme each year.
After a two year hiatus the event will return in April and will only retain just two of the major awards of previous years — Business of the Year and People’s Choice Award.
The rest of the evening will be dedicated to highlighting the set theme.
On Thursday, 80 people at the Cobram Barooga Golf Club were asked to vote for a preferred theme for the first year during the Business Awards Night launch.
Themes included ‘What’s New – for businesses that have been trading for four years or less’, ‘Automation, Innovation or Invention’, ‘Food, Wine and Hospitality’, ‘What’s happening in Main Street’ and ‘Made in Berrigan Shire – Manufacturing, Agriculture, Arts etc.’
The preferred theme voted by the audience was ‘What’s New – for businesses that have been trading for four years or less’.
Berrigan Shire economic and industry development liaison Merran Socha explained to the audience how the Business Awards evening will run.
Ms Socha said the biggest change will be having just two awards for the whole program, however it will allow a greater emphasis on promoting the nominated business.
‘‘We want to focus on introducing businesses to the community whilst highlighting and showcasing what is here in the Berrigan Shire,’’ she said.
‘‘The way we’re going to run this is with a theme. One of the things we heard during feedback was there are always serial award winners and people.
‘‘So the new theme can highlight new business. We’re going to tell a story about the businesses that are involved with the theme.
‘‘Anyone can nominate a business and an external panel of judges will review all nominations and select a group of qualifiers. The qualifiers will be interviewed and the judges will select five finalists.
‘‘At the awards evening a short video outlining each of the five finalists will be presented so it will actually have a real focus on the business.
‘‘The People’s Choice Award is one we’re keeping because it’s grown in popularity due to online voting from the community. The last time we did it more than 1000 people voted.
‘‘The process will be similar; anyone can nominate a business and online voting will take place during March.’’
The Business Awards were first held in 1998 and over the next 18 years more than 650 businesses and individuals were nominated and more than 150 had won an award.
Barooga based Councillor John Bruce said the positivity of the old format still needs to carry over into next year.
‘‘The nights weren’t about winners it was about promoting the great things that are happening in the Berrigan Shire and perhaps giving business an opportunity to promote themselves; I hope this new launch is taking us in that same direction,’’ he said.
‘‘Since we cancelled the event in 2016 we’ve done a fair bit of work looking at how we can progress these awards by relaunching themes and sourced out to the community to get their feedback.
‘‘What we found out from the feedback is the business community still want the awards.
‘‘People were about promoting local business and highlighting achievements of local people and I think people would be amazed with the number of businesses we have operating in the shire.
‘‘Quite often there would be people saying they didn’t realise an award winner existed and that’s one important thing; we are selling our own businesses to our own people but that’s what these businesses are all about.
‘‘If there’s one thing I was always proud of it was how the business awards would bring our five Berrigan Shire communities together — four towns and the rural community.
‘‘We want to remember that fact; we can come together and communicate and socialise.’’
Tocumwal Chamber of Commerce president Sergio Redegalli said the evening is about gathering businesses together.
‘‘Getting together is important because we need more conversation and after four years living here I’m still meeting new business people across the shire.
‘‘This area is not just built up on farming; the businesses are also the heartbeat of local towns.’’
More photos from the launch are available at
At the business awards launch on Thursday were Gary Carr, Andrea O’Neill, Sam Kekovich, Sergio Redegalli (front), Darrell Bowden and Berrigan Shire economic and industry development liaison Merran Socha.
Councillor Colin Jones, Ian and Liz Lang and Claire and Mark Wileman.
Stewart Crawford, Cr Roger Reynoldson, Ted Hatty and Cr Ross Bodey.
Val and John Hand, Terry Walmsley and Sharen Parmley.