2016 has been an incredible year for business in Manningham, and this has been reflected by all of the fantastic applicants in the Manningham Business Excellence Awards. We changed the way businesses entered the awards, we removed the need for categories and we improved the judging process. And all feedback has been positive. This has resulted in strong entries, some well deserving winners, and a great gala night.

The biggest change in the awards process was the way businesses entered, which lead to how they were judged. This year we wanted to focus on the story of the business. We wanted to hear how you were created, we wanted to know what kept the fires burning, your desire to succeed. We wanted to discover what excellence meant to your business.

Danielle Storey has been a judge for these awards for the past three years. “It was such an honour to be asked to judge again,” she said. “I had a great time meeting all these wonderful businesses, and a difficult time finding one above them all!” We asked her what the differences between last year and this year was, in terms of the quality of entrants, the judging process and more.

“Last year we had award categories which the businesses applied for. This year, there was an umbrella which they all fit under, everyone was more or less equal, because we were comparing the stories of each business. We wanted to discuss what it means for excellence in business. Excellent businesses have the same denominators, no matter the size, so why have categories based on that?”

“The judging process was more than just paper. This year we had site visits, so we were able to go deeper into what made an excellent business. We got to see and speak to the people involved and it was so uplifting. Going through their entry forms, and the stories they told us, and then meeting face-to-face the people behind those stories, it showed me what being a champion in business is like, and how important it is to be such a champion. We had the opportunity to cheer on businesses, be encouraged for the future of Manningham because of these businesses. It was really powerful for me, for us. It was such a pleasure to judge.”

2016 also introduced the mentors for entrants, real life business owners, volunteers, who helped the applicants ready themselves. These impartial sounding board really helped business focus their approach to the application process.

“I think the mentors made the judging process much easier,” Danielle said. “There were 20 utterly stand out applicants, so brilliant because of the mentors.”

Danielle says- “What the Manningham Business Excellence Awards Committee did between 2015 and 2016 was, in my opinion a brilliant success.”

And all of this preparation, mentoring, hours of discussion and judging, brought us all together last night. Over two hundred people in the room last night, when four years ago, as mentioned by a few speakers, there was barely 50 people for the awards. There was a record number of applicants for the awards, close to 50 businesses put their hat in the ring for a nomination, almost double what it was last year

There were 6 Highly Commended Award winners, and 6 Business Excellence Winners, plus 2 surprise Judges Encouragement Award Winners

And the winners were:


Judges Encouragement Award

Guttervac (has been in business less than a year!)

Ladies Night In


Highly Commended

Cafe 21

Helloworld Lower Templestowe

Ivory Hearing

Simply Natural Therapies

The White Owl Espresso Bar

Warrandyte Quality Meats


Winners of Business Excellence 2016

Doncaster Community Care and Counselling Centre, INC (DONCARE)


Philip Webb Real Estate

Safety Wise Solutions

The Onemda Association INC

Your Indulgence Skin Clinic


And, the Manningham Business Excellence Awards, Business of the year for 2016



Olivigna is a winery and olive grove, and a top class restaurant in Warrandyte. An idea, twenty years in the making, Olivigna opened its doors for business in 2014, with Anna Gallo and John DiPetro at the helm. They even featured in an episode of that cooking show on Channel 10, when Nigella Lawson was visiting!

Winners last year for Best In Class, this year they took the step up to the Big Prize, Business of the Year.

We spoke with John after his win.

“This win was a shock, I wasn’t expecting to win. I thought one of the community places would take it out. But obviously the passion that my wife and I show in our business, you can see that reflected in the community.”

“It’s been a long road. This hasn’t happened overnight. There’s been a lot of planning and thought. The happiness we get from all the patrons that come up is fantastic.”

We asked John about the mentoring process.

“It was very helpful. It helps with the thinking, it assists you, you’re talking to someone outside your circle, who can give you ideas. We got great feedback.”

And a final thought from 2016’s Manningham Business Excellence Awards Business of the Year-

“Anna and myself had this dream, and now we’re able to live this dream. And all the people around us click, and what makes us work well.”

The Manningham Business Excellence Awards Committee wishes to thank all the excellent businesses that have entered the Awards. You all are outstanding in your own right for taking the time to enter and focus on your business success.

If you wish to be part of the Awards next year please contact the Committee on – until next year…

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