RESPECTED businessman Tony Cade was remembered as a "turnaround leader" on Thursday at peak manufacturing group HunterNet's annual Chairman's Awards.
Group chairman Steve Tolley said Mr Cade, who was CEO of the organisation when he died suddenly in December after a short illness, had joined HunterNet in 2013 after the Global Financial Crisis and quickly helped it rebuild and strengthen its position.
"He enhanced our service offerings to our members, diversified our revenue streams and led the growth of the Group Training Company to ensure it provided highly valued services and delivered profit to the cooperative," Mr Tolley said.
"The significant improvement in our financial performance enabled HunterNet to implement value adding initiatives to our members ...Tony steered HunterNet to be the most successful membership cooperative of its kind. He supported our members in their journey to be successful and lived the true spirit of HunterNet - The Power of Many."
The 2020 awards had been cancelled during the pandemic.
The most prestigious accolade, the Harvey Knox Award, recognising an individual who has shown ongoing support to HunterNet and shaped its achievements, was awarded to veteran HunterNet board member Leigh Bryant.
"Her commitment to HunterNet, our values and vision for the region are second to no-one, going well beyond my involvement," Mr Tolley said.
"Leigh has been a member for over 20 years and on the Board for the last 8 years. She has been instrumental in driving diversity within our organisation and the industry, she is highly respected within the Hunter business community and has been mentoring many of HunterNet SMEs, not only covering export markets but across all aspects of managing their businesses.
"Her story of success in what was traditionally a male-dominated industry is exceptional and a testament to her professionalism, tenacity and depth of experience in our industry and region."
Heatherbrae manufacturing specialist SRO won the Chairman's Business Award for excellence in work health and safety and Cardiff's Nupress Group won the export award.
The Rod Murphy Innovation Award was given to UTS Group, while Sharni Campbell won the Networking Award. Special mention went to Department of Regional NSW executive Mark McClean for attracting business to the Hunter amid the COVID-19 mayhem.
The Chairman's Awards serve to present HunterNet's Group Training Awards: Beaux Oakley was named as the outstanding achiever trainee; Jack Harrison was trainee of the year, Peter Mossad was named outstanding first year apprentice alongside Lillian Spooner.
The outstanding achiever, second year apprentice was Cameron Bowman and the third year outstanding achiever was David Hillard.
Callum Ford won the Ivan Randon Award and Bryceson King won the trainee award for excellence in safety.
Compass Pools was named as the Host Company of the Year.
Mr Tolley said Mr Cade, who he considered a dear friend, would be honoured "in a bigger way" at the 2021 Awards in November.