An Irishman’s self-started business has been named 2012 Telstra Western Australian Business of the Year.
Mark Keogh, originally from Rathfarnham in Co. Dublin, said he was delighted with the win, which saw his company, UON Pty Ltd, beat 5000 entrants to clinch the title in Perth on July 17.
UON Pty Ltd, based in Malaga, was established to manufacture power load testing equipment that would survive Australia’s hottest temperatures.
Mr Keogh and partner Shaun Matthews recognised that European-built load banks were unable to endure the harsh Australian environment, prompting them to launch their niche product manufacturing business in 1998.
Following his partner’s departure in 2006, the company was re-branded and the range of products and services available grew.
The road to success has been long and arduous for Mr Keogh, who made the move to Western Australia in 1989.
“My wife is Australian and when we came out, it was really to introduce myself to her family in Sydney. We went over to Western Australia: The work and the accommodation was a third of the price of Sydney at the time, and there was plenty of work there. There was an opportunity to buy a house and still have a good life,” he told the Irish Echo.
His ambition to pursue more innovative work was the motivation to start working in the mines, he said.
He remarked that the time was not without its challenges: “On one job, we went to Mount Keith- the shift was 14 weeks on, one off. You lived in a very small room and there were 1000 men in the camp. We all shared the one kitchen and the one bar. It was hard work,” he said.
“They’ve got hotel suites now, in comparison to the conditions of the 80’s and 90’s.”
Recalling the conditions and long hours, he said that the experience was necessary so he could get to know the industry and eventually, start a business.
“I had to learn about the industry and I had to work within the conditions that existed in the time.
“My reasoning was, ‘this is what the work is and this is what the circumstances are. If you want to work in this industry, you need to get used to it.’”
The Telstra Australian Business Awards were launched in 1992 to recognise the achievements of small and medium businesses.
The winners of the Telstra Western Australian Business Awards will be judged against category winners from other states and territories in the lead up to the national Telstra Australian Business Awards. Winners will receive a share of $500,000 in cash and prizes, and become part of an exclusive national business alumni.