Best in business honoured at the 2017 Albury Wodonga Business Awards

A home-grown woman who forged a successful finance company on the Border has been awarded the honour of running 2017’s most outstanding business.

Meiken Barnes was almost speechless when she got on stage at the the Albury Wodonga Business Awards on Friday night to accept the trophy for Intouch Finance.

But she said it was a special moment to be recognised for the company’s success.

“I’ve been so blessed in my business, been so blessed by the support in the business community,” Ms Barnes said.

“This is absolutely shocking. Business can be challenging and successful, and I just want to let everyone out there know that in their own business, success will come and you keep striving and you keep working hard.”

More than 50 years after John Mars came from the US to Wodonga, he has been inducted into the Albury-Wodonga business hall of fame in recognition of the impact of the Mars Petcare pet food processing plant.

The Border Mail editor Xavier Mardling presented the award, acknowledging the businesses’ 500 employees and more than $130 million per annum in expenditure with suppliers on the Border.

“The most impressive aspect of Mars’ tenure in Albury-Wodonga is the positive impact the company has had on its employees,” he said.

“The average working life of an employee at Mars is 17 years with an honour board at the Wodonga site celebrating hundreds of workers who’ve given more than 25 years’ service. Maybe it’s because they’re allowed take their pets to work? Or maybe it’s just because they run a damn good ship.”

Mars HR divisional director Jim Brodie accepted the award on behalf of Mr Mars and paid tribute to the “big leap of faith with investing into the market” in 1967.

“As a business, we’re all about making a better world for pets and that’s what we’ll continue to do … that’s really down to that vision that John Mars had for here in Australia,” he said.

“We’re really proud of the investment and the contribution that we’ve made to the community here.

“Even as we speak, there’s a lot of work and capital investment happening here on our site in Wodonga - over $100 million, which is really setting us up for success well and truly into the next 50 years.”

The event was hosted by television personality Andrew Daddo.

Other winners on the night included Junction Support Services as the employer of choice; Seeley International for excellence in innovation and the most outstanding medium or large business; Johnsons MME for excellence in commercial, professional and business; and Gateway Health for excellence in health, education and disability.