By Narelle Coulter

LOVE your team and be bold.
Those were the top tips for business success from the Casey Cardinia Business of the Year owner Jan Vydra at a special winner’s lunch on Friday 18 November.
Mr Vydra, co-owner of Australian Fresh Leaf Herbs, was joined at D’Angelo Estate Vineyard by other category winners, sponsors and councillors from the City of Casey and Cardinia Shire.
When asked for his top business tips, Mr Vydra didn’t hesitate in praising his team, who, he said, had gained a fillip from the business being named the region’s best.
“The award is not for me, but for the guys. It’s an acknowledgment that they work hard and are doing a good job,“ he said.
Mr Vydra said the positive, transparent culture at Australian Fresh Leaf Herbs had been vital to the firm’s success propelling output from 2000 bunches of herbs per week in the early days to 180,000 per week today.
Australian Fresh Leaf Herbs supplies 15 commercial businesses across the country and employs 85 staff.
“We are all connected and care about the organisation. It’s a great place to work,” Mr Vydra said.
His second tip was be bold.
“I think if you are bold, think as far as you can. If you think small, you will always be small.“
Mr Vydra said Australian Fresh Leaf Herbs, which is based at Devon Meadows and Clyde, was now looking for a third site to expand its production of herbs for the retail and hospitality markets.
He was also exploring new ways to embrace the health-benefits of fresh herbs.
“I dream that one day we won’t put a pill in our mouth but a herb.“
He encouraged other businesses to nominate for the annual awards admitting that it is easy to make the excuse that you are too busy to deal with the entry requirements.
“I was humbled and touched when we were nominated. To win, I was ecstatic,” he said, beaming.
Among the other winners at the lunch were travel agents Nayaz Noor and Suchitra Reddy, owners of Berwick-based Safir Tours.
The niche business organises holidays in Australia for Indian tourists.
Mr Noor said winning the tourism award had raised the profile of their fledgling business.
“Ninety-nine per cent of our business is international, but a lot of our local suppliers now know we are a leading tourism company,“ Mr Noor said.
Among Safir’s suppliers are Puffing Billy, D’Angelo Estate and Moonlit Sanctuary.
The couple moved to Berwick four years ago, and have embraced their new home.
“The first few months were tough, we were in a new country on our own. But it’s been an exciting four years.”
Suyinh and Adam Beardsley, owners of Enhance Yoga, took out the people’s choice award.
Ms Beardsley said the award and the resulting publicity had driven new clients through the doors of their Berwick-based business.
“I’ve also been happy with the networking opportunities that have come from being involved in the awards,” Ms Beardsley said.
“The award has also given us the confidence to believe that we are on the right track.”

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