An element of good business

ARMED with a business scholarship and a government grant, Toormina business, Thermal Electric Elements, is taking Coffs Harbour by storm.

Having recently brought six new jobs to the area through the purchase of a Sydney business, the family-owned company is set to create more local positions thanks to a scholarship worth almost $16,000.

Out of 22 NSW businesses selected for the National Australia Bank scholarship, Thermal Electric Elements (TEE) is the only regional one. Julie Jardine, who owns the business with her husband, Michael Basa, is the only woman in the course.

"I feel honoured to have been chosen," Julie said. "Most businesses selected have much bigger turnovers than ours."

Businesses are selected for their potential to grow, and they receive training in business management, including leading, training and delegating.

"Initially, we will have to present our business plan and expansion plan to a panel of experts, who will pick it to pieces, and ultimately improve it," Julie said.

"This will help us to grow, particularly with our exporting. We're hoping to increase our exports to 20 per cent of the business, and increase our turnover to create another four new positions.

"The training provided by the scholarship will be a huge help in achieving that," Julie said.

TEE, which manufactures specialised heating elements for industries such as mining, commercial refrigeration, and commercial cooking, currently exports about five per cent of its products.

"The domestic market is becoming a bit tight, so we need to look elsewhere. Being based in Coffs Harbour and not near our customers we're used to sending products out, so we're good at exporting."

Originally established and operated in Sydney, with Sydney customers, Julie and Michael relocated the business to Coffs Harbour in 1988.

"We came here for lifestyle reasons," Julie said. "Coffs has fantastic weather and beaches and is a wonderful place to bring up your children."

Since then, TEE has grown to employ 28 staff and service Australian and overseas customers in Saudi Arabia, Russia, Hong Kong, South Africa and Europe.

State Government assistance, as part of the Regional Business Development Scheme, made possible the relocation of the Sydney-based electric duct heater manufacturer TEE recently purchased.

Visiting the factory recently, NSW Minister for Regional Development, David Campbell, said that small businesses like TEE are the backbone of State and regional economies.

"First and foremost, small businesses employ people," Mr Campbell said.

"But they also make many other contributions, like donating funds to community and sporting groups. In NSW we have almost 400,000 small businesses which employ about a million people. It's important to recognise their contribution to the regional community.

"The expansion of Thermal Electric Elements is good news for the people and the economy of Coffs Harbour."

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