Independence shines at National Awards of Excellence


IHG Awards

This year’s IHG expo was a little different, as we were unable to gather due to COVID restriction. The show must go on and the event proceeded with a weeklong exhibition, online business sessions and the National Excellence Awards being held virtually.

The awards were a unique experience for everyone with some village groups gathering together in venues across the county to hear the winners announced.

Jacki Kersting (State Sales Manager – VIC/TAS) and Greg McKean (National Manager – Joint Ventures)  were the MC’s along with members of IHG’s support office helping to present the awards. This was a nice touch as many of these people are often heard of but never seen.

14 awards were presented on the night, including three supplier awards, eight member awards and three individual awards.

2020 Supplier of the year

The suppliers of the year were the first awards announced, nominees in each of these categories have consistently delivered quality product innovation, have consistent field representation and seek out promotions and initiatives to support IHG members.

They have demonstrated a long term commitment to working with IHG to grow market share and build a point of difference.

2020 Supplier of the year – Build Category


  • Blue scope
  • Hume Doors and timber
  • Paslode
  • Selley’s

IHG AwardsHume Doors & Timber

Winner: Supplier of the year – Build

This year’s winner have demonstrated great attributes in their loyalty to our Members and IHG. They have nurtured a culture of trust and openness with the members that has resulted in over 10% growth even during these challenging times.

They have worked closely with members to help them find ways to grow together and have gone the extra mile to make that happen. During the year they have also delayed price rises and tried to do anything they could to lessen the impact on members wherever possible.

Two areas where Hume Doors and Timber have excelled in supporting our members is in expanding their offer to job lots so members can order exact amounts for customers, and undertaking dual calls with members to builders.

In 2020 Hume also found a way to launch new products to members, including

  • Expanding their range of H3 treated pine primed and mouldings range so they can offer the full suite of products
  • Evolution Door cavity Pocket upgrades to include soft close and touch release features.
2020 Supplier of the year – Fix & Fit Out


  • Yardforce (Sumec)
  • Weldclass
  • Trio

IHG AwardsYardforce (Sumec)

Winner: Supplier of the year – Fix & Fit Out

Yardforce has continued to demonstrate a willingness to partner with IHG to ensure its members have access to quality products at competitive prices. In particular, their ability to react quickly has proven to be invaluable during the challenges of 2020. 

With sales growth in the Yard Force brand of almost 94%, the team have proactively looked for ways to support the Group with a strong promotional program across both Power Garden & Power Tools, a dedicated Facebook page to direct customers back to M10 / HTH stores and a digital range brochure specifically created to suit the IHG network.

They continue to drive product development to ensure our members have a strong pipeline of new products and improved specifications while maintaining the highest levels of quality and profitability that members have come to expect from Yard Force.

2020 Supplier of the year – Finish & Exterior


  • Dulux Australia
  • Amgrow
  • Husqvarna

IHG AwardsDulux Australia

Winner: Supplier of the year – Finish & Exterior

Every year IHG run through a list of criteria to see which supplier really stands apart from the others. This year has been exceptional in terms of the sales growth but for the winner of this award, there were two standout reasons in particular that gave them the win – stock availability and delivering a truly holistic business partnership with IHG and members. 

Whilst Paint is produced locally there were nonetheless COVID challenges.  Despite that, Dulux maintained a DIFOT to our stores at the normal exceptional rate.

You moved stock between DCs as borders closed, and then back again when they didn’t!

Covid was at its height just as we were about to start the national roll out of the Accent Paint re-launch in July. The first time in 14 years that we have had a full relaunch of our Own Brand Paint.

Undeterred by lockdowns you switched everything to an online launch, producing videos to do the official launch and the member training and, where possible, the physical elements continued.

Our YTD scan sales growth of Accent is at 27%, higher than that of our branded paints. Had we had to delay the launch our members would not be enjoying these unprecedented sales levels.

In addition, the passion and co-operation from everyone at Dulux is visible to all. From the investment and pride in the Accent Brand, through to the hard work and dedication of your member-facing sales teams, we wouldn’t be gaining the market share we are in Paint, without your support.

2020 Store of the Year Awards

2020 Village of the Year

This award celebrates Member collaboration, the past 12 months have been difficult for stores, however, we have seen store work together to drive sales and teaming up to combat the effect of competition. They have collaborated on cluster buying and driving improvements by sharing ideas.


  • Northern Independents (NSW)
  • Melbourne Traders & VIC Pioneers (VIC/TAS)
  • Western Warriors (WA)
  • Central Diggers (SA/NT)
  • Bush 2 Border (QLD)

IHG AwardsMelbourne Traders & VIC Pioneers (VIC/TAS) 

Winner: Village of the Year

This year’s winner endured the strictest COVID lockdown in Australia for almost four months, where village members had to close their retail shops, while be able to continue to operate Trade under very strict requirements.

They not only adapted their businesses to meet the lockdown requirements, but came together as a village, sharing their experiences, frustrations and learnings on a weekly video conference.

Their teams worked patiently with customers to try to solve their DIY queries, often over the phone, and provided a contactless, helpful service.

All members ‘hub & spoked’ with each other and did whatever it took to collectively service the community.

In the midst of stage 4 lockdown the members introduced Click & Deliver to metro customers and bought decking together as part of a collated buy. Stores didn’t miss a social media beat, continuing to engage with customers on specials, handy hints or showcasing their latest trade projects.

And finally, the leadership shown from the store owners and managers during such a tough time with stressed, exhausted staff and anxious customers should be commended.

2020 Garden Centre of the Year

This award judged across all the IHG brands, the award is presented to the store who sets the benchmark for Garden Centre retailing in terms of quality, range, layout and customer experience.


  • Gubbins Pulbrooke Mitre 10 (NSW)
  • Diamond Valley Mitre 10 (VIC)
  • Emerald Mitre 10 (QLD)
  • McLaren Vale Mitre 10 (SA)
  • Tuckey’s Mitre 10 (WA)

IHG AwardsMcLaren Vale Mitre 10 (SA)

Winner: Garden Centre of the Year

McLaren Vale Mitre 10 has demonstrated that they truly are the best store in town. The owners continue to demonstrate their retail leadership through consistent investment in new ranges and layout for their store.

The business is famous for its garden offer, with a best-practice reputation for quality and healthy presentation of plants.

The team work extremely hard on presentation and challenge themselves to improve. Even with high sales growth during COVID, the store was able to maintain healthy stock levels and great standards, when demand was at its highest.

The Garden Centre manager, Anthony Butz’s passion and enthusiasm for plants and people helps to bring the Garden Centre to life. He takes his expertise to social media, giving regular helpful hints to customers demonstrating range, knowledge, value and service.

2020 Store of the Year – Convenience Format

This award recognising the best members within the True Value and Thrifty Link brands. These stores demonstrate a good understanding of the role they play in their local market and allow their service and offer to shine as their key point of difference.  


  • Bungendore Rural Services (NSW)
  • Trafalgar True Value Hardware (VIC)
  • Woodgate Beach Hardware Thrifty Link (QLD)
  • Port Broughton Thrifty Link Hardware (SA)
  • Manjimup Motors True Value Hardware (WA)

Manjimup Motors True Value Hardware (WA)

Winner: Store of the Year – Convenience Format

Manjimup Motors True Value Hardware has proven time and time again that they punch well above their weight for their size. There are plenty of surprises when you walk through the doors of this 5-paint brush store – customer service, ranging and standards making this store a destination for many in the community.

The team pride themselves on store standards and the tailored range they’re able to offer on such a small footprint. A great range of hardware and power garden is on offer, along with bearings and industrial supplies that support the existing mechanical business.

Owners Jeff and Maree are strong advocates for the Group, fully brand compliant and put every effort into supporting all initiatives.

Upskilling their team in product knowledge is evidenced by a great completion rate for eLearning modules. The team are also very supportive of community organisations and local sporting clubs.

2020 Store of the Year – Small Format

Winning this award take commitment pride and passion, to provide the best shopping experience to customers and to also be an active and worthy contributor to the local community. Members in this category are assessed in a number of key areas including HSA, sales performance and innovation.


  • Sunlite Mitre 10 York St (NSW)
  • Rochester Mitre 10 (VIC)
  • Bundall Mitre 10 (QLD)
  • Strathalbyn Mitre 10 (SA)
  • Bindoon Mitre 10 (WA)

IHG AwardsSunlight Mitre 10 York St (NSW)

Winner: Store of the Year – Small Format

With a consistent 5-paintbrush standard and one of the highest Mighty Rewards cash sales rates, Sunlite Mitre 10 are an outstanding inner city business that put emphasis on maximising a small space.

Having completed a Sapphire transformation in 2017 the York Street location was the clear stand out in 2020.

Strategic placement of fast-selling lines and diligent inventory controls help the store achieve very high stock turns with lesser stock weight.

COVID lockdowns have hampered sales for this store however new opportunities are always being sought with sales reps highly active in the community and innovative marketing to gain cut-through to local customers.

2020 Home Timber & Hardware Store of the Year

Nominees for this award demonstrate excellent standards in service and community spirit. These stores have continued to drive improvement each year within their businesses.


  • Narooma Building Supplies (NSW)
  • Beaconsfield Home Timber & Hardware (VIC)
  • Home Timber & Hardware Biloela (QLD)
  • Kies Home Timber & Hardware (SA)
  • Waroona Home Timber & Hardware (WA)

Home Timber & Hardware Biloela (QLD)

Winner:  Home Timber & Hardware Store of the Year

The Biloela store has recently undergone a Home Hardware Refresh – the first in Australia to pilot the program – which has helped to lift the store standards to a new level.

The community has responded well to the upgrade and sales across both Trade and Retail have lifted, keeping business local. Tim and Kent are heavily involved with the community, supporting many local events and groups.

Staff take a lot of pride in merchandising dense ends, upgrading ranges and pulling together creative promotions to maintain strong ties to the community. The store initiates regular Facebook activity during seasonal events such as catalogues, birthdays and their very own Christmas lights competition.

The store is a co-exist site and continues to work progressively through the IHG initiatives whilst maintaining a healthy working relationship with the local Mitre 10 store.

2020 Mitre 10 Store of the Year – Medium Format

The nominees in this category are stores that have applied the disciplines and energy necessary to maintain high standards in presentation and service to their customers.


  • Kincumber Mitre 10 (NSW)
  • Pontings Mitre 10 (VIC)
  • Parkside Mitre 10 (QLD)
  • Wills & Co Mitre 10 (SA)
  • Streeter & Male Mitre 10 (WA)

IHG AwardsPontings Mitre 10 (VIC)

Winner:  Mitre 10 Store of the Year – Medium Format

A long established Warrnambool business, the Pontings business has been reinvented through the Sapphire program. 

The Mitre 10 brand has been warmly welcomed in Warrnambool and it shows in their sales numbers – with continued growth across the store, up 42 per cent year on year.

Customers regularly express how pleased they are with the new range and layout since the completion of the transformation in 2019.

Adopting shopper-led range, Trade Technology and eLearning are some key reasons for their recent growth, as well as local community initiatives through social media, Mighty Rewards drives and colouring competitions for the kids.

2020 Trade Centre of the Year

This is a hotly contested award with nominated stores displaying trade excellence in all facets of their business. These stores adopt IHG trade strategy programs such as trade technology, truck tracker, SLA and customer segmentation and contribute to trade cluster meetings. They lead the way in driving the success of IHG build trade strategy.


  • Johnson Bros Mitre 10 Mona Vale (NSW)
  • Hume & Iser Mitre 10 Bendigo (VIC)
  • Tully Mitre 10 Trade Centre (QLD)
  • Barossa Mitre 10 (SA)
  • Versatile Mitre 10 (WA)

IHG AwardsHume & Iser Mitre 10 (VIC)

Winner:  Trade Centre of the Year 

Hume & Iser Mitre 10 turned 140 years old in 2020, and is an institution within its regional location.

The longevity of this business is down to the team’s ability to reinvent themselves year after year, delivering to their customers’ needs and truly integrating into their local community.

Hume and Iser invested in the Sapphire program in 2019 and the results are outstanding. An extensive upgrade to the trade area sees all timber now completely undercover. New pigeon-hole displays facilitate easy re-stocking and access, and designated traffic management systems make it a safe and convenient destination for tradies.

Hume and Iser were early adopters of Trade Technology and have been an integral part of the Metricon trial with great results.

2020 Store of the Year – Large Format

Nominees for this award have invested in their business, their team and their community. They are the best stores in town.


  • Johnson Bros Mitre 10 Mona Vale (NSW)
  • TM&H Mitre 10 (VIC)
  • Sunshine Mitre 10 Gympie (QLD)
  • McLaren Vale Mitre 10 (SA)
  • Margaret River Mitre 10 (WA)

TM&H Mitre 10 Moe (VIC)

Winner:  Mitre 10 Store of the Year – Large Format

There is so much to say about this exceptional family business – one that cares for their staff, delivers for their customers, engages with their community, is respected by their peers, invests in their future and adopts all IHG initiatives.

TM & H Mitre 10 in Moe is one of the finest examples in IHG to represent our values to the highest standard in every way.

Having invested in Sapphire just over 12 months ago, it has been an amazing transformation for the Hitchins family with the George Street store and new Trade Only site on Waterloo Road both delivering incredible results and, importantly, adding significant value to the local township of Moe.

The Hitchins family are the first to help out in any situation – whether it be supporting other stores, the community or the Derrimut DC during lockdown. They embrace the community spirit of Mitre 10 by driving Mighty Rewards, holding cancer fundraising nights or celebrating the Built By Families concept through their own television advertising.

They support all IHG initiatives, Trade Technology, Store Dashboard, eLearning, shopper-led range and have recently added a more extensive range of greenlife as well as a Wattyl Trade Centre. They are very active participants in Village and Cluster meetings and this award is in recognition of all that hard work.

Individual Awards

2020 Paul Murphy Mighty Helpful Service Award

This award celebrates exceptional service and advice by an individual employee within a Mitre 10, Home Timber & Hardware, True Value or Thrifty Link store.

It is someone who lives the brand essence of being ‘Mighty Helpful’ in a similar vein to the person that this award is named in honour of – Paul Murphy from Murphys Mitre 10.

Paul lived and acted by the Mighty Helpful slogan, both in business and in life.

Paul believed that excellence customer service was the key to a retail business. He ensured the customer felt important and was treated in the same manner that he would want to be treated.

Paul gave up his time to educate the customer, his staff and his peers. He had an amazing ability to impart knowledge without realizing he was.

The Nominees are:

  • Dianne Foat – Coopers Mitre 10
  • Byard Sheppard – Doncaster Mitre 10
  • Vanessa Rossen – Dongera Mitre 10
  • Christy Hose – Faggs Mitre 10 Wallington
  • Julie Samuelsson – Hastings Co-op Mitre 10
  • Alysha Somerville – TM&H Mitre 10
  • Dale Okley – Tuckey’s Mitre 10
  • Stacey West – Tait Mitre 10
  • Jarrard Murfet – Becks Mitre 10

IHG AwardsVanessa Rossen from Dongara Mitre 10

Winner: Paul Murphy Mighty Helpful Service Award

Vanessa epitomizes what we mean when we say ‘Mighty Helpful’.

Her friendly disposition, generous nature and the trust she has built with local customers ensures they return again and again.

Nothing is too hard for this person, she shows a can-do attitude at all times.

2020 Blue Blood Award

This award is extremely important to the culture of the Independent Hardware Group as it recognises an IHG support staff member that delivers exceptional service, expertise and support to our members.

To be called a ‘Blue Blood’ is possibly the best compliment we can give someone internally.

A Blue Blood demonstrates a positive attitude, adds value to our members and displays behaviors aligned to our core values.


  • Joanna Poon – Supply Chain
  • Paul Nagl – IT
  • Taryna Rao – Finance
  • Sarah Hewson – Marketing
  • Steve Bocjevski – Derrimut DC
  • Chris Menezes – IT
  • Richard Walker – Merchandise
  • Paul Bordonaro – Store Development
  • Kimberley Gittings – Store Development
  • Brent Riddiford – Store Development
  • Noel Green – Store Development
  • Nicole Sexton – Store Development
  • Oliver Krumins – QLD State Operations

IHG AwardsPaul Nagl

Winner:  Blue Blood Award

For 10 years this year’s Paul has delivered outstanding solutions and innovation quietly and consistently. He has been unwavering in his dedication to delivering solutions that are fit for purpose, that make life easier for our members and are low cost, efficient and sustainable.

Those members on the NAC and Trade action group would know that this individual calmly approaches each project or challenge, and his communication is logical, understandable and without pretense.

He and his team have delivered step change in our Trade Technology and e-commerce functionality, but it is the huge volume of work that happened behind the scenes after our businesses merged that really demonstrated his leadership and ability to cut to the root of an issue.

Those members on the NAC and Trade action group would know that this individual calmly approaches each project or challenge, and his communication is logical, understandable and without pretense. 

He and his team have delivered step change in our Trade Technology and e-commerce functionality, but it is the huge volume of work that happened behind the scenes after our businesses merged that really demonstrated his leadership and ability to cut to the root of an issue.

After 10 years with IHG Paul has announced his decision to retire from the business, and of course he goes with our blessing and our respect.

It was always going to take a very special, high quality person to lead the business and our members through integration, development and innovation on a very low cost budget and we have been so fortunate to have had that person in Paul.

Paul on behalf of the entire group, you have made a difference and left a legacy from which we will continue to benefit for years to come.

2020 Hall of Fame Inductee

IHG AWards
Gary Woodruff 

Gary has been at the forefront of Mitre 10 for over 15 years , shaping the business and the trading model that exists today. 

He has always generously given his time and his expertise to guide Mitre 10 and everyone that works across it towards the successful business that it is today.

Gary was introduced to hardware through his father John, and has had 16 years running Woody’s hardware shops with his Dad and at their peak they owned 5 Mitre 10 stores in Victoria.

Importantly, Gary tended to find broken stores in need of attention and invested in them to get performance back up again and build the best store in town. 

Gary took his broad experience and commenced assisting the group, initially working on the members marketing sub-committee for Mitre 10’s south east division and then joining the Mitre 10 board. 

In the 2000’s, Mitre 10 was on its knees. During 2008 and 2009 discussions were held with prospective equity partners in a bid to save Mitre 10 and get much needed capital.

Gary as deputy Chairperson, working alongside Lance Collins and Phil Petrie – rallied the members to prepare them for change and the eventual purchase of Mitre 10 by Metcash. 

He, with his peers, realised that the traditional co-op model of Mitre 10 would not survive in the face of Woolworths and Wesfarmers battling it out – Mitre 10 was in need of a helping hand and so followed the 50.1% Metcash investment. At the first board meeting of M10 and Metcash, Andrew Reitzer advised the board that the current CEO Mark Burrows would not be the future CEO, but he had a guy and asked Gary, Lance and Phil to interview him. So at a hotel in Melbourne Mark Laidlaw was duly interviewed and the rest is history.

It was Gary who guided Mark, alongside Carl and Robin, in understanding the network, the individuals and in particular sharing his knowledge of Trade. Gary used his relationships to facilitate discussions with key store owners to rebuild trust and belief in the future of the group. 

In 2011 he joined the Trade Action Group and lent his experience and counsel to guide the Mitre 10 brand on its strategy of “Build Trade” and remains there to this day. 

At Village meetings he has shared his experience, keeping the success and viability of store owners’ front of mind.  He has undertaken Sapphire at Benalla with outstanding results, and given the locals an amazing offer to shop local.


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