ECA News

Against the Odds- 2012 Australian Export Heroes

Liam Dilley - Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Even in these tough times for exporters there are some outstanding success stories to inspire the industry.

While the high dollar and the continuing ramifications of the Global Financial Crisis are still prevalent, it is good to be able to focus on the positive. The Australian Institute of Export today announced the seven recipients of the 2012 Australian Export Heroes Awards.

Just over ten years ago, the Australian Export Heroes Awards were created by a group who believed in acknowledging the efforts of hard working Australians, who often spend years and years building their companies and taking them to a global success; while also supporting Australian industry. 

Taking a company to export heights, as most established exporters can testify, is no small feat and for Australian companies they often have an even bigger mountain to climb, given our location. This year’s Export Heroes have often spent personal time away from family and friends in far flung and often dangerous locations around the world to have achieved success not only for their business but also their industry. We salute these individuals who have taken on the world and won.

To honour these outstanding export performances, on the 16th April the Governor of New South Wales, Her Excellency Professor Marie Bashir AC, CVO will officially present the 2012 Australian Export Heroes Awards to these seven high achieving Australians.

All of the Australian Export Heroes are special people who not only demonstrate an ability to take on challenges and win against the odds and the best the world can offer. They also show us and the world that Australia is much, much more than wheat, wool and minerals.

Ian Murray, Executive Director of the Australian Institute of Export said: “People who receive an export hero award have fought and won on the international stage.”

Technically smart, creative and hard working they are able to show the world that Australian’s can not only do anything, but that they can do it as well and often better than anybody else. We congratulate the 2012 Australian Export Heroes.

The 2012 Australian Export Heroes are:

  • Howard Mackay Croker from Croker Oars

Croker Oars was established in 1962 by Howard Croker. Over the past 48 years they have grown to become the second most prominent oar manufacturer in the world.  Today Croker Oars is exporting to more than 30 countries and has representatives in over 24 countries and manufactures between 8,000 and 12,000 oars a year with a work force of 16. Croker Oars is hoping for a succesful London Olympic campaign this year which will only assist in the success of the business.

  • Richard Rains from Sanger Australia

Richard Rains is Chief Executive Officer of Sanger Australia Pty Ltd (“Sanger”), a Proprietary Company that is ranked number 844 out of the top 2,000 companies in Australia. Sanger is well known around the world as an international trading merchant of high quality Australian meats. Richard has driven the companies export success to new markets.

  • Barry Thomas from Cook Medical

Since 1963, Cook Group companies have been among the leaders in developing healthcare devices that have improved lives around the world. In 2009 Barry returned to Australia to assume the role for Director Asia Pacific. Cook (US) could see the potential of Asia, and installed Barry to forge ten individual companies into a strategic regional operation.

  • David Chester from Magic Millions

For more than 30 years now, Australia’s longest-serving Bloodstock Agent, David Chester has been one of the leading figures on the Australian thoroughbred scene.  From his first thoroughbred sales selling rostrum at the Brisbane Showgrounds in 1966, David’s bloodstock management career took off.    From there the worldwide thoroughbred circuit became his oyster. 

  • Janine Allis from Boost Juice Bars

Janine is Founder and Managing Director of the Retail Zoo (holding company of Boost Juice Bars and Salsa’s Fresh Mex Grill) – which has more outlets in more countries than any other juice bar in the world. Boost Juice is well on the way to achieving their aim of being the ‘world’s most loved & favourite brand’ thanks to Janine’s passion and drive. 

  • Frank Seeley AM from Seeley International

Seeley International was founded in 1972 when Frank Seeley AM was selling portable air conditioners, and was the first to develop and manufacture portable (1972) and fixed (1983) residential evaporative air conditioners made entirely out of plastic, which overcame previous metal corrosion problems – quickly becoming the industry standard. 

  • Eduard Johannes Planken OAM from Wescobee Limited

Eduard is Chief Executive Officer of Wescobee Limited, established in 1926 and is exclusively owned by Western Australian beekeepers. With over 28 years involvement in the apicultural industry, Eduard has guided the company to the point where it now exports to around 20 countries.


  • Lisa McAuley
  • Australian Institute of Export
  • Tel: 02 8243 7400/ mobile: 0430 172458
  • E-mail:

About the Australian Export Heroes Program

Since its creation in 1997, the Australian Institute of Export has invited ninety-four of our leading exporters to join the Australian Export Heroes register.

The awards presentation on the 16th April 2012 will acknowledge and reward those really special people who have contributed to our country’s wellbeing.

Programs that involve the achievement of people are always special. There are a number of factors that make the Australian Export Heroes Awards even more special. People who receive an export hero award have fought and won on the international stage. They have made more sacrifices, travelled more miles and spent more time away from home than they would like to remember. They have that magic mix of good business skills blended with loads of passion.

Whether from big established business or from the family farm or factory, they all deserve special recognition for their vision, passion and sheer hard work and the awards presentation will thank them for their unique contribution and we thank their families for their support in what has undoubtedly been an interesting journey.  


Become A Member

Do you require an EMDG consultant to assist with your EMDG export grant application