MKM Group founder Michael Kljaic was named the 2009 Gold Coast Business News Young Entrepreneur of the Year during a gala event at the Sheraton Mirage last Friday.
The 37-year-old edged out Zarraffa’s Coffee founder Kenton Campbell and Absynthe owner and restaurateur Meyjitte Boughenout to win the coveted award.
Total revenue generated by this year’s finalists exceeded $100 million.
After establishing MKM in1997, Kljaic has built his business to incorporate 100 staff and revenues of more than $40 million this FY.
Not content to bunker down during the economic turmoil of the last 12 months, he instead orchestrated a cavalier strategy that would prove to be the turning point of his business.
As projects around him were mothballed and receivership levelled some of his more colourful competitors, Kljaic’ s MKM Group won the $1 million State Government tender for civil works on the new hospital at Parklands.
“I just kept thinking ‘what do we need to do’ to get out of this and we were looking for anything to keep us going. I couldn’t sit around and wait, I had to make things happen and we did,” says Kljaic.
The former Serbian national who once washed buses for a living at Surfside where his late father drove the fleet, has done his dad George proud.
He even named one of his residential estates after him – the $70 million St George Springs at Warwick, west of Brisbane.
Gold Coast Business News editor Jason Oxenbridge, says the awards celebrated the achievements of business leaders aged 40 and under.
“We were inundated with entries for our second annual entrepreneur of the year and today marks the culmination of a hard fought 12 months in business by our finalists,” he says.
“Common dominators link our finalists and while there are obvious similarities, there are also glaring contrasts in their respective fields.
"Each has displayed remarkable tenacity in a volatile economy over the last 12 months to catapult their respective businesses.
“I congratulate the winner Michael Kljaic and all of our finalists and thank them for allowing Gold Coast Business News to critique their achievements in the public sphere.”
Associate professor of entrepreneurship and family business at Bond University Justin Craig, says an important distinction identified in this year’s crop is that they have not been obsessed with predicting the future. Rather, they have concerned themselves with creating the future.
“Despite what has been a challenging year for all sectors in all regions, these entrepreneurs have stayed true to their vision and been able to seek out opportunities,” says Professor Craig.
Profiles on each of the 19 finalists will be published in the November issue of Gold Coast Business News next week.
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