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08 Jul 2014 | Press Release

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Smiles all round for dental practice named Victorian Business of the Year

Awards and accolades

Smile Solutions, a one-stop-shop dental practice in Melbourne CBD's historic Manchester Unity building, has been crowned the 2014 Telstra Victorian Business of the Year.


Smile Solutions is Australia's largest private dental practice in one location with a team comprising 46 specialists, general dentists and hygienists or therapists, supported by 45 management and nursing staff, and a patient list of 65,000 people.

Two years after graduating from the University of Melbourne in 1993, Dr Kia Pajouhesh took over a small Melbourne CBD dental practice with eight patients and named it Smile Solutions.

He moved the business into the Manchester Unity building at Collins and Swanston Streets in 2003 and today he is managing director of a four-level business with a net annual turnover of $18 million that offers general dentistry, orthodontics, dental implants and specialist care.

Dr Pajouhesh says: ""I am totally committed to building 'the dental practice of dreams', a practice beyond the imagination of our patients, clinicians, management, administrative and nursing staff - and myself."

He said the keys to Smile Solutions' success were a unique 'One Team, One Place' business model that has debunked the stereotypes of dentists as unfriendly, uncomfortable, and unaffordable. Its special location and diversity of technology ensures treatment efficiency and superior comfort for patients, and also attracts the best clinicians.

"Seamless referrals from one Smile Solutions practitioner to another, each an expert in their own field, ensures optimum service for all dental needs," he said.

Other winners of the Telstra Victorian Business Awards include Prahran hair and wellness salon URBAN ESCAPE, whose owner Craig Withers says "the superstar is the person in the chair not behind it," and Shey Newitt and Ted Tolfree's CBD start-up Crisp Creative Salad.

NRS Australia, a recruitment agency that promotes young Australian athletes to thousands of coaches at American colleges each year, won the Small Business Award while The Enchanted Adventure Garden, a paradise of parkland, mazes, slides and tree-surfing on the Mornington Peninsula, won the Regional Award.

Will Irving, Telstra Business Group Managing Director and Ambassador for the Telstra Australian Business Awards, said: "All the winners are brilliant and inspirational businesses whose owners are recognised for their professionalism, innovation, leadership and creative use of technology.

"Smile Solutions has created genuine points of difference - they became the dental practice that has multiple specialists under one roof in the heritage-listed Manchester Unity building.

"The Telstra Awards Judges praised the business for its strong, year on year financial improvement over many years, its sustaining vision of growth and the founder's staff retention mantra that leadership is about taking care of your clinicians and they in turn will take care of your customers," Mr Irving said.

More than $800,000 in prizes will be shared by winners of the 2014 state, territory and national Telstra Business Awards - a program that has celebrated Australian small and medium businesses since 1992.

Winners of the 2014 Telstra Victorian Business Awards announced tonight at Crown Melbourne are:

Telstra Victorian Business of the Year

Smile Solutions, Melbourne

Start-Up Award

Crisp Creative Salad, Melbourne

Shey Newitt and Ted Tolfree ploughed their life savings and a bank loan into a niche business offering affordable, quality and healthy fast food prepared at the point of order for young professionals working in Melbourne's CBD. Crisp Creative Salad started trading in April 2013 and now operates in two prime CBD locations with 31 staff. Telstra Judges said the couple identified a market need and developed an innovative product to address it. With robust business management and risk management systems, the business has strong values and ethics evident through staff behaviour, rewards and product and supplier selection.

Micro Business Award

URBAN ESCAPE, Prahran

URBAN ESCAPE is more than just a hair salon. It's a high-end, holistically focused hair and wellness retreat that was named winner of the 2014 Australian Customer Service Achiever Award for Hairdressing. Craig Withers built his dream salon from renewable resources and recycled materials and uses products free of synthetic ingredients or petrochemicals. In 2011, URBAN ESCAPE won the Aveda Green Salon Award. Telstra Judges praised the business owner's unique approach to value and service and his high commitment to the industry and the community.

Small Business Award

NSR Australia, Cheltenham

Sports scouting agency NSR Soccer Australia was created in June 2006 by former professional soccer player Marco Maisano. In 2013 NSR expanded from recruiting and promoting soccer players to include golfers and basketballers. Today, NSR Australia specialises in promoting student athletes in Australia and New Zealand to American Colleges. Awards Judges said the business had a positive involvement in the development of young Australians, good projected revenue growth from its new and existing product lines, and a strong relationship with industry bodies.

Medium Business Award

Smile Solutions, Melbourne

Regional Award

The Enchanted Adventure Garden, Arthurs Seat

When Sally and Michael Savage discovered 12 hectares of farmland for sale on Victoria's Mornington Peninsula, they launched their dream of building a garden, maze and tea house. Today, The Enchanted Adventure Garden claims to host the largest tube slide facility in Australia, a thrilling 3D indoor maze, and a tree surfing course. Telstra Judges said it was a financially secure and soundly managed business that has invested significantly in new attractions and created a unique attraction for family enjoyment, adventure and fun. Its owners were committed to staff training and showed outstanding leadership and vision.

Winners of the Telstra Victorian Business Awards progress to the Telstra Australian Business Awards which will be announced in Melbourne on 7 August. For more information about the Award winners, or to nominate for the 2015 Telstra Australian Business Awards, visit telstrabusinessawards.com

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