Gold Coast Business Hall of Fame

Each year the Gold Coast Business Excellence Awards inducts one business person into the Gold Coast's Business Hall of Fame.

The inductees are people who have made significant contributions to the Gold Coast economy and have helped shaped the city into the prosperous business centre that it is today.

Our Hall of Fame Members are:

2023 - John Menzies AM

Gold Coast tourism industry icon John Menzies AM has been inducted into the Gold Coast Business Hall of Fame.

Mr Menzies, who held leadership roles with the Gold Coast theme parks for 43 years before his retirement, was honoured for his business contribution to the city at the Gold Coast Business Excellence Awards gala held at The Star on Saturday 2nd December.

The former competitive water skier started work on the Gold Coast as the marketing and PR manager for Keith Williams’ water ski attraction at The Spit. Mr Williams and Mr Menzies started a dolphin show to compete with their nearby rival Marine Land, moved a replica of the Endeavour to the site, built a lighthouse and a few other attractions. Sea World was started.

Mr Menzies was soon appointed Sea World general manager and was a driving force behind the expansion of Sea World and also developed the idea for the adjacent 400-room Sea World Nara Resort, which opened in 1988.

2022 - Paul Donovan AM

Gold Coast tourism industry icon Paul Donovan has been inducted into the Gold Coast Business Hall of Fame.

Mr Donovan, who has held senior positions at Gold Coast airport since 2005 and was chairman of Destination Gold Coast for 17 years, was honoured for his business contribution to the city at the Gold Coast Business Excellence Awards gala held at The Star on Saturday 19th November.

More than 650 of the city’s business and political figures were on hand to give Mr Donovan a standing ovation as he accepted the award.

In his role at Gold Coast Airport he has been involved with buying Qantas’ half of the original terminal, completing the first upgrade of the terminal, extending the runway, enhancing the general aviation area, and building up the support infrastructure. He and his teams attracted international airlines including Scoot, Air Asia, JeJu, additional Japanese flights with Jetstar International, Air New Zealand and encouraged Qantas to return to the Gold Coast. He was involved in getting the first direct service with China Southern to the Gold Coast and, one he says he wants to forget, was the direct flight from Wuhan to the Gold Coast, which stopped before the Covid-19 outbreak.

2021 - Dr Soheil Abedian AM

Renowned property identity and philanthropist Soheil Abedian AM has been inducted into the Gold Coast’s Business Hall of Fame.

Mr Abedian was presented with the honour at a black-tie dinner attended by 750 of the city’s leading business and political figures including Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Mayor Tom Tate at The Star on Saturday 20th November.

Mr Abedian was born in March 1949 in Khoramabad, Iran, to a middle-class family.

After finishing school in Tehran, Mr Abedian moved to Austria to study architecture at Graz University and got married. By the age of 21, Mr Abedian was working, studying at university and raising a child.

He says this period in his life really strengthened his character.

2020 - James Frizelle

Renowned Gold Coast car dealer, property investor and philanthropist James Frizelle and 2020 Hall of Fame Inductee.

Mr Frizelle was born into a working-class family in Sydney on the 16th of January 1934. At that time Australia was battling through the Great Depression.

He left school at 14 and started a five-year mechanic's apprenticeship in a large Sydney Holden dealership, WT Coggins, Five Dock.

Mr Frizelle was first introduced to the Gold Coast as a teenager when he joined his mates for a series of camping trips. They would camp at Burleigh Heads and spent their time surfing.

At the age of 20, as soon as he finished his apprenticeship, our inductee started work as a mechanic with his uncle and soon after started working as a mechanic from his parents' home.


2019 - Frank Goldstein

Prominent Gold Coast businessman Frank Goldstein has been inducted into the city's Business Hall of Fame.

Mr Goldstein, whose family owned business Goldsteins Bakery has 12 outlets on the Gold Coast and employs more than 100 people, is the 14th person to be inducted in the Hall of Fame, which is run by the Gold Coast Business Excellence Awards.

Born in 1943, Mr Goldstein left school at the age of 14 to work full-time in his family's business, which was then named Continental Cakes. Mr Goldstein and his brother John took over the operation of the business in 1962  when their father died from as a result of complications from diabetes.

The brothers then decided to rebrand their business, which was based in Surfers Paradise, to Goldsteins Bakery.

As more shopping centres opened across the Gold Coast, the Goldsteins opened more and more stores.

The company now has 125 employees working across 12 Gold Coast outlets, all of them company owned.


2018 - Terry Morris

Terry Morris, the founder of Carrara Markets and Sirromet Wines, has been inducted into the Gold Coast Business Hall of Fame.

Mr Morris, who heads up the Ashmore headquartered Morris International, is the 12th person to be inducted in the Hall of Fame, which is run by the Gold Coast Business Excellence Awards.

Mr Morris was born in Victoria and owned a successful insurance business in the La Trobe Valley before moving to the Gold Coast in 1976.

Mr Morris started his Queensland operations in Nerang Street, Southport and quickly built up the insurance business. He then successfully ran for election to the Albert Shire Council.

It was while he was at a dinner party, that he heard that Victorians were being slugged more money for cigarettes than Queenslanders. He saw a big business opportunity. He advertised in Victorian papers, offering to sell Queensland cigarettes to Victorians via mail order. The response from Victorian smokers was incredible and it started our hero in a whole new business.

Today Terry's business employs more than 500 people in a wide range of enterprises.


2017 - Desmond Brooks AM

Renowned international architect Desmond Brooks has become the 11th person inducted into the Gold Coast Business Hall of Fame.

Mr Brooks and the company he founded were behind the designs of some of the Gold Coast's most amazing landmarks. They include Sheraton Marina Mirage, Palazzo Versace, Royal Pines Resort, Marriott Surfers Paradise Resort, Gold Coast International Hotel, The Wave, Soul, Ultra, Jewel, Verve, and Sierra Grand.

Born in Melbourne in 1931, Mr Brooks received his big break in Hollywood while embarking on an extended honeymoon with wife,Pauline, after finishing his architecture degree.

In summing up his career, Desmond says the secret of his success is to simply: "Just have fun. You have to want to come into work. If it's not fun, don't do it."


2016 - Norm Rix

Norm Rix is Gold Coast developer, shopping centre owner and former councillor.

Born in Southport in 1935, he grew up poor. The property identity got his big break when he started working for real estate agent Laurie Wall, who was known nationally as Mr Millions.

At the age of 26 Mr Rix successfully launched his own real estate agency in Southport but finding houses to sell was becoming increasingly difficult. So Mr Rix teamed up with three friends to build spec homes. That was the start of his development career. He has built hundreds of homes since. He then expanded into apartment buildings, residential subdivisions and commercial developments.

Norm's personal motto is that the harder he works, the luckier he gets.


2015 - Jock McIlwain OAM

Jock McIlwain OAM, was a Gold Coast engineer, businessman, former councillor and philanthropist.

Mr McIlwain, who is referred to as the patriarch of Gold Coast canal development, was involved in designing and building many of the waterways that the city is now famous for.

During the 1970s and 1980s, Mr McIlwain became a major developer and was responsible for many Gold Coast and State canal developments. He was responsible for the development of great parts of the suburbs of Mermaid Waters, Broadbeach Waters and the areas surrounding Jupiters Casino where he built the first Gold Coast town-houses.

Mr McIlwain considers his "greatest engineering and business achievement" is the "Waterway Wonderland" that is Mermaid Waters.


2014 - Bruce Lynton

Car dealership owner, Bruce Lynton, whose Bruce Lynton Prestige Automotive business now spreads across more than 10 different operations, was first set up on the Gold Coast 40 years ago.

The prestige automotive group that Mr Lynton first set up as a second hand car business at a service station in Southport, now has 10 motoring brands under its umbrella.

This includes the Gold Coast dealerships for Jaguar, MINI, Land Rover, Alfa Romeo, Fiat, Chery Tata and Ssangyong.


2013 - Bill Barry-Cotter

Renowned Australian boat builder Bill Barry Cotter created, grew and then sold the Mariner and Riviera boat companies.

Now in his 70s, the Southport-dwelling boating entrepreneur now owns the expanding Maritimo luxury crusing yacht company.

The Coomera-headquartered company now has more than 100 employees and exports around the world.


2012 - John Longhurst

Serial entrepreneur John Longhurst is best known on the Gold Coast for being the man behind Dreamworld.

In 1973, he bought 85 hectares of land at Coomera, at the northern end of the city. He moved to the city in 1976 and set to work building the theme park, mostly by himself.

Dreamworld opened its doors for the first time on December 15, 1981 and it proved to be an instant hit.

By 1989, Dreamworld was receiving more than one million visits a year.


2011 - Gordon Merchant

Gordon Merchant and his then wife Rena started a clothing company on their kitchen table in 1973.

That company, Billabong, grew and grew to become an international giant.

The company is now listed on the Australian Stock Exchange and is one of Australia's best known brands.


2010 - Max Christmas AM

Real estate supremo Max Chrismas was known by the media throughout Australia as Mr Gold Coast.

During the five years from 1985, Mr Christmas introduced over $3 billion worth of property investment in Australia to Japanese investors alone.

These property transactions included four International Hotels on the Gold Coast and three golf course developments.

He was also involved deals that led to the development and/or extension of Sanctuary Cove, Sea World, Hamilton Island, Marina Mirage, Bond University and Warner Brothers Movie World.


2009 - Paula Stafford

Paula Stafford was running a small business in the 1950s which started by taking clothing orders on the beach at Surfers Paradise.

It soon grew and before long she  had established Fiesta Toggs Pty Ltd employing 35 machinists in Cavill Ave Surfers Paradise.

It was Paulas sporty summer outfits in particular known only as 2 piece outfits -  that gained good popularity for tourists on the beaches of the Gold Coast. 

They gained even more popularity after a beach inspector said they were "too brief", which started a public argument that generated extensive publicity.

Bikinis - as they were later called - became a hit.  Before Paula knew it she was operating two clothing factories, had about 65 people on staff and worked 18 hours a day supplying 400 shops around Australia.


2008 - Keith Williams

Keith Williams brought Australian tourism into the modern age with his development of the Sea World and Hamilton Island resorts.

A former Australian water ski champion, he started the Surfers Pardise Ski Gardens on the Nerang River in the 1950s.

In 1971 he opened the immensely popular Sea World theme park on The Spit before selling it and developing the Hamilton Island Resort.


2007 -  Jim Raptis

High-rise developer Jim Raptis has changed the Gold Coast skyline for more than 30 years.

The Raptis Group of Companies have built some of the Gold Coasts most significant architectural  landmarks including the Towers of Chevron Renaissance in Surfers Paradise.

Mr Raptis, the chairman and founder of the Raptis Group, first entered property development in Sydney in 1967, and then moved to the Gold Coast in the mid-1970s.

Mr Raptis continued to develop a string of high rises, bringing the total number of Gold Coast tower projects that he had helped design, create and complete to more than 30.


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