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Central West Queensland since 1923
Central West Queensland

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15 October, 2020

Stefan OAM 'cut his teeth' in Longreach

BRISBANE business titan, Stefan Ackerie, began his venture into the hairdressing industry in Longreach, and now his tireless work has paid off, recently being honoured as a member of the Order of Australia in the General Division (OAM).

By Hamish Hart

Cutting the mould…Stefan Ackerie credits his time in Longreach as one of the major reasons for his national success in hairdressing.

Mr Ackerie was presented his OAM by Queensland Governor, His Excellency, The Honourable Paul de Jersey AC at Government House earlier this month.

Since emigrating from his home country of Lebanon in the mid-1950s at age 15, Stefan founded, and owns, about 50 hair salons across Queensland and New South Wales as well as popular Brisbane CBD eatery, Jo-Jo’s Restaurant.

Mr Ackerie said it had been a tremendous honour to be recognised for his decades of work.

“It is a great feeling knowing that anyone in any trade can reach this level of success,” he said. “It was a surreal feeling to receive the honour and it’s still surreal to think about now.

“It is an incredible privilege knowing that no matter where you come from, you can achieve anything.”

The multi-business owner made his hairdressing start in 1964 where he operated a hair salon in Longreach located in the Merino Arcade, helping to push the Outback town’s hair-do attitude.

Mr Ackerie said he loved his time in Longreach as he recalled many highlights that occurred on a week-to-week basis.

“Longreach was a remarkable time in my life,” he said. “It was no different than anywhere else. People treated you as you treated them, and I always treated people with respect.

“In the 1960s the town was alive with so many wonderful families and people, and there was an aura of main city activity with the Commercial.

“One of the many thrills was on Sundays when we would see how fast we could drive on the Ilfracombe Rd. It’s not something we would do today and it definitely depended on which way the wind blew.

“The town has incredible history and I’m proud to still have so many connections there. I’ve always said that Qantas and I have one thing in common ­— all great things start in Longreach.”

Mr Ackerie said highlights throughout his more than 50-year career had been appearing on Channel Nine’s 60 Minutes, winning Employer of the Year six years in a row, and being a finalist in the 2004 Australian of the Year awards.

As an immigrant from the Middle East, Mr Ackerie said it had been an honour to be a role model for those who believed they are restricted by their location, thanking his team members and partner, Rose King, for being there during his journey.

“When I was a young boy in Lebanon, someone visiting from the United State said they had owned eight salons. I told them ‘I’ll have 10’,” Mr Ackerie said. “It doesn’t matter where you come from, whether it’s Longreach or London, you can achieve success.

“The price of success is a price you pay in advance, and when you are 100 per cent committed, you will only see the end result.

“Thank you to my partner and general manager, Rose King, who manages our company and attends to all the daily demands of our clients and our 400 staff members. She is a remarkable lady, you can only imagine what she has to do.

“Thank you to all the great people who helped our company get and stay here. We have trained in excess of 10,000 hairdressers and they’ve played a role in our success.

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