Caravan Industry Award winners, recognising outstanding contribution to the sector at 2021 National Conference


A night of nights for the caravan industry, celebrating the incredible dedication of individuals and organisations to industry through the announcement of seven prestigious award recipients. The awards included the industry’s highest award- the Eric Hayman Award for Excellence as well as the Richard Davis OAM Award, Chairman’s Award, Gerry Ryan OAM Award for Innovation and RV Boss Future Leaders Award that collectively recognise outstanding contribution to the industry, to the association and to the future of the industry.

The celebration of these worthy recipients was enjoyed by over 500 delegates who attended the 2021 Caravan Industry National Conference Gala Dinner on Thursday 6 May at RACV Royal Pines on the Gold Coast.

Eric Hayman Award for Excellence

The Eric Hayman Award for Excellence is our industry’s most prestigious award. The award recognises extremely influential and hardworking industry leaders who have made a positive impact over the years.

Eric Hayman Award for Excellence Winner 2020Peter Buttigieg

Award recipient Peter Buttigieg with Ron Chapman

The Australian caravan park industry has much to thank Peter for because at a time when no one wanted to embrace computers or software and maintained their love affair with “the book”, he battled on. He was a visionary for his time and proved that informed decisions and office efficiencies could not be made properly without access to data.

Between 2003 and today, RMS has established offices in the UK, North America, China, India and Singapore. Starting as a one office business, 7-8 employees and a handful of customers, they now employ over 200 who maintain 6,000 clients in 30 countries.

The success of thousands of businesses around the world was made possible by the pioneering work performed by Peter Buttigieg and the teams he assembled.

Eric Hayman Award for Excellence Winner 2019Geoff Olholm

Geoff and his wife Jenny celebrate the achievement

The Australian Caravan Parks Industry will long be indebted to Geoff Olholm for his contribution to its ongoing development.

Cairns Coconut Caravan Village opened to caravan travellers at Easter 1987 and for the next 30 years it continued to innovate, push boundaries and grow into what is regarded by many as Australia’s best caravan park, receiving many allocates and awards.

He was to the forefront of the ‘battle’ with the motoring clubs’ Star Ratings system which had been based on what the Clubs thought a park should be rather than what the market was looking for.

Geoff and his wife, Jenny, sold Cairns Coconut holiday resort four years ago however they are still highly sought for advice by other park owners and managers who recognise them as some of the best operators in the industry.

Richard Davis OAM Award

The Richard Davis OAM Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Peak National Body.

Richard Davis OAM Award 2021RMS

RMS has been a long term industry supporter cutting their teeth in caravan parks, and despite their huge international success, continue to be true to the caravan park industry that they love.

RMS have been a national industry sponsor of the national industry body and attended the national industry conference every year from its first origins over 25 years ago.

They have assisted the association in the development of their internal computer systems and were the first to assist with the collection of caravan park data which is now the envy of many other tourism associations.

They are passionate about the industry and been an enormous support for the association over many decades. 

Chairman’s Award

Each year we have the option of awarding or not awarding a Chairman’s Award for service to the industry. In 2021 we had the honour to award two worthy recipients the Chairman’s award for outstanding contributions to the caravan and camping industry.

Chairman’s Award 2020 The Hon Greg Hunt MP

Award accepted by Angie Bell MP and presented by Chairman Grant Wilckens

This was awarded to the Minister for Health, The Hon Greg Hunt MP, in recognition of his contribution to the Caravan Industry Association of Australia initiative to provide a Defibrillator subsidy program, which has so far saved two lives across the country thanks to the federal government support through $1 million investment.

Chairman’s Award 2020Theo Whitmont

Award accepted by Norton Whitmont and presented by Chairman Grant Wilckens

Theo has owned and operated industry leading holiday parks in NSW and QLD for 20 years. He has a deep operating knowledge of the ‘coal face’ and has a demonstrated ability to interpret a business from the consumer’s view and thus navigate the ever changing demands that are placed upon small business in the tourism arena.   He is always willing to lend an ear and is sensitive to needs of park owners, community operators and those involved in the wholesale, retail and manufacturing sectors of the industry.

He has over 30 years experience operating manufactured home estates and has been the lead industry consultant to the NSW Government in relation to industry reform and legislative change, particularly with regard to the Residential (Land Lease) Communities Act 2013 and Regulation.

Theo was first elected to the Board of CCIA NSW in 2008 and later served as the President of the Association between 2009 and 2020.  He continues his commitment to our industry as a current serving member of the Board.

Gerry Ryan OAM Award for Innovation

Celebrating the implementation of creative ideas in order to generate value.  Value can be measured in increased revenue, cost savings, efficiency gains, or social improvement such as safety.

Gerry Ryan OAM Award for Innovation 2020Pedders Suspension and Brakes

David Schneiders from Pedders Suspension and Brakes accepting the award from Gerry Ryan OAM

Congratulations to the team at Pedders Suspension and Brakes for the important recognition of their innovation with the LoadRyder Onboard Scales.

Pedders LoadRyder Onboard Scales are a cost-effective solution that delivers critical real-time vehicle weight information to the operator, enhancing safety and compliance for all road users.

RV Boss Future Leaders Award

The Future Leaders Award recognises and rewards dedication and outstanding achievements from the industry’s up and comers.

RV Boss Future Leaders Award 2021Justin Hales

Justin Hales, Camplify receiving the award from Luke Trouchet CEO of RV Boss

Justin founded Camplify in 2015 after identifying the need for localised sharing of assets to benefit both owners and hirers of RVs.  He has led innovation at Camplify to become the biggest RV rental company and digital platform in Australia. Since its origin ,Justin has also expanded internationally and has since scaled to 3 additional countries.

Over the past 5 years Camplify, has been building a brand, a community and growing the Camplify platform to generate revenue and expand the customer base.