Corporate Travel Management founder Jamie Pherous
Corporate Travel Management founder Jamie Pherous

Our rich list gets richer ... and richer

JAMIE Pherous's fortune has exploded by more than $400 million in a decade, but the Queensland entrepreneur reckons he has barely got going yet.

Corporate Travel Management, the firm he founded in 1994, is now the sixth largest travel company in the world.

"It's a great little story for a Brisbane company that started with two staff," he said.

But Mr Pherous says they still had under one per cent of a US $1.4 trillion global market. "We have such a long way to go yet," he said.

"That's the exciting part."

The 50-year-old is one of the leading success stories over the past 10 years since we first ranked the state's wealthiest people in the Queensland's Top 100 Rich List.

Back then, his personal wealth sat at about $40 million. Today, it is conservatively estimated at more than $445 million.

That's a 1012 per cent leap - far and away the fastest growth of anyone on the list.

To put it in context, if someone earning the average annual full-time salary of $63,000 in 2008 had enjoyed the same rate of increase, they would now be taking home $638,000 a year.

Mr Pherous holds more than 20 million shares in Corporate Travel Management, which has been one of the best-performing stocks on the ASX over recent years.

Coming on to the market at $1 a share in September 2010, they are now worth about $21 each.

His fortune would have been even greater - it peaked at more than $630 million in September - before the company was targeted by short sellers which resulted in a price dip from $29.

"We always saw there was a big gap globally for a blend of personalised service and great technology and that's been borne out," he said.

The firm now has more than 2000 staff and services in 70 countries.

Despite the growth, he says the business has remained "really level-headed" and empowers staff to make decisions quickly and retain the agility of a small business.

Mr Pherous travels about 100 days a year but says he has never considered moving the headquarters from Brisbane.

"I still think it's the best place in the world to raise a family," he said.

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He and his wife Louise recently bought an $11.3 million block of riverfront land at New Farm to build a futuristic mansion, including nine-car garage and a gymnasium.

He says family life with five sons keeps him grounded.

Don Meij, the big cheese at Domino's, has enjoyed the next largest proportionate growth in wealth - up 266 per cent over the decade from $30 million to $110 million.

His earnings alone last year alone topped $37 million.

Four Rich Listers have joined the billionaires club over the decade.

They include the Wagner family, whose entrepreneurial achievements include funding and building Wellcamp Airport just outside Toowoomba.

Mining magnate Chris Wallin has enjoyed the biggest growth in dollar terms, adding $1.05 billion to reach $1.6b.

Brisbane businessman Brian Flannery's canny joint purchase of a power station from the New South Wales government helped double his fortune.

And the continued expansion of the Greater Springfield city-within-a-city saw Maha Sinnathamby's wealth jump 122 per cent. Partner Bob Sharpless enjoyed a similar rate of growth on his quarter stake in the company.

Super Amart furniture chain founder-turned-developer John Van Lieshout is closing in on the $2 billion mark, having added $600 million since 2008.

Flight Centre co-founder and managing director Graham "Skroo" Turner has seen his personal wealth more than double from $304 million to $670 million.

Miner Sam Chong, who has branched into hotel development, built his fortune by more than half a billion dollars.

Gold Coasters Tony and Christina Quinn have almost tripled their wealth to $580, first from VIP Petfoods then Darrell Lea confectionary, which they sold to private equity in January.

In August, 61-year-old motorsports fanatic Mr Quinn revealed he was buying northern NSW beef jerky producer New World Foods.

And Reg and Hazel Rowe, who started the Supercheap Auto chain by selling mail-order motor accessories from their home garage, lifted their wealth from $277 million to $448 million during the decade, thanks mainly to their shares in the Super Retail group which now also includes BCF and Rebel outlets.