EASTPACK WINS BIG – Kiwifruit company takes out coveted Tauranga business award

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Wave co-founder Glenn Dougal accepts the corporate sponsorship accolade.
Major New Zealand post-harvest operator EastPack had a productive night at the recent Westpac Tauranga Business Awards 2019.

The company picked up four awards in total, including the ACC Workplace Health and Safety award, the Business Innovation award, the Manufacturing and Distribution award, and the supreme award of Tauranga Business of the Year 2019.

Delighted chief executive Hamish Simson said each of the awards would have been a great achievement in its own right. “But we were delighted and humbled to be recognised across so many categories and to get the big prize at the end of the night,” he said.

The Corporate Leadership award went to RoboticsPlus, a smart hi-tech company founded by Steve Saunders, with robotics expert Dr Alistair Scarfe. The company emerged from the need to solve the growing challenges in the global primary industries such as labour shortages, sustainability for growers, pollination gaps and yield security.

Matt Cowley, chief executive of the Tauranga Chamber of Commerce, introducing this year’s Westpac Tauranga Awards.

And the Corporate Sponsorship Award this year was won by WAVE Creative Communications Agency because of the company’s strong ethic for giving back.  While not a big company, right from initial employment, staff are encouraged to give back through their time and expertise. The owners strongly support the philosophy, said WAVE director Glenn Dougal (pictured right), in accepting the award.

Matt Cowley, chief executive of the Tauranga Chamber of Commerce, the longtime organiser of the Westpac Tauranga Business Awards, said this year saw increased numbers of entrants.

RoboticsPlus, winners of the Corporate Leadership Award,

There was a very high standard, making the selection of winners and finalists a very challenging prospect for the judges, but one that bodes well for business in the Bay, he said.

And again this year there was a strong focus on technology, particularly in the kiwifruit sector, which appeared to be innovating constantly and becoming world-leading in technology.

Clare Basire, area commercial manager for main sponsor Westpac, said the awards had always been about taking time out to acknowledge business excellence.

“Westpac are extremely proud to be associated with an event that recognises outstanding business achievement, both here in Tauranga, and across New Zealand.

Emerging Business Award winners Collab Digital.

“This is about recognising the smartest, strongest and most sustainable businesses in the community,” she told the capacity crowd at the Trustpower Baypark.

“Congratulations to the 2019 Westpac Tauranga Business Awards winners – we’re sure this is a stepping stone to even greater business success.”

Head Judge Andrew Hitchfield, speaking on behalf of the judges, said: “With a high number of extremely strong entrants, it is challenging to select the winner, but a challenge the judges really enjoy.

“Going into people’s business across the bay and seeing the way they are conducting business is very rewarding. There was a higher quality of innovation showcased in various forms, some making business easier to do, others with new and interesting products, services and business models.  Another aspect was the younger business people doing business differently, and standing out with their passion and ambition.”

The strength of the Awards rests upon the high calibre of judges who all put in hours of time and expertise to visit each entrant.  Their feedback on their assessment is regarded as one of the strong benefits to entering the awards.

EastPack’s winning ways

This year’s overall win for EastPack came as the company moves closer to its goal of increasing fruit volumes to more than 50 million trays in the next five years. It is n track, having doubled throughput from 19 million trays in 2012 to 41 million trays in 2018.

EastPack has also celebrated a number of industry firsts in recent years including the opening of the industry’s first fully automated lights-out coolstore in May.  EastPack is focused on building people, plant and process capability to maintain performance and employee engagement during rapid industry growth.

“EastPack is proud to be part of this business community and with our people, culture and enthusiasm for our industry, we will help keep this region a great place to live and work,” said chief executive Hamish Simson.

“I would like to thank our team for their passion and hard work that has enabled us all to get EastPack to where we are today. This is a celebration of how far we have come in the last few years, and gives us confidence that we have the team, culture and ability to make the exciting future ahead of us a great success.”

All the judges for EastPack were really impressed with the overall way the company does business, how they had amalgamated with fellow packhouse company Satara,  and that they knew they needed to make huge changes within their business. They did so by using all the innovation they could to make them business leaders in their field, the judges said.

EastPack’s journey to change their health and safety culture over the last few years was also something the judges could not look past.

“They did not demonstrate mere compliance, but that they are a leader within their industry. Of the many things they have implemented it includes some technology solutions to eliminate people and forklift interaction risk by use of stacking robot and an automated storage and retrieval warehouse system, improved forklift training and assessment process and investigating new areas of risk that has not previously been considered such as conducting research into the combustibility of gold kiwifruit dust.”

The company had also made significant reductions in discomfort pain and injury (DPI) to their workers by having a dedicated FTE over their peak season to work on this industry wide issue, and improving awareness amongst staff with training, two hourly worker checks and decals and signage throughout with DPI messages in multiple languages.

“This, however, could not be achieved if they had not worked with all levels of the business, giving them the training and confidence to be empowered to make and be involved in health and safety decisions.”

The Corporate sponsorship Award this year was won by WAVE Creative Communications Agency, which demonstrated a very strong ethic for giving back.

Innovators RoboticsPlus

The business recognised for their Corporate Leadership this year was RoboticsPlus.  The company emerged from the need to solve the growing challenges in the global primary industries such as: labour shortages, sustainability for growers, pollination gaps and yield security.

Robotics Plus Ltd was established by Steve Saunders and robotics expert Dr Alistair Scarfe, and is led by chief executive Matt Glen. The company is focused on developing Mechanisation, Automation, Robotics and Sensor (MARS) technologies for horticulture and other primary industries.

RoboticsPlus employs a modern technological approach to automation using advanced computer based design, embedded control systems and modern manufacturing processes that have enabled them to develop several world first technologies and deliver efficient solutions across a range of engineering disciplines.

Other winners included:

Social Enterprise Award

The category, won by the Acorn Foundation, recognises management excellence in “not-for-profit” organisations and those outside of the private sector. Acorn Foundation is well established and has been offering far-reaching support services throughout their local community in the Western Bay of Plenty region since 2003.

Judges said its structure enabled the foundation to be effective and efficient in distributing a significant amount of funds, entrusted to Acorn by donors, to help a wide range of suitable charity organisations.

Through its unique business model, Acorn Foundation has created a number of innovative giving programmes to attract donations that they, in turn, distribute to those most in need, or to nominated organisations as directed by donors.

Acorn has systems in place to ensure that money donated is spent appropriately by the recipient charity and they even train recipients in budget planning if required.

Due to the foundation’s high level of engagement within their community, it is able to gather valuable information and use this to help influence debates in the political arena. They objectively offer a variety of positive suggestions for solutions to a range of problems, caused by poverty for example, that affect the Tauranga community directly, such as “Housing the Homeless”.

Pete Wales (left) and David Porter (right) from Bay of Plenty Business News, sponsor of the Retail Excellence Award, won by Fashion Island, represented by centre manager Roz Irwin and Brett Williams, Comac Retail Property Group.

Through its website, Acorn is also effective in promoting a number of charity organisations to the local market, such as Women’s Refuge, making them a truly worthy recipient of the Social Enterprise award.

Emerging Business 

Winner of the Emerging Business Award Collab is a modern, fast-moving, social media marketing company that also specialises in high-quality videography and photography, the judges said.

The judges were impressed by the acceleration of their financial growth over the last 3 years tripling their turnover. Unlike many early-stage companies the company had already established who they are in the market,  point of difference and already had a large number of repeat customers.

“The team is young and driven by the steadfast vision and focus of the owner Brent Ireland. Collab also provides social media training and has had held over 40 training events hosting 6200 attendees to date.”

Within its content lab, Colab had a strategic team that worked very closely with the customer to create pinpoint messaging to the right audience through the right digital channel, judges said. The team was also very supportive to local charities like the Western Bay Disability Support Trust and gave up their time and expertise for free.

Tourism and Hospitality

While Good Local Pyes Pa took out this award last year, the judges were impressed with the continued improvement made in the business over the past 12 months.

One of Tauranga’s top Bar and restaurants according to Trip Advisor, and finalists last year in the Hospitality New Zealand Awards, Goodlocal has in a short amount of time well and truly put “themselves out there as a front-runner in Tauranga’s competitive gastro scene, judges said.

“The ethos of ‘love your customer’ runs through the life blood of this business. With experienced operators Mark and Melissa at the helm and strong staff involvement their business performance is solid, well-executed and entrenched in local market initiatives, which sets this business apart.

“In a highly saturated industry it can be difficult to stand out from your peers, so Good Local Pyes Pa can be very proud of their positioning in the marketplace.”

Westpac Tauranga Business Awards 2019

Westpac Tauranga Business of the Year 2019
WINNER: EastPack Ltd

Lysaght Consultants Ltd
Tika Interiors

Corporate Leadership
WINNER: RoboticsPlus

Corporate Sponsorship
WINNER: Wave Agency
Finalists:  Trustpower

Manufacturing &/or Distribution 
WINNER: EastPack Ltd
Bake Shack
Archway Group

Tourism & Hospitality
WINNER: Good Local Pyes Pa
Manaaki Tours
Eagle Ridge

Service Excellence
WINNER: Liz van Welie Aquatics
Highly commended: LL Wedding & Event Hire
The Babysitters Club Ltd
Bureta Physiotherapy
The Relocatable House Company

Customer Experience Award
WINNER: Bake Shack
Highly commended: LL Wedding & Event Hire
Eagle Ridge
The Relocatable House Company 

Sustainable Business
WINNERThe Kollective
Highly commendedWhy Waste

Retail Excellence
WINNER: Fashion Island
Finalists: Bake Shack

Social Enterprise 
WINNER: Acorn Foundation
Highly commended: Tauranga Volunteer Coastguard
Finalists: House of Science NZ

Emerging Business
WINNER: Collab Digital
Liv Light
The Babysitters Club

Business Innovation 
WINNER: EastPack Ltd
House of Science NZ
Lysaght Consultants Ltd
The Babysitters Club Ltd

Digital & Technology Innovation
WINNER: Proppy
EastPack Ltd
The Babysitters Club Ltd

ACC Workplace
WINNER: Eastpack Ltd
Lysaght Consultants Ltd
Tika Interiors

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