WITH 460 people in attendance, the 2016 Horizon Business Excellence Awards celebrated the innovation, success and leadership of Whakatane’s business community at the Whakatane War Memorial Centre on Saturday.

Twenty-four businesses were nominated for the awards held every second year.

The Horizon Supreme Business Award winner was Kawerau’s Mainstream Engineering, which also won the Excellence in Large Business Award.

They were also joint winners of the Excellence in Innovation Award with The Wrangler.

Mainstream Engineering owners Dianne and Darrin Hawkes attributed their success to the strength of their experienced employees.

“Our people are what makes our business. Dianne and I are driving the business but we get a lot of advice and we listen to that,” Mr Hawkes said.

He said it was especially gratifying to be recognised as the pair had put much effort into growing the business. They had recently opened an office in Christchurch and had hired a new employee to cover their Auckland operations.

“Winning these awards is definitely a milestone for us, and good recognition for the work Dianne and I have done.

“We’ve been through a growth strategy and will be able to use this as leverage for the next phase,” he said.

Many of the nominees said they found the judging process rigorous.

A panel of eight business and economics specialists from University of Waikato Management School chose the winners during a three-day deliberation process that included a battery of interviews with the nominees.

Professor Howard Davey, from the University of Waikato, said there were a number of achievements that put Mainstream Engineering at the top.

“The focus on the value of their engineers and the knowledge that they bring to the organisation is clearly transferred to adding value for their clients, which stems from their adaptability and flexibility compared with their competitors,” he said.

Mr Hawkes said the process, despite being demanding, was an eye opener.

“We got a lot out of this process. It helped us understand who we are as a business,” he said.

The evening’s top winner for individual achievement went to Ohope Top 10 Holiday Park co-owner Janine Maguire.

Mrs Maguire won the Leadership Award for her accomplishments in employee relations.

She said it might not be necessary to have a leadership programme but it made a difference for employees and customers.

“I chose to become involved and take [the business] to the next step,” she said.

The business hired over 50 employees during the busy season.

Mrs Maguire said her leadership style allowed each employee to feel important.

“The principal thing with my leadership role is that I’m just part of the team.

“We can’t succeed without them, and I think they know that. They soon cotton on that each one of us is just as important as the other.

“I think that’s why we get so many repeat staff,” she said.

2016 Horizon Business Excellence Awards winners and runners-up

  • Best Emerging/New Business Award:
    Eastern Bay Chiropractic
  • Highly commended: Stage Door
    Performing Arts Academy & Diverse
    Graphics
  • Excellence in Business – Small Business
    Award: High Profile Enterprises
  • Highly commended: BullsEye Productions
    NZ; Limited & Columbus Coffee Whakatane;
  • Excellence in Business – Medium Business
    Award: The Wrangler
  • Highly commended: Whakatane Office
    Products Depot
  • Excellence in Business – Large Business
    Award: Mainstream Engineering Ltd
  • Highly commended: Extreme Boats and
    Nicholson Autos
  • Emerging Young Leader of the Year Award:
    Patrick O’Sullivan – White Island Tours
  • Excellence in Sustainable Practices Awards
    Joint Winners: Awakeri Rail Adventures and
    Trident High School
  • Highly commended: White Island and New
    Zealand Manuka Group
  • Employer of the Year – Work and Life
    Balance Award: New Zealand Manuka Group
  • Excellence in Innovation Award
    Joint Winners: Mainstream Engineering and
    The Wrangler
  • Highly commended: Nicholson Autos and
    New Zealand Manuka Group
  • Supreme Business of the Year Award:
    Mainstream Engineering
  • Leadership Award: Janine Maguire: Ohope
    Top 10 Holiday Park
  • Business Entrepreneur Award: Hurricane
    Hunia, Kotuku Systems
  • Economic Development Award: Horizon
    Energy Group

Source: Whakatane Beacon