Meet the 2017 Category Winners

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Congratulations to the 2017 Category Winners

Five inspiring New Zealand entrepreneurs have taken top position in their respective categories and now compete for national honours at the Entrepreneur Of The Year Awards on Thursday 12 October at the Langham Hotel, Auckland. The overall winner will represent New Zealand at the EY World Entrepreneur Of The Year Awards in Monte Carlo June 2018.

What an impressive list of entrepreneurs! We are delighted by the diversity and calibre of the category winners,” says Anne Norman CNZM, Chair of the independent judging panel.

You can find out more about each of the category winners below.

Peter Cross’s innovative old fashioned values have helped drive a second generation dairying icon.

Peter Cross is proud that in a landscape awash with multinational corporations, Dairyworks stands apart as being a family owned, and operated, enterprise.

Established in 2001 and fuelled by a philosophy known as the 3 Vs—Volume, Velocity and Value—the company has built on the types of innovation that have made New Zealand a world leader in dairy production.

Peter attributes success to the commitment of key staff—many of whom are themselves related—to go above and beyond in their thinking and approach to the business. This has created an environment where boundaries are regularly pushed to achieve goals.

This is evident in many areas from manufacturing to new product development through to acquisitions continuously striving to add value to the business.

The company set up shop in the South Island’s Temuka district after the founders identified a gap in the New Zealand market in terms of retail supply and contract packaging.

They launched the Alpine brand into key supermarket retailers throughout the country. At the same time the company secured its first contract packaging opportunity.

This was followed by the creation of the Foodstuff’s Rolling Meadow brand and the Woolworth/Progressive Signature Range cheese in 2006. Ice cream was later added to the mix with the purchase of the Deep South brand.

Peter drives innovation and creativity via multiple channels with the belief that the next ‘big idea’ could come from anyone. Dairyworks promotes a continuous improvement culture and intentionally maintains a lean, agile and relatively flat organisational structure. Every part of the organisation is encouraged and provided the autonomy to create ideas and make decisions - no idea is ever considered sour.

Peter's vision for the future of Dairyworks is to continue its growth trajectory through innovation and diversification. Quite simply, to become better at what they do, and offer, thanks to people, plant and process.

Old school values and building enduring relationships have helped Peter Harris go global.

In building up a brand with eight offices, spread across 25 countries and with close to 550 employees, in both an entrepreneurial and business sense Peter Harris thrives on risk.

Beginning his career as an accountant for the Fletcher Group, he left the corporate world to pursue export marketing and merchant banking. Peter made his move into the insurance world in 1989 as an executive director of Boston Marks Group.

His next foray into the risk mitigation world came with his participation in the buyout of CBL Corporation. When he took the helm in 2000 the business had two employees and one office.

Under Peter’s leadership CBL has grown, both organically and through acquisition, into an international specialist insurer and reinsurer specialising in credit and financial risk.

CBL has achieved an annual growth rate of 37% over 16 years. Peter led the business through a highly successful IPO in 2015 followed by listing on both the NZX and ASX. This was a first in New Zealand under the new Financial Markets Authority listing rules. In June 2017 the company entered the S&P/NZX50 Index.

Significantly, 98% of revenue is derived from overseas markets. In order to achieve this Peter's sought to build strong partnerships with expert distributors, with proven capability, around the world.

This personal approach, blended with old school values, conquered overcame what could have been a game changing hurdle; namely new partners agreeing to do business with a small specialist insurer from New Zealand that no one had heard of.

Moreover CBL has achieved this growth without a credit rating in the early years, simply because it was trusted.

Going global has required Peter to customise solutions to meet customer needs. The company has further delivered real value to customer transactions by providing intelligent risk capital and technological innovation.

When the earth starts moving Will Lomax has created a way to stop the winery’s liquid assets from going down the drain.

Natural disasters normally destroy businesses. In the case of Will Lomax’s Onguard Group an major earthquake got him moving in a new direction creating the first genuine seismic tank system specifically designed to protect wine tanks from earthquake damage.

It was literally in the middle of a 6.5 magnitude quake in the Marlborough region when the concept bore fruit. Standing next to clients they jointly watched thousands of litres of wine disappear down the drain. Clearly traditional wine tank anchoring systems had given up the ghost.

With a passion for design and engineering he became determined to create, design and develop a better way to protect liquid storage tanks. OnGuard's anchoring system is a patented, globally unique technology using a 'fuse' system that can be easily and quickly reset. This protects tanks during aftershocks thus preserving business continuity and all important market share.

The system can be applied to new tanks, or retro-fitted to existing tanks protecting the business's highest value asset.

Transforming tank design in an industry bound by tradition was never going to be easy. Many were trapped by the gravitational pull of the familiar and were thwarted by Will's audacious design.

Ironically the ‘disruption’ came with another seismic event and the real time/real life technology test during the 2016 Kaikoura earthquake. The system performed exactly as intended, protecting over 50 million litres of wine, whereas traditionally designed wine tanks again suffered major damage.

As a result, most Marlborough wineries decided to repair or replace their damaged tanks using Onguard. From there the business has shaken up the competition around New Zealand and more recently in California. Other earthquake prone wine producing regions are on the radar.

New ideas and technology will continue to break new ground. One example is the development of a seismic barrel storage system to provide protection to stacked barrels.

With cyber crime on the rise Andy Prow has unleashed a security arsenal destined to keep bad people away from vulnerable things.

In global IT circles Andy Prow has achieved something of a super hero status as the driving force behind RedShield, a full SaaS solution providing a global platform. His aim is to protect and shield high-value enterprise web applications from unforeseen, and unwanted, attack.

As a computer science engineer with a Hons Degree, meshed with Taekwondo martial arts training, Andy’s technological techniques are founded on the premise of ‘Shield First, Then Remediate’.

It is a philosophy that is finding favour among a diverse client and partner base including the likes of BT Global. RedShield recently won a major proof-of-concept contract with a United States Fortune 500 company against the globe's largest cyber-security vendors.

Emigrating from the United Kingdom to New Zealand, Andrew was a driver in the early stages of the now booming "cyber-sec" market. His original company Aura InfoSec became the country’s leading information security company founded on making people more secure by protecting the systems used every day.

This concept worked until Andrew deduced that just finding security flaws in apps didn't make them more secure, it just pointed out issues.

He noticed that customers were struggling to fix complex flaws and potential breaches. Often problems required major re-coding, or full system upgrades, that would take months—or even years—to remedy and involving huge costs. Yet the systems were vulnerable today, and the data in them and reliance on those systems became more critical every year.

2009 saw the birth of RedShield which started protecting its first customer in 2012. It was the first company creating the ability to target 100% vulnerability remediation without the customer requiring any back-application application or code changes. By 2015 Andy sold Aura InfoSec to Kordia to focus entirely on RedShield's global growth.

The Christchurch earthquake could have spelled disaster. Instead it helped propel Ihaka Rongonui into a turbo-powered opportunity.

University wasn’t rocking his world but a summer job in recruiting sales staff convinced Ihaka that this was his calling. He became a New Zealand-wide performer for a global recruitment company. A period of golden financial and job satisfaction ‘weather’ kicked in.

Then the 2011 Christchurch earthquake hit. Like many in the city his family lost everything and decided to up stakes and move North. Ihaka was to follow until he identified the opportunity to turn adversity into advantage by being part of the Christchurch rebuild.

Rather than focus solely on staff recruitment, his goal, and business model, was to double as an accommodation supplier for workers along with a ‘fly in/fly out’ placement service.

Turbo Staff opened in 2013 with Ihaka as the sole founding father. The combination of job opportunities, accommodation and pastoral care helped to kick start the business into overdrive.

The timing, and model, proved ingenious. With the massive amount of new jobs created by the EQ, and a lack of local labour, Turbo Staff soon had a meaningful client base. The business was able to locate quality national and international workers delivering the skills required for a variety of projects.

The unique approach to recruitment created negotiation muscle for preferred terms and rates. It also allowed Turbo Staff to be selective in clients they would work with that ensured the business could be controlled and not over extended.

As the business and reputation grew offices were opened in Auckland in 2015, Wellington in 2017 and an Australian presence in the same year. The company currently employs and houses over 200 staff. Turbo Staff has also developed its own apprentice training programme known as Future Tradesmen. By quickly learning the ‘dos and don’ts’ of business success Ihaka’s creation today is debt free, achieving good profits and growing in a fast but controlled rate.