Villa Maria named top business

Villa Maria Estate Limited has been named Supreme Business of the Year at the Westpac Manukau Business Excellence Awards.

Thirteen winners were identified on Thursday 18 August at a gala dinner for the Westpac Manukau Business Excellence Awards, attended by nearly 1,000 business leaders including Prime Minister Helen Clark, Mayor of Manukau Sir Barry Curtis, and a number of government ministers.

The companies were found to come up on top for their approach to building an excellent enterprise, for results achieved, and for contribution to the economic and social communities in which they operate.

The Supreme Business of the Year trophy, an iconic symbol of being the best in business, was awarded to Villa Maria Estate Limited.

Villa Maria was founded by George Fistonich in 1961, and has since become the producer of New Zealand's most acclaimed wines, both nationally and internationally.

Villa Maria was the first major wine company in the world to bottle 100 per cent of their wines under screw cap, and in February opened its 30 million dollar Winery and Vineyard Park in Mangere to cater for the expanding national and international business and to attract local and international visitors for winery tours, wine tastings and entertainment events.

Judges said that Villa Maria works very hard to promote New Zealand, to educate their customers on New Zealand's various wine regions, and generally promoting New Zealand's positive 'clean green' image.

Villa Maria was also recognised for its success in exporting, and its attitude towards innovation and strategy, with the Express International Logistics Excellence in Exporting Award, and the Realize Innovation Limited Excellence in Innovation and Strategy Award.


The winner of the Brookfields Lawyers Employer of Choice Award, Howick & Eastern Buses Ltd of East Tamaki, was recognised because of its family approach towards nurturing and training staff, an easy flow of communication, and a unique training programme that provides opportunities to those who really benefit from them.

Likewise, Works Infrastructure Limited was awarded the ACC ThinkSafe Workplace Safety Award because of the high level of importance it places on safety throughout the organisation. Works Infrastructure Limited is considered to be one of New Zealand's leading builders and maintainers of roads, tunnels, bridges, water, gas and electricity infrastructure services and the task of overseeing safety, quality, environment and insurance issues throughout the business is overseen by a General Manager of Health and Safety and a team of seventeen safety professionals.

Grace Painters Limited, winner of the Cock & Bull Excellence in Small Business Award, does not have the luxury of a large team, but the company is showing significant growth in its niche service area, which is the painting of forkhoist vehicles. When founder Nick Grace started the business, he had no practical experience in management, but he didn't let that stop him and he is currently making early arrangements to open a branch in Australia.

When it comes to manufacturing, there are few organisations in Manukau, or even in New Zealand, to have achieved as much as Cavalier Bremworth. Originally founded in 1959, the publicly listed organisation now employs 800 people and its operations cover all aspects of the manufacturing of pure wool carpet, from wool acquisition through to wool scouring, yarn spinning and carpet tufting, and distribution.

The Westfield Manukau City Excellence in Retail Award was won by South Pacific Loans Limited, a company with just seven staff who position themselves as an 'ethical finance company' because of their attitude towards ensuring that those who borrow from them, can repay the loan. Opened in 2000, the business previously won the Best Emerging Business categories of the Westpac Manukau Business Excellence Awards in 2002.

The two winners of the Kiwi Discovery Limited Excellence in Tourism categories were A.T.S. Pacific Limited, in the Visitor Services category, and Rainbow's End Theme Park, in the Activities & Attractions category. A.T.S. Pacific is a New Zealand based inbound tour operator that packages itineraries and processes reservations on behalf of offshore tour wholesalers and retail agents. Alongside 'self-drive' tourism A.T.S. Pacific has been developing a market for New Zealand's growing boutique style accommodation, catering for 'the interactive traveller' in highly creative ways.

Rainbow's End Theme Park is one of the most well known businesses in Manukau. The company, which celebrates fun in every way possible, hosts 300,000 paying visitors per year, and this year opened an expanded suite of services to companies seeking mid-sized conference facilities via a brand new purpose built conference room catering exclusively to the corporate market.

There were also two recipients of the Trust Manukau Business Contribution to the Community award: Noel Robinson, who as Chairman of the Counties Manukau Pacific Trust helped to raise $48 million to make the new Telstra Clear Pacific Events Centre a reality. Noel is also a significant financial supporter of a number of programmes offered by the South Auckland Health Foundation. Rod Giles and his East Tamaki business Contract Warehousing were honoured for the business's dedication to building teams from long term unemployed and new migrants, and for a holistic approach to employment that truly benefits the community.

Of the two Hall of Fame inductees, Joan Withers is a professional company director who last month became CEO of media giant Fairfax New Zealand.

John Hynds established multi award winning company Hynds Pipe Systems in 1973, with just one employee. Under John's leadership the Hynds Pipe team has since grown to 500, supplying its products nationwide and over a million kilometres of Hynds pipe materials are being used underground to form New Zealand's drainage, water supply, and ducting networks.

Sir Barry Curtis, Mayor of Manukau City, was proud to honour the businesses at the new TelstraClear Pacific Events Centre in Manukau, and he stated that, as always, he was very impressed by the extremely high standards set by the winning companies.

Villa Maria, he says, sets the benchmark for all companies in Manukau and indeed New Zealand to emulate.

"The winners represent the highest echelons of business achievement," says Dave Jones, Westpac Regional Business Manager. "We are proud to be associated with these companies."

The Westpac Manukau Business Excellence Awards are sponsored by Brookfields Lawyers, Express International Logistics, the Employers &Manufacturers Association (Northern) Inc, Realize Innovation Limited, Westfield Manukau City, Cock & Bull, Kiwi Discovery Limited, ACC, Trust Manukau, Westpac and Manukau City Council.

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