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NZ's Buckley misses out on World Entrepreneur of the Year

New Zealand's $100 million high-tech secret.

NBR staff
Mon, 11 Jun 2012

Bill Buckley, Ernst & Young New Zealand Entepreneur of the Year, missed out on the World Entrepreneur 2012 title in Monaco over the weekend.

The crown was won by  James Mwangi, head of Kenya's Equity Bank and a pioneer in micro-financing.

Mr Buckley's Auckland-based BSL (Buckley Systems Ltd) is a global leader in its field, manufacturing and supplying precision electromagnets to 80%-90% of the world’s ion implant industry.

BSL products and technologies are used in computer chips, flat screen televisions, whiteware, medical systems and particle accelerators, the company says.

Although best known as a patron of motorsports, motorcycling and Western Springs Speedway, the entrepreneur has also been a quiet achiever on the high-tech business front.

His first company, Buckley Engineering, launched in 1978, encountered serious glitches, and he had to divest majority shareholding to stay afloat, says EY.

In 1986, he launched Buckley Systems and, in the same year, capitalised on the IT boom in Silicon Valley. He became a major supplier to American factories.

Today, BSL employs 240 across offices in Auckland and Boston. All of its product is exported.

No detailed accounts have been published, but EY says BSL generates revenue "close to" $100 million a year (such a figure would imply some rapid growth. In 2010, the NZTE-sponsored TIN 100 list of NZ's largest tech companies put BSL at number 36, with estimated revenue of $40.5 million. In 2011, TIN ranked BSL at 29 with estimated revenue of $57.1 million. "The figure was estimated – based on average sector revenue per staff member – because they did not supply actual revenue data," TIN100 research and publications editor Simon Hendery told NBR).

According to Companies Office records, Mr Buckley and family members own 100% of BSL.

The company says it runs the largest machine shop in New Zealand, and consumes more than 500 tons of steel, 20 tons of aluminium and 65 tons of copper per month.

Mr Buckley told judges BSL was protected by its intellectual property advantage, and cost-competitiveness.

 “For anyone to be serious opposition to me would cost them a lot of money. What I can do for $1 million would cost them $10 million,” he said.

NBR staff
Mon, 11 Jun 2012
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NZ's Buckley misses out on World Entrepreneur of the Year