Supreme Winner

fi innovations - Supreme Winner of 2017 Westpac Southland Business Excellence Awards

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fi innovations - Supreme Winner of 2017 Westpac Southland Business Excellence Awards

“Put yourself out there.”

“Being part of a winning team will do wonders for the team morale."

“Even being a finalist is a big achievement.”

With these words, fi innovations Managing Director, Gareth Dykes, has a clear message for New Zealand’s composites sector— “our industry can foot it with the very best”.

The Invercargill-based composites company has proved this by winning the overall Supreme Award in the 2017 Westpac Southland Business Excellence Awards and the Market South Innovation Award.

To do this, the progressive Southland composites company topped some large, impressive industries such as NZ Aluminium Smelter (more than 700 employees), Stabicraft Marine (more than 60 employees), Southern Cross Hospital (health care), The Warehouse (retail), Fonterra (milk processing), and ILT Stadium Southland (sport/cultural complex).

Like other business award schemes throughout the country, the Westpac Southland Business Excellence Awards showcase a region’s business talent and capability. They also pay tribute to local businesses that are helping to build a region’s economy and community.

“The Southland Chamber of Commerce recommended that we enter because they saw us doing innovative and exciting stuff.

“We felt that it was the right time since our business has experienced steady growth over the last five years. We thought it would be worthwhile giving it a go,” Gareth said.

As well as accolades for the winners, all entrants benefit from the awards process. Be it increased staff morale, confidence building during the self-assessment, enhanced industry recognition or greater public profile.

This was undoubtedly true for fi innovations.

“Our public profile has already been raised,” Gareth said.

“Many more people now know what we do. Hopefully, this will lead to extra work. The awards reinforce that we’re a reputable company, especially in the eyes of corporate clients,” he said.

Melissa Dykes, fellow Director and Business Manager, who helped prepare the entry, said the awards were an excellent opportunity to highlight the company.

“We showed what fi innovations could offer, celebrated the direction and growth of the business, as well as recognising the dedication of our team.”

Business award entries can be a time-consuming experience. Each entry requires a detailed business plan, but this effort can be an excellent opportunity for a business to re-focus its operations.

So how did fi innovations approach the task?

“We aimed for a ‘telling our story’ approach for each of our four categories, then continued the particular theme (e.g. innovation) throughout each application.”

“Much of what we submitted had already been worked on over the past 12 months, so that saved time,” he said.

Melissa valued the opportunity for reflection.

“Definitely beneficial, as we could look back and see what we had achieved. We identified areas of growth and diversification, and it helped ensure our goals were aligned with our mission."

“The awards have enabled us to communicate the business’s vision and values with our team, especially new employees,” Melissa said.

The judges, Warwick Low (Venture Southland), Frank Gibbons (Air NZ), Dave Anderson (Westpac) and Frank Bennett (SIT ‘Business Enterprise’ Programme Manager), were left in no doubt as to the worthiness of Fi Innovations for the overall Westpac Supreme Award.

But Gareth is quick to extol the benefits of just entering.

“I would like to encourage other businesses in our field to enter."

“Not everyone can win an award on the night, but simply going through the process is another kind of winning. Businesses would get to examine their own operations in detail,” Gareth said.

Article written for CANZ ‘Flexi’ magazine (Dec 2017) by Graeme Stilwell

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