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‘Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year’

9 September 2004

Five Category Winners Now Compete for ‘Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year’ Title

From lighting to wine, colour printers, group fitness classes and internet products and solutions – the five Category Winners in this year’s Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Awards operate in different industries but share a single-minded passion for success.

Selected from a field of 23 outstanding finalists, representing 22 companies, the Category Winners were chosen for their exceptional combination of qualities.

Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award Director Carol Campbell says each of the Category Winners embodies the spirit of entrepreneurship.

“These individuals have identified opportunities, taken risks and overcome challenges to build and grow their business ventures. Each one demonstrates creativity, courage, innovation, integrity, leadership and passion, as well as the tenacity and focus it takes to build a successful business.”

Ernst & Young takes great pride in announcing the five Category Winners for the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award - 2004. They are:

Retail, Consumer and Industrial Products: Bill Fulford of Lighting Direct Ltd Services, including Financial Business, Property and Arts: Phillip Mills of Les Mills International Ltd Technology, Communication and Biotechnology: David Charlesworth of Comworth Group Ltd Master (for leaders of well established businesses which have a significant commitment to entrepreneurship): Jim Delegat of Delegat's Group Ltd Young (aged 30 or under at the time of close of applications): Seeby Woodhouse of Orcon Internet Ltd

All five Category Winners will now compete for the ultimate title of Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year – 2004 with the winner being announced at a gala banquet in Auckland on Wednesday, 20 October.

The winner of the New Zealand title will go on to compete for the title of Ernst & Young World Entrepreneur of the Year in Monte Carlo in May 2005.

Detailed information about each Category Winner is outlined below:

Bill Fulford – Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year - Retail, Consumer and Industrial Products Category Managing Director - Lighting Direct

Lighting Direct is New Zealand’s largest lighting retail chain store and has been servicing the New Zealand market for almost 30 years. With 20 stores throughout the country Lighting Directs buying power has enabled the company to negotiate the best prices through buying direct from overseas manufacturers.

Bill Fulford founded Lighting Direct in 1974. He owns 100% of the company, and now employs around 160 staff nationwide.

Bill introduced a number of key initiatives to change the face of domestic lighting in New Zealand. This included the development of larger, more prominent stores, plus aggressive advertising and cash-and carry operations. Bill also introduced Fabbiaan, a stand-alone lighting company that specialises in top-end residential lighting.

Expansion plans are now underway to increase the number of stores in New Zealand.

Phillip Mills – Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year - Services, including Financial Business, Property and Arts Category Chairman - Les Mills International Ltd

Les Mills World of Fitness is one of the largest most innovative and professionally run health and fitness clubs in the world.

Established by Les and Colleen Mills in 1968, the company was publicly listed in 1984. He sold out of the business completely in 1997 and within six years, Phillip Mills had progressively bought it back.

Graduating from UCLA, Phillip Mills had developed a particular interest in the opportunities that lay ahead in the fitness industry, namely the aerobics’ exercise phenomenon. After briefly returning to New Zealand, Phillip moved to Australia where he set up and managed four successful fitness centres. Phillip sold these centres to finance the purchase of the New Zealand Les Mills Gyms in 1990.

There are now nine Les Mills Clubs in New Zealand with approximately 43,000 members with plans to open a further six clubs in the future. Constant system upgrades, satisfying the needs of their members, and monitoring trends in the industry are regularly on Phillips agenda.

A side business which Phillip began in 1980, licensing Les Mills-developed fitness classes to other clubs, has grown to the point where the company currently supplies its classes to over 9,000 fitness clubs in 55 countries.

David Charlesworth – Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year - Technology, Communication and Biotechnology Category Managing Director -Comworth Group

Comworth Systems Ltd is the sole distributor for OKI (Japan) in New Zealand. OKI specialises in producing high quality dot matrix, digital mono and colour page computer printers and fax machines. David Charlesworth began Comworth Systems in Mairangi Bay in 1983. With the support of his wife Bronwen, they acquired the distribution rights for OKI telecommunication products.

David started Comworth Systems with very little capital and an IBM Personal Computer. Initially he had an informal agreement with OKI Japan to see if he could sell their fax machines in New Zealand, with the idea that OKI would give him a distribution agreement if successful. The agreement was successful, so OKI offered Comworth Systems their printer business as well as cellular phonesl.

Today Comworth Group of three main companies has a strong presence supplying products from Oki, Avaya, and other manufacturers for both office automation and telecommunication solutions to leading New Zealand companies. David’s vision is to maintain private ownership of the group involving key staff equity, offering leading edge products and services to the business sector.

Jakov Delegat – Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year – Master Category Managing Director -Delegat’s Group Ltd

Delegat's Group Ltd is a leading winemaker and brand marketer of Super Premium wines achieving exceptional sales growth in international markets. Established in 1947, Delegat's is today one of New Zealand's top 4 wine companies and remains family owned and managed.

In 1973, at aged 24, Jim assumed leadership of Delegat's and throughout the 1970's he focused on building the business in the domestic market with a product range consisting of fortified wines that were key products in the industry at the time. In the 1980's Jim focused the company's direction exclusively on producing world-class table wines for the domestic and potential international wine markets. This meant selling the company's West Auckland vineyards and purchasing land and establishing vineyards in the renowned Hawke's Bay and Marlborough regions. The company soon went on to win 'World's Best' trophies for its Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay and received ten years of consecutive gold medals for its Hawkes Bay Chardonnays.

Since then, under Jim's direction, the company has continued to focus on building global distribution and is now a leading New Zealand winery in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and the United States. Delegat's strategy is to lead New Zealand wine category growth and establish the Oyster Bay label as one of the world's great super premium brands.

Seeby Woodhouse – Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year – Young Category Managing Director -Orcon Internet Ltd

Orcon Internet Ltd is the 4th largest Internet Service Provider (ISP) in New Zealand. Orcon is a wholesale provider servicing around a third of the ISP’s in New Zealand, as well as providing retail services to around 30,000 residential and business customers.

Seeby Woodhouse is the founder and Managing Director of Orcon Internet Ltd and has grown the company from its inception in 1997, to a company that now has 32 full time staff, and is the second largest provider or JetStream ADSL connections in the country.

Seeby initially started the company from home, using an old computer and three dial-in connections. The primary start up phase focused on the no frills end of the market, with pricing around half the price of the cheapest competitor, and targeted at technically minded customers in order to minimise the amount of customer support required. The business model today however, focuses on providing a premium level of service and support to residential, business and wholesale customers.

Orcon has achieved 50-200% growth each year since it’s inception, and has completed a total of 24 acquisitions of smaller ISP’s and web hosting companies since 1997.

Now in its seventh year in New Zealand, the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year programme was launched over 17 years ago by Ernst & Young Worldwide to recognise entrepreneurial spirit around the globe. It now runs in 35 countries and has an illustrious list of past winners around the world including Michael Dell, Dell Computer Corporation; Scott McNealy, Sun Microsystems; Jeff Bezos,; and Howard Schultz, Starbucks Coffee.

Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year is recognised as the world's most prestigious business award for entrepreneurs and it is the only global business award operating in New Zealand.


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