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Kiwi innovation and entrepreneurship on show

3 November 2004

Kiwi innovation and entrepreneurship on show at AmCham Business Awards

Eleven innovators and entrepreneurs, representing a wide range of sectors, skills and scale from a company that overhauls aircraft engines to an interactive cellular phone promotion firm are competing in the finals of the 2004 American Chamber of Commerce-UPS business Awards, in conjunction with Air New Zealand.

The Awards, to be announced at a gala dinner in Auckland on November 17, celebrate business innovation and success in the import, export, investment and tourism sectors between New Zealand and its second largest trading partner, the United States. Prizes include airfares to Los Angeles or San Francisco, flying Air New Zealand for the importer and exporter category winners. "Bilateral trade is worth about $9 billion and the American Chamber of Commerce in New Zealand is constantly seeking opportunities to enhance and expand business and trade relationships within the private and public sectors,” said AmCham President, Michael Stanley. "The annual Innovation and Success Awards provide an opportunity to showcase companies that have demonstrated imagination, innovation and entrepreneurship and honour and celebrate their achievements." The contest has been narrowed down to 11 finalists for exporter of the year to the United States for goods, services and technology and new and evolving export businesses as well as for importer of the year from the United States. The finalists are:

Importer of the Year Medix 21 Pratt and Whitney Air NZ Services trading as Christchurch Engine Centre

Exporter of the Year Goods Criterion Furniture NZ Pharmaceuticals Tenon Ltd

Exporter of the Year - Services and Technology Fisher and Paykel Healthcare Orion Systems International Zeacom

Exporter of the Year - New and Evolving Pine Manufacturers Txtstation VTL Group

Awards are also given to acknowledge and celebrate the US Investor of the Year, Contribution to Tourism and Member of AmCham.

Investor of the Year from the United States Harvard Management Company Newmont Mining Corporation Sterling Grace

Contribution to Tourism Best of New Zealand Fly Fishing Dunerider New Zealand Travel

AmCham has again asked Prime Minister Helen Clark to present the Exporter of the Year Awards and US Ambassador Charles J. Swindells the Importer of the Year Award at the black tie November 17 gala. In addition to AmCham, UPS and Air New Zealand, the Awards are supported by: Baldwins, CitiGroup Inc., Ernst and Young Ltd, GE Finance and Insurance, New Zealand Steel Ltd, Peace Software International Ltd, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise and the Sheraton Auckland Hotel and Towers. Over the last four years sponsors have provided over $260,000 in prizes to Award winners. Previous winners of the Supreme Award have included ZESPRI International, Peace Software, Airways Corporation, and Pulse Data.

For further information please contact:

Mike Hearn Executive Director American Chamber of Commerce in New Zealand Phone: 0-9-309 9140 Mobile: 021-707 506

2004 Finalists at a glance

Importer of the Year

Medix 21 Medix 21 Ltd has come a long way since it was started 18 years ago in a garage in Paremata to emerge as a leading importer and distributor of rehabilitation equipment for people with disabilities and equipment to assist physically challenged children. Medix 21 represents over 30 leading US companies and has achieved strong sales for the suppliers. Product advisers, field representatives and information and educational support for clients has helped the company expand sales of this specialized equipment with engineers on the spot to provide ongoing assembly and maintenance. The company has demonstrated a real commitment to helping children with special needs, as well as their parents and therapists, by developing new and innovative equipment that help these children reach their everyday goals.

Pratt and Whitney Air New Zealand Services (trading as Christchurch Engine Centre) An export focused maintenance, repair and overhaul facility for aircraft turbine engines, Pratt and Whitney Air New Zealand Services, has a world-class reputation for service and reliability. Despite its Christchurch location, far away from the North American and European engine manufacturing hubs, the facility has marketed and sold its skills against global competition and now overhauls nearly 200 engines each year that power a range of aircraft types from Airbuses to Boeing 737-200s and Fokkers. Detailed and co-operative customer service and a market driven philosophy, which coupled with hard work and continuous improvement, has attracted and held customers around the world and kept a high tech business in New Zealand. Today 98 per cent of the business is derived from export and revenue forecasts are targeting impressive growth in 2004 for all product lines.

Exporter of the Year Goods

Criterion Furniture Criterion is a leading manufacturer and marketer of high quality ISO 9001-accredited ready to assemble furniture for the entertainment, computer, office and home furniture markets in New Zealand, Australia and the USA. There has been huge growth in the USA as Criterion quickly responded to new opportunities as a result of the home theatre revolution. Criterion’s plasma tv stand is currently BestBuy’s best selling furniture piece, and accounts for over 90 per cent of the company’s US sales. Criterion has continued to achieve strong returns despite the impact of a stronger NZ Dollar by improving efficiencies, reducing material costs and working with supply partners while developing new partnerships. Criterion is poised to introduce a new product to meet demand for new home entertainment technology for both plasma and rear projection televisions.

NZ Pharmaceuticals New Zealand Pharmaceuticals has a turnover of around NZ$30 million annually, 99 per cent of it earned from exports of pure biochemicals as well as a range of products and ingredients for the health food, cosmetic, biotechnology and aquaculture sectors. From small beginnings, NZP is now the primary supplier of cholic acid to the world’s largest user and also supplies a range of innovative products to some of the US’s biggest laboratories and healthcare providers. US sales are expected to grow dramatically following the development and meteoric success of several new and unique products, including Catrix wound dressings derived from animal cartilage, which North American Indians believed aided healing. The innovative kiwi company, headquartered in Palmerston North, has also developed products for use in Type II diabetes treatment, sports nutrition supplements and cancer treatments. NZP has developed seaweed based products and has established Just the Berries Ltd, a successful subsidiary dedicated to extracting the healthfulness contained in blackcurrants for the dietary supplements market.

Tenon Ltd Tenon’s North American business markets and supplies a range of solid wood mouldings to major hardware and home improvement stores across America as well as random width lumber to remanufacturing customers. Tenon USA has its own marketing office and is a joint venture partner in two major moulding distributors which has enabled the company to capture margin closer to the end use customer and retailer. Tenon USA processes high grade logs that are from environmentally certified central North Island radiata forests into world class mouldings. By pioneering environmental certification Tenon was able to differentiate its products from competitors to access high value retail markets. The company also works very closely with customers and suppliers, continually improving its vertically integrated supply chain to deliver in full, on time and in specification. Tenon, formerly Fletcher Challenge Forests, having divested its forest assets, has completed its transition from forester to leading, value-added, market-led, wood solutions provider.

Exporter of the Year - Services and Technology

Fisher and Paykel Healthcare Fisher and Paykel Healthcare is forecasting 20 per cent growth for the year ended March 31 2005 with the North American market a major contributor to company revenue. Fisher and Paykel Healthcare is recognised as a leading innovator with 45 US patents and 58 US patents pending and a commitment to ongoing research and development into new therapies. The company’s humidifiers are the global market leader and a new treatment for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, affecting some 25 million Americans, will be launched in the next 12 months. In the past year two new masks for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) have been introduced and further products for the same health problem are soon to be released, securing Fisher and Paykel’s influence as the third largest suppliers of OSA products in the USA.. The company which has a sales and marketing strategy designed to secure direct customer relationships and build strong networks, has signed a shared primary purchasing agreement with Apria Healthcare Group, the largest home healthcare service provider in the United States.

Orion Systems International The only New Zealand-based company to be ranked among the top 100 health technology providers in the United States, Orion Systems International has recorded strong growth in the North American market with its Rhapsody™ Integration engine, voted number one by healthcare market customers in a recent authoritative KLAS market survey. The engine delivers automated messaging, routing, format mapping and translation capabilities to medical organisations. Orion has 250 customers in the USA, including prestigious hospitals like Johns Hopkins, and a growing reputation as an innovative provider of software that integrates and enhances healthcare systems, improves operational efficiency and accuracy of diagnosis, ultimately leading to better patient outcomes.

Zeacom Zeacom Ltd is a New Zealand-owned provider of contact centre and call handling solutions for the SME market and with its flagship Q-Master product the company has expanded sales to 18 international markets with the US now accounting for 60 per cent of its business. Zeacom has successfully carved out a niche as a leading SME expert and has been winning 20-30 customers each month in the competitive US market. The company’s three-year road map has Zeacom continuing to build new, leading edge and affordable call centre services and products. The company has also succeeded in securing important strategic partnerships and distribution agreements with leading US players including Expanets and NEC United Solutions. It has relocated its CEO to California to manage the fast growing business and ensure opportunities to expand are recognised and seized, exemplified by the deals it has secured with credit unions, a niche business and ideally suited for the Zeacom range of solutions.

Exporter of the Year - New and Evolving

Pine Manufacturers Bodyguard® brand – a range of solid wood exterior building products – exemplifies kiwi ingenuity and the power and value of teamwork. The new durable exterior building product was three years in the making from the initial idea through to development of the new brand and launch earlier this year in the US market. Sales are expected to grow quickly to NZ$60 million p.a., having reached $4.5 million in the first six months. The initiative is the result of a collective of companies – Flight Timbers Ltd (Blenheim), Jenkin Timber Ltd (Auckland), Pacific Timber NZ Ltd (Ashburton), Panahome NZ Ltd (Rotorua), Tenon Ltd (Auckland/Rotorua) and Taranaki Sawmills Ltd with chemical suppliers, Koppers Arch and Osmose.

Txtstation Txtstation is a global mobile marketing company specialising in marketing and promotion solutions in the sports and entertainment sectors. Txtstation, which is headquartered in New Zealand, with agencies in the US, Australia, India, UK and Germany, provides proprietary technology and support to broadcasters, sponsors and event organisers to communicate directly with audiences through their cellular phones. In July 2004 the global mobile marketing company pioneered the first ever live mobile interactive sports broadcast in the US during three live baseball broadcasts in Los Angeles. Subsequently, Fox Sport has also engaged Txtstation to run an innovative mobile promotion. A full range of promotional products and support services is now offered and the company expects fast track growth in this key market.

VTL Group Ltd Established in 1997 to manufacture, own and manage vending machines throughout New Zealand, VTL is now a listed on the NZX and is reporting strong growth as it expands its franchise business in Australia, Europe and the United States. VTL is set to revolutionise the vending industry in the United States through a series of strategic acquisitions of other vending machine businesses and attractive franchise partnerships. The company has in place a highly experienced in-market team and a network of sales and service offices in San Diego, Los Angeles and Dallas to push momentum and introduce its unique business franchise models and total service and technology packages.

Investor of the Year from the United States

Harvard Management Company Harvard Management Company, which manages the endowment and other financial assets of Harvard University, was behind the purchase of the Central North Island Forest Partnership assets. The sale, through an affiliate of HMC, purchased the entire forestry estate and other related assets. The deal will provide significant opportunities for the development of a stable and sustainable management plan for the forest into the future and also demonstrates confidence in New Zealand’s forestry sector.

Newmont Mining Corporation Newmont Mining Corporation is the world's largest gold producer. In New Zealand the company operates as Newmont Waihi Gold and owns the Martha Mine at Waihi which produces around 110,000 oz of gold a year. Newmont has recently committed to a major new operation, the Favona Underground Project, an underground mine just south of Waihi which is expected to produce around 355,000 oz of gold over four years and to a comprehensive exploration programme in the area. Investment means more than dollars. Newmont has made a significant social and cultural investment in Waihi and the immediate region.

Sterling Grace The acquisition of Tower Trust New Zealand, the personal and corporate trust and custody business of Tower Limited, by US-based investment firm Sterling Grace Corporation, became official mid 2003. The first order of business was to return to the company’s original 122 year old brand name, Trustees Executors Limited. Sterling Grace regards the investment as long term and has plans to build on Trustees Executors’ reputation to maintain its leadership position in the corporate trust market while evaluating opportunities to enhance its range of personal client services .

Contribution to Tourism

Best of New Zealand Fly Fishing Santa Monica based Best of New Zealand is a specialist in New Zealand fly fishing. Owned by Californian Mike McClelland, the 15 year old company has become one of Air New Zealand's top 50 global accounts. This is no small task for a specialist niche operator which only sends about 1000 passengers a year, many of them regular self drive guests, particularly those seeking boutique or luxury experiences. During the past two years the company has been associated with "The Royal Tour", a Discovery Channel programme featuring Prime Minister Helen Clarke.

Dunerider Dunerider’s first foray into the North America market was as a delegate of 100% Pure Enterprise, Tourism New Zealand’s in-market introductory programme. It was August 2001, only three weeks before 9/11. Through perseverance, effort and energy the fledgling company has pursued a strategy to carve a niche in a very demanding market through target marketing and investing in training frontline sales staff to promote not only the Dunerider experience but New Zealand as a compelling vacation destination.

New Zealand Travel Long established New Zealand Travel of Langhorne, Philadelphia, specialises in upmarket, customised independent touring to New Zealand, including trail blazing the luxury lodge market. With 850 passengers per annum, New Zealand Travel is an important contributor to upmarket properties. The specialist company has won regular recognition as the New Zealand specialists in such prestigious titles as Travel and Leisure, Condé Nast Traveller, and National Geographic Traveller.

ENDS


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