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‘Remote build’ marine interiors take top honours

EMBARGO: 11 pm Wednesday September 12

‘Remote build’ marine interiors take top honours in awards
celebrating $9 billion two-way trade between NZ & US

A company that makes high quality interiors for super yachts, then ships them around the world to wherever the vessel is being built, took top honours in the 2007 American Chamber of Commerce-UPS Success & Innovation Awards in Auckland tonight.

SMI Group, based in Whangarei, beat other key players in the $9 billion two-way trade between New Zealand and the United States to take the Supreme Award.

Judges commended SMI for using innovative business approaches and technology that allowed it to compete from a New Zealand base at a time when many manufacturers were closing down or moving off-shore. As well as building interiors for super yachts, SMI is also working with aircraft manufacturers to provide interiors for privately owned aircraft.

Speaking on behalf of the judging panel, Tim Jackson said: “Among the SMI developed technology that impressed us was the application used to create a real timber look using synthetic components. Fibreglass is digitally imprinted with a timber surface allowing, for example, boat handrails that look like teak but are made from fibreglass. With this technology SMI achieves a classic look without the environmental impact associated with the use of hard wood.”

The 8th annual American Chamber of Commerce-UPS Awards were announced this evening at a gala dinner at the Hyatt Regency Auckland. The event was attended by the Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon. Helen Clark; the US Ambassador to New Zealand William McCormick; the New Zealand Ambassador to Washington, Roy Ferguson, and other US dignitaries in town for the NZ-US Partnership Forum.

The Supreme Award winner is chosen from four awards winners. SMI, which also won the Exporter of the Year Award (over $5 million category), fended off strong competition from AWARD Attachments, winner of the Exporter of the Year ($500,001-$5 million category); Plant Research (NZ), winner of the Exporter of the Year (under $500,000 category); and Matisse International Furniture, winner of the Importer of the Year from the USA Award.

Their prizes include airfares to Los Angeles or San Francisco, flying Air New Zealand.
"Bilateral trade is worth over $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 the organisation’s President, Mark Fitz-Gerald. "The annual Success and Innovation Awards provide an opportunity to showcase companies that have demonstrated imagination, innovation and entrepreneurship, and to honour and celebrate their achievements."

Also presented was the Investor of the Year Award to Fletcher Building for its purchase of US based Formica Corporation for US$700 million while the Air New Zealand Ambassador Award was won by Iowa businesswoman Marcia Rogers. Ms Rogers was nominated by former Governor of Iowa Tom Vilsack, who said no American had been a better friend to New Zealand. She was instrumental in establishing a close alliance between Iowa and New Zealand that now includes a number of highly successful business and university relationships, and covers life sciences and biotechnology among other sectors.

The Trevor Eagle Memorial Award for American Chamber of Commerce Supporter of the Year went to The Quadrant Auckland hotel.

In addition to the American Chamber of Commerce, UPS and Air New Zealand, the annual awards are supported by Baldwins, CitiGroup, Ernst and Young, GE Money, New Zealand Steel and New Zealand Trade and Enterprise.

With this year’s awards sponsors have provided nearly $500,000 in prizes to winners. Previous winners of the Supreme Award have included Zespri International, Peace Software, Airways Corporation, HumanWare, Tenon, Orion Systems International and Zeacom.

For further information please contact:
Mike Hearn, Executive Director, American Chamber of Commerce in New Zealand
Phone 09 309 9140, Mobile 021 707 506, Email

2007 Award Winners at a Glance

Supreme Award Winner and Exporter of the Year to the USA – over $5 million
SMI Group – manufactures luxury interiors for super yachts. The cornerstone of its success is a unique “remote build” system enabling complete interiors to be built in New Zealand and shipped to wherever the yacht is being constructed. This dramatically reduces the time it takes to build interiors, providing for reduced costs and increased quality. SMI consistently punches above its weight in the competitive US market where it is known for its dedication to excellence in design, innovation, quality and service.

Exporter of the Year to the USA – under $500,000
Plant Research (NZ) – Whether you like your peas fresh, frozen, minted or mushy, you’ve got Plant Research New Zealand to thank. Plant Research, established seven years ago, develops pea varieties to suit different palates and growing conditions. Two of its pea varieties have set new benchmarks for colour and shape in the US, where market penetration is 56%. Both varieties have been designed to reduce impact on the environment. Features include exceptional seedling vigour, helping to reduce use of herbicides.

Exporter of the Year to the USA – $500,001 to $5 million
AWARD Attachments – Speed, simplicity and safety are the hallmarks of AWARD Attachments. The company designs and manufactures specialised equipment for the demolition, recycling and construction industries. Its customers in the US report AWARD’s technological edge increases their productivity and profitability. The company’s equipment range allows customers to process materials faster and more safely than competitor products. The range includes jaws to pulverise and cut concrete, grappling jaws to lift sturdy construction materials and tilting devices for more efficient loading and unloading of shipping containers.

Investor of the Year to or from the USA
Fletcher Building – Fletcher Building has been nominated for this award because of its purchase of U.S based Formica Corporation for US$700 million. The purchase gives Fletcher the ability to establish a truly global laminates platform and significantly increase the geographic diversity of its earnings exposure.

Importer of the Year from the USA
Matisse International Furniture – Matisse has built an enviable reputation over the past 30 years as the leading importer of world class commercial and designer furnishings. Matisse began with a small South Island plant making office work stations. Today Matisse generates sales $11 million. Matisse represents five top US furniture companies in the New Zealand market.


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