Finalists of 2013 NZ International Business Awards


A revolutionary diabetes detection system and a digital DJ software platform are among the unique range of solutions produced by the 29 finalists in this year’s 2013 New Zealand International Business Awards. Celebrating the passion, vision and new approaches that New Zealand businesses are taking to achieve international success, the Awards are run by New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE) and strategic partner ANZ. Other finalists include a business offering 3D modelling technology for use in hydrogeological and geothermal exploration, a company whose handmade educational tools for children are sold in Harrods and MoMa, a burger venture taking on the Middle East, a business that manufactures precision electro magnets used in touchscreens, whiteware and medical systems, and a number of agricultural and ICT-focused companies. Also of note this year are the two winery finalists – the first time in four years a winery has made it to the finalist stage of the Awards.A judging panel featuring some of New Zealand’s top business minds scrutinised over 160 entries across 68 companies before settling on the 29 finalists.

In addition to celebrating company achievements, the Awards recognise individuals who are leading lights in the New Zealand business community. Six business leaders are finalists in two categories that celebrate an emerging and an outstanding leader in international business.

Peter Chrisp, Chief Executive of New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, said the breadth of finalists from across various New Zealand regions and sectors demonstrates the diversity of this country’s business prowess.

“The global economy continues to be tough and these finalists have certainly faced their share of challenges on the road to internationalisation. But through their ambition, skill, flexibility, adaptability and determination, they continue to rise to the challenge and their contribution to the country’s export success is invaluable.

“That contribution isn’t only measured in revenue – companies may have spent the past year positioning themselves for future growth, growing their share of a particular market, or increasing their brand profile. These are all powerful business growth strategies.”

David Green, Managing Director Institutional at ANZ New Zealand, said: “A successful export sector is good for business and essential for creating jobs and growth in the New Zealand economy. These diverse finalists epitomise this country’s exporting strengths and are stand-outs among the inspirational companies and individuals that are succeeding in international markets.
“In positioning their businesses on the global stage, they’re competing and winning in an environment that is challenging and rapidly changing. If mastered successfully, the changes that are incurring, including the rapid growth and urbanisation in Asian markets, provide enormous opportunities for businesses to grow and contribute to New Zealand’s success.”

The finalists, together with individuals nominated in the leadership categories, have a nervous wait ahead of the Awards ceremony, which is being held on September 26 in Auckland.

Follow the finalists on Twitter: @NZTEnews, #NZIBA; Facebook:; and online at


Mark Waller has been at the helm of medical, pharmaceutical and animal specialist EBOS Group for 26 years, taking on the role of Chief Executive in early 1987. 

EBOS had been listed in New Zealand since 1960, and when Waller joined, it was a small company with revenues of around $8.9 million.  Its majority shareholder was Brierley Investments and Waller counts Brierley’s Craig Thompson and Chairman Jamie Maddren as two earlier influences in his entrepreneurial path.

In the early 1990’s, he recognised that EBOS couldn’t simply be a product centric company.  Instead, it focused on bridging a gap in the health market between what patients require through the various stages of their lives and how health providers deliver what’s needed to service their customers.  Embracing new technology has been an important part of that and EBOS has become one of New Zealand’s largest e-commerce trading organisations, with every pharmacy and hospital able to order online.  Thanks to Waller, EBOS was one of the first organisations in its industry to understand the vital importance of supply chain.

Under Waller’s stewardship, EBOS Group has become the major supplier of medical consumable products and pharmaceuticals to the total health industry, including public hospitals, GP’s, aged care centres, and retail pharmacies.  It has emerged from the shadow of the large multinationals and successfully taken them on, achieving revenues of around $1.4 billion.  Forecast revenues for 13/14 are set to increase to $6 billion following the recent Symbion acquisition.  Successful M&A activity has helped EBOS to become the market leader.

Waller encourages big picture thinking from his management team and gives them significant autonomy.  He offers non-conventional training to all senior management through a training/coaching programme, which combines quantum physics and meditation.

Mark Waller is a finalist for the KPMG Leader: Outstanding Contribution to International Business in the 2013 New Zealand International Business Awards.


Growing up on his father’s dairy farm, Brett Hewlett developed a strong work ethic and learnt the importance of teamwork. After studying food technology at Massey University, he worked at the New Zealand Cooperative Dairy Company (now Fonterra).

In a subsequent role at Hamilton food-processing equipment supplier Alfa Laval, he was transferred to the UK and went on to lead a start-up company developing the eastern Mediterranean markets for Tetra Pak, which acquired Alfa Laval in 1998.

Over a period of 15 years, he held numerous management positions in the UK and Europe. He gained his MBA in Lausanne, Switzerland, and completed an Entrepreneurial Leadership course at MIT.

In 2005, Brett Hewlett was appointed CEO of Comvita, and spent time with its founders to understand their vision for the company and safeguard its brand and corporate values.

Hewlett’s approach has always been to build on, not over, Comvita’s existing values. But he has embraced the challenge of growing it from a small founder-led company into an international business, thanks to his real-world experience and understanding of how different cultures do business.

Historically, Comvita was a pure exporter whose products were on-sold by distributors. Hewlett sought to control these international markets and tweak existing products or create new ones to meet the specific needs. He has worked hard to ensure that as a small brand taking on the world, Comvita understands the markets it seeks to work in and tailors its channels accordingly.

Hewlett encourages his colleagues to challenge his thinking, and constantly works to instil a culture of collaboration and openness at Comvita. He believes in the importance of building his staff’s confidence and challenging them to think bigger and bolder. His biggest kick is seeing people grow and develop.

Brett Hewlett is a finalist for the KPMG Outstanding International Business Leader at the 2013 New Zealand International Business Awards.   


A civil engineer by training, Mark Cairns has been Chief Executive of Port of Tauranga since 2005. It’s a role he says fulfils his desire to work with people and make a difference.

The Port of Tauranga plays a vital role for New Zealand exporters who rely on it to get their products overseas. Over the past eight years, Cairns has made the organisation’s focus more strategic and forward thinking, creating and articulating medium-term goals and a 50-year vision for the Port.

The Port has performed exceptionally well under Cairns’ leadership. It is now New Zealand’s largest container port and has the highest container productivity rate in Australasia. Cairns estimates it contributes more than 50% of the Region’s GDP and the New Zealand Shippers’ Council estimate there is  more than $300 million in value annually for New Zealand’s international businesses if Port’s can handle bigger ships operating on South East Asian trade routes.

Cairns has a track record of turning companies around, and believes he has made a positive impact on the business. He gives his team responsibility and empowers them to make decisions, supporting them in success and failure. His management style is consultative and collaborative, and he works hard to bring out the best in staff at all levels in his organisation.

Collegial in his approach, Cairns has strong family values but is also very results driven and action orientated.

Among his significant contributions to the company is moving to a longer term focus and adopting the tagline “Port for the Future”.  Cairns has now moved well beyond the words, with the Port more than half way through a $170 million capital expansion program to ensure that Port of Tauranga is “big ship” capable to allow New Zealand’s exporters the lowest possible freight costs in getting their goods to market.  Cairns has also lead significant vertical integration of the Company making numerous investments in transport and logistics businesses, stevedoring and marshalling businesses, and even other Ports. .

Under Cairns’ leadership, the Port’s senior management team has responded to a number of acute, and often unexpected, issues. These include the grounding of the container ship MV Rena and the diversion of containers as a consequence of industrial stoppages at the Ports of Auckland.

Mark Cairns is a finalist for the KPMG Leader: Outstanding Contribution to International Business in the 2013 New Zealand International Business Awards.


International farming practices vary greatly. Because of this, agritech company Tru-Test Group has adapted its strategy to meet the requirements and optimise the development of its specific markets.

Tru-Test Group specialises in the manufacture and sale of livestock production systems to more than 100 countries. The company’s staged-entry business model has enabled it to develop significant market presence around the globe, with concentrated investments in key markets.

In the domestic market, Tru-Test is an integrated full-solution provider. It bases its customer experience around Lean Manufacturing philosophies and supply of industry-leading products coupled with technical services such as installation, technical training, data services and on-farm support.

In its subsidiary markets, Tru-Test directly invests in the infrastructure and capabilities to become a full solution provider. It deploys dedicated teams to undertake sales, marketing, customer service and product distribution.

In its key subsidiary market of North America, Tru-Test has established local manufacture of US-specific products. This ‘Made in the USA’ approach has opened new channels through rural chain stores, providing significant increases in revenue, and customer base and reach.

Tru-Test has also achieved considerable success in Latin America since taking the majority shareholding of Tru-Test Brazil S.A. Revenue has doubled and the company now has the infrastructure, knowledge, contacts and staff to drive growth further.

In its distributor markets, which include Asia, other parts of Latin America, Europe, Russia and South Africa, Tru-Test is developing the relationships and presence that will enable further investment. In many of these markets, joint activity with strategic distribution partners may potentially turn them into subsidiaries.

Tru-Test Group won a New Zealand China Trade Association (NZCTA) award in 2012 for success in opening up the market for weighing equipment for the country’s 12 million-strong dairy cow industry. The award recognised 315% business growth in the previous two years. They were also named Exporter of the Year in the over $25 million category and Supreme Winner at the 2013 ExportNZ Auckland Awards.

Tru-Test Group is a finalist for AUT Business School Most Innovative Business Model in the 2013 New Zealand International Design Awards.


Sixteen years ago, The New Zealand Merino Company (NZM) flipped the traditional, production-led and commodity-based Merino growing industry on its head. In doing so it brought about a global-market-oriented culture that creates, delivers and captures long-term value.

Today, NZM is the New Zealand Merino industry’s leading integrated sales, marketing and innovation company. It was established with a vision to differentiate Merino fibre in high-value markets worldwide and deliver sustainable value for growers. NZM continues to focus on creating strong connections between growers and premium global brands.

NZM’s strategy is to target New Zealand Merino fibre, meat and co-products to premium brands and consumers in high-value international niche markets. Its fibre brand partners are leaders in luxury and performance apparel markets in the US, UK, Europe, Japan and China, where higher returns are realised through branding and communicating the natural and exclusive qualities of Merino fibre.

The company handles around 80% of New Zealand’s fine wool clip. This equates to $150 million in fibre sales, of which, last year 70% were through long term contracts as opposed to boom bust commodity transactions. ZQ Merino, its fibre brand, is recognised globally as a guarantee of the best Merino fibre available, and is backed by an accreditation programme ensuring ethical and sustainable farming methods.

In addition to its core fibre business, NZM has identified opportunities to drive future export earnings through Alpine Origin Merino Ltd and its SILERE branded meat initiatives (a joint venture with Silver Fern Farms). It has secured distribution in the USA and China.

NZM has experienced significant growth in export earnings. In the last financial year, international sales totalled $151 million, a 26% increase on the previous year, and accounted for 92% of NZM’s revenue.

Through the company’s activities and business model it has delivered on average $10 to $15 million of additional value annually for New Zealand Merino growers.

The New ZealandMerino Company is a finalist for the AUT Business School Innovative Business Model in the 2013 New Zealand International Business Awards.


About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (, the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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