Champion Canterbury businesses named top performers

The work by Central Plains Water and its contractors on stage one of the scheme has been recognised with a Champion ...

The work by Central Plains Water and its contractors on stage one of the scheme has been recognised with a Champion Canterbury award. The canal has since been filled with water.

Two of Canterbury's top businesses hail from the energy efficiency and water infrastructure sectors in this years' Champion Canterbury Business Awards.

The region's top business gongs on Wednesday went to Solar Bright and irrigator Central Plains Water (CPW) as supreme winners.

Solar Bright, a solar lighting company, was named as supreme in the small enterprise spot and CPW in the medium to large category.

The Champion Canterbury Business Awards 2015 attracted a record 196 entries, 21 per cent more than the previous record year of 2012. A sell-out crowd of 1330 people was due to attend last night's event at Horncastle Arena.

Those entries were whittled down to 51 finalists in the awards that showcase the region's business successes.

In their 13th year, the awards are run by a subsidiary of the Canterbury Employers' Chamber of Commerce and judged by a panel of about 30 people from the business community. Prime Minister John Key was on hand to help present the top gongs.

Leeann Watson, a director of Champion Canterbury, said there had been depth and breadth of talent shown across a range of business sectors. "The awards have been a showcase for business innovation in all its forms."

Export business Solar Bright was listed by judges as designing and manufacturing sustainable, energy-efficient lights. The products are designed to be cost effective, safe and enhance the lifestyle of users.

Last year Solar Bright won a significant contract from the World Bank to supply 250 solar street lights to the Pacific island nation of Kiribati. It has also launched a light emitting diode (LED) system for business applications.

The company's start in Christchurch dates back to 2006 and an initial focus on solar-powered LED streetlights, now used in different New Zealand locations.

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Both Solar Bright and Central Plains Water, which is backed by farmers and corporates, won multiple awards.

Backers of the CPW irrigation scheme have already opened stage one of what one day could be a $375 million Canterbury plains project. They are now moving towards a second stage, preparing designs and seeking shareholder funding.

In the initial stage CPW moved 3.5 million cubic metres of material, laid 130 kilometres of small piping, plus some extra man-sized pipes, installed 50 pumps and more than 100 farm connections. It amounted to more than $130m of construction in less than 12 months.

The plan echoes the Government's desire for more New Zealand irrigation to drive agricultural production. The Government has provided grants and loans to CPW.

This year's Champion Canterbury saw a special commendation award to Anthony Leighs, the founder and managing director of Leighs Construction, for his contribution to the region.

Leighs played a key role after the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes in building stabilisation and innovation work. He has been involved in the construction of a number of Christchurch's post-earthquake buildings.

In 2014 the commercial builder signalled he wanted to build a significant Auckland operation, planning to attract new staff and look for work opportunities.

The family trust-owned Leighs Construction has been in business for about 20 years. It has revenue of about of $150 million, according to a 2014 estimate. 

"Anthony's ... ability to look ahead and position his business to weather challenges and take advantage of new opportunities is second to none," Watson said.

"He's a driving force for the development of his sector nationwide."

The role the region's charities play in creating and maintaining a healthy community was acknowledged with Camp Quality winning the charity award for a small enterprise.

Kilmarnock Enterprises, a finalist in the 2014 charity award for a medium/large enterprise, returned to win the award in 2015.

Kaiapoi based Men at Work, a first time entrant, won the ACC workplace safety award, recognising their workplace safety systems and procedures.

Watson said the more recent growth of the awards programme was pleasing.

"It's a good reflection of the positivity and confidence we are seeing across the business sector," Watson said.

CHAMPION CANTERBURY BUSINESS AWARDS 2015

Champion Supreme Award

- Solar Bright, small category.

- Central Plains Water, medium-large category.

Champion Producer/ Manufacturer

- ARANZ Medical, medium-large.

- Solar Bright, small.

Champion Infrastructure/Trades

- Mr Box, small.

- Central Plains Water, medium-large.

Champion Retail/Hospitality

- Traiteur of Merivale, small.

- Addington Raceway & Events Centre, medium-large.

Champion Professional Service

- BVT Engineering, small.

- Computer Concepts, medium-large.

Champion Tourism

- Akaroa Dolphins, small.

- Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools & Spa, medium-large.

Champion Global Operator

- Pacific Simulators, small.

- ARANZ Geo, medium-large.

CDC Innovation award

- Solar Bright, small.

ACC Workplace Safety

- Men at Work, small.

Champion Charity

- Camp Quality Christchurch, small.

- Kilmarnock Enterprises, medium-large

Special Commendation

- Anthony Leighs of Leighs Construction.

 - Stuff

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