Pancake maker Van Dyck Fine Foods crowned top Taranaki business

Owners of Van Dyck fine Foods, Inge & Marcel Vercammen. The couple's pancake business won the supreme award at TSB Bank ...
Andy Jackson

Owners of Van Dyck fine Foods, Inge & Marcel Vercammen. The couple's pancake business won the supreme award at TSB Bank Taranaki Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Awards on Saturday night.

When Inge Vercammen heard  Van Dyck Fine Foods announced as the supreme winner at the business awards on Saturday night she was speechless.

Vercammen, the commercial director of the Belgian-style pancake business she owns with husband Marcel Naenan, said she hadn't given the supreme award any thought.

She had been "hopeful" about winning the medium business excellence category at the TSB Bank Business Excellence Awards, she said.

"When we won that, I thought great, but that's it. When the supreme award was announced I was speechless, because I was not prepared."  

They were one of four category winners vying for overall supreme honours - Central Taranaki Automotive (small business excellence award category winner); JLE Electrical (large business excellence award category winner) and D'Man Entertainment, the new business excellence award category winner).

Vercammen said she didn't know what it was about their business that stood out for the judges, but it could have been their high food safety standards or the way they did their business and marketing plans.

Van Dyck Fine Foods, based in Bell Block, sells to oulets all over New Zealand as well as Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Dubai and Australia.

The hot cakes are the Kiwi favourite and the Aussies like the gluten free crepes, she said.

"We send a 40 foot container over each month."

The company's marketing manager is in Shanghai working towards expanding the business into China, she said.

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They have had a couple of big expansions at the factory in the last three years, because they need to be able to cope if an Asian market suddenly sends through a large order, she said.

"It's very exciting. But it's hard work to everything right." 

The business started in 2000 after the couple had come to New Zealand as tourists. They went to visit Noel Yarrow who they had met at a trade fair, when Naenan, who was an engineer in Belgium selling baking machines, invented a pancake machine, she said.

Yarrow suggested they made their pancakes in Taranaki for a trial and he sold them in bakery in Manaia and at the Devon Hotel. They then decided to emigrate, she said. So they saw a lawyer, got an architect and went to visit Venture Taranaki. They then went back to Belgium to start the process of emigrating to New Zealand. 

Taranaki Chamber of Commerce chief executive Richard Williams said Van Dyck Fine Foods had deservedly won the Supreme Award. 

All entrants had to make a Dragon's Den-style presentation to a panel of judges, then the four category A winners were visited on site by judges before the final decision was made.

The judges' comments read out on Saturday night noted just how much hard work and commitment it took to get Van Dyck Fine Foods to such a high level. 

"It was great to hear your story of first arriving in New Zealand, how you started the business and the growth of local sales to now be exporting internationally," said one.  

"Your investment in technology is amazing and this brings a significant capacity of production. You have looked for ways to add value to the traditional hot cake to expand your market. Your 

passion and pride for your business, product, quality, staff and machinery was clearly visible," said another. 

Williams congratulated all the participants who he said made the 21st annual business excellence awards a memorable occasion. 

"Once again we saw just how broad the business base is in Taranaki. Across the whole business spectrum of primary industries, energy, retail, tourism, innovation and entrepreneurs, marketing we 

saw some great examples of business excellence," he said.  

"I would like to thank TSB Bank for their support of these awards and the volunteer judges who have the task of reviewing the entrants of the business award categories and selecting the winners, 

highly commended and commended in each."

Full List of Results 

YES Award: bearwood, Francis Douglas Memorial College

TOP SHOP: Supreme Top Shop Award Winner: Kudos Clothing 

Mayoral Award: Winner: Daniel Radcliffe, International Volunteer HQ

Category C

Environmental & Sustainability Awareness Excellence Award 

Highly Commended: La Nuova Ltd 

Winner: Central Taranaki Automotive LTD

Health & Safety Excellence Award 

Commended: Central Taranaki Automotive LTD

Commended: JLE Electrical

Winner: Nexans New Zealand Limited

Brand Marketing, Design and Technology Excellence Award

Commended: Dman Entertainment

Highly Commended: Rumpus Room Indoor Play Ltd

Winner: DataTalk NZ Ltd

Business Innovation and Entrepreneurship Excellence Award

Commended: Van Dyck Fine Foods Ltd

Commended: Green Meadows Beef

Highly commended: Rivet

Winner: OnFarmSafety New Zealand

Employer of Choice Excellence Award

Commended: Atawhai Industries Inc.

Highly commended: JLE Electrical

Highly commended: Emerge Beauty & Wellbeing

Winner: Rivet

Category B

Visitor Industry Excellence Award 

Highly Commended: Belt Road Seaside Holiday Park and Motel

Highly Commended: Dman Entertainment

Winner: Witt Hospitality School

Service Industry Excellence Award:

Commended: Central Taranaki Automotive LTD

Commended: Emerge Beauty & Wellbeing

Highly Commended: Rumpus Room Indoor Play Ltd

Highly Commended: OnFarmSafety New Zealand

Winner: Independent Wrap Ltd

Energy Excellence Award

Highly Commended: DataTalk NZ Ltd

Winner: Taranaki Civil Construction Limited

Primary Industries, Trades, Manufacturing and Engineering Excellence Award

Commended: JLE Electrical

Commended: Ben Thomas Panelbeating

Commended: Green Meadows Beef

Highly Commended: Van Dyck Fine Foods Ltd

Winner: Rivet

Category A

New Business Excellence Award

Winner: Dman Entertainment

Small Business Excellence Award

Commended: Babylove Ltd

Commended:Eastern Taranaki Experience

Winner: Central Taranaki Automotive LTD

Medium Business Excellence Award

Highly Commended: Belt Road Seaside Holiday Park and Motel

Winner: Van Dyck Fine Foods Ltd

Large Business Excellence Award

Highly Commended: Rivet

Highly Commended: Taranaki Civil Construction Limited

Winner: JLE Electrical

Supreme Business Excellence Award

Winner: Van Dyck Fine Foods Ltd

 - Stuff

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