South Taranaki Star
The fish and chip cookers mingled with the panelbeaters and florists at the TSB Hub on Friday night and they were all wearing bow ties.
The cross-section of businesses awarded at the first Hawera Bizlink awards shows just how hospitable the town's retailers are.
Hawera Bizlink deputy chairman Gerard Langford said he was so impressed he would like to see the awards become an annual fixture on the town's calendar.
"It's so easy to get into that negative mind-set, that's why it's so important to celebrate your successes and to accentuate the positive," he said.
"It's really good to see the business community coming together to celebrate their achievements because they make a huge contribution to the wellbeing of our community."
He was not surprised by the smorgasbord of businesses awarded saying he thinks many of the town's businesses are tops.
"Retail, commercial, you've got a real cross-section, which is fantastic."
Bizlink town manager Jane Burke said she thinks Hawera retailers need to get better at blowing their own horns.
"I don't think that we are that good here in Hawera at putting our hand up and saying that we've done something," she said.
"We need to put up our hands in the business community and we need to reward and celebrate [those that do]."
Ms Burke said she hopes to see the innovation and apprenticeship awards entries grow over time.
Hawera's Croucher and Crowder took out the innovation award for a specialist soil spreading machine.
Managing director Marvyn Towers said their entry was an homage to the products' designer and former Croucher and Crowder managing director Bernard King.
They are now looking to market the product nationally and potentially taking it to international markets.
"This was about giving Bernard a little bit of recognition," he said.
Supreme winner on the night was Tairoa Lodge, who also took out the professional best-presented category.
Tairoa's Linda Morrison said she was happily surprised by the award as she was convinced her business had never even been mystery shopped.
The Morrisons bought the property 16 years ago and after four years of renovations opened for business. It had humble beginnings but has grown fast.
"We went from accommodation to functions and accommodation," she said.
Like many she credits good staff and a friendly attitude with her good result.
Bizlink has not yet decided where the event will become annual or biennial but is planning to send a survey out to it's members to determine preferences.
It will also determine what, if any, changes businesses would like to see in the format.
See feature Pages 20 and 21