A SMALL young business took the top award at the first Westpac Gisborne business excellence awards at the Lawson Field Theatre last night.
East Coast Farm Vets was named the Westpac supreme business of the year in an evening dedicated to showcasing successful businesses in the region.
The cocktail function and awards ceremony drew a crowd of 220, with 150 attending the awards dinner at Quality Hotel Emerald later in the evening.
East Coast Farm Vets owners and veterinarians Andrew Cribb and Loren Smith made the walk down the red carpet three times to collect awards for professionals and service excellence, small business up to $1 million and the Westpac supreme business of the year.
Mr Cribb said they were “totally surprised” by the wins.
As an emerging business, he thought it might take a few more years in the industry to be recognised.
Mr Cribb started the farm animal side of the business just over two years ago, from humble beginnings out of the back of his garage and truck.
The small animal side to the business, called Pet Vets, was added in November last year.
The couple have been together for almost four years. Their rapidly-growing business outgrew the shed and relocated to Ballance Street Village with East Coast Pet Vets on December 5.
Mr Cribb was quick to give credit to the whole team — a “caring” staff of nine.
“A lot of our success has been down to getting the right people.
“The whole thing we’re about is improving lives and making a difference. That’s the whole essence of our business – whether it’s an animal or a client.”
The last few years had brought massive growth but the hard work and grey hairs was all worth it, they said last night.
Master of ceremonies Oliver Driver entertained the audience and said he had spent seven New Year’s Eves in Gisborne, thanks to one of the other award winners of the night — Rhythm and Vines.
Gearing up for the 10-year anniversary festival, the management team were there to accept two awards . . . winner of the large business category, and the tourism and hospitality excellence award.
Programme director Hamish Pinkham said it was a fantastic event to be part of.
“It is nice to be rewarded after a number of years of hard work and commitment to building this world-class event right here in Gisborne.”
From small beginnings in 2003, when 1800 university friends attended, to a turnover today of $5 million a year, Rhythm and Vines had grown to a three-day-festival with an expected crowd of 30,000 for their 10-year anniversary.
Mr Pinkham said the investment going into the venue at Waiohika cemented their commitment to the district.
“We want to be here for the coming years and we’re looking forward to the 20-year anniversary.”
Eleven judges took on the task of scrutinising the businesses that entered.
Convener of the judges John Clarke said on behalf of the judging panel he wanted to acknowledge the team at Westpac and all the other sponsors for bring the business excellence award to Gisborne.
“There are always challenges associated with trying something new, especially when celebrating excellence is often frowned upon by society that wants everyone and everything to be equal.
“It’s time for Gisborne, quite frankly, to forget about its railway line for the moment, forget about who owns the water and forget about the pyjamas in the main street and celebrate some successful businesses.”
He thanked the businesses that entered for taking the time to enter the awards and the team of 11 judges who took on the “robust” process of judging them.
“This is a small town, so clearly there are issues of conflict and confidentiality that need to sorted out from the outset.
“We did go to some considerable effort, particularly around the conflict, to make sure the judges that had conflict were kept well away from those categories.
“In fact, at the first meeting of judges we went to I didn’t know who the other judges were — such was the veil of secrecy around it.
“A number of confidentiality agreements were signed.”
The diverse range of businesses, with different customer bases and dealing with different products and services, meant they were not judging a bowl of apples, but a bowl of fruit.
Interviews were held with each business and they were scored on areas of financial performance, planning, customer service, leadership, market focus, branding, systems being used, innovation and community involvement and health and safety, he said.
Going through that process gave businesses the chance to step back from the day-to-day activity and really put their minds to what they were doing in those specific areas.
It was a business awards, so the financial performance was weighted heavily as between 20 to 25 percent of the score, he said.