Business awards launched with new sponsor


Businesses have been urged to enter this year’s Waikato Business Awards at a launch hosted at the headquarters of new main sponsor Foster Group.

Fosters took on the role after Westpac relinquished its naming rights sponsorship. CEO Leonard Gardner said the board’s decision to support the Waikato Chamber of Commerce awards was “a no-brainer”.

“We’ve got a purpose of great communities through strong foundations. If we want to make the community great we need to encourage and support and inspire business,” he told the 90 people in

“It’s actually all about supporting the business community and supporting the work of the Chamber.”

Ewan Wilson, Steve Gow and Tim Macindoe

Ewan Wilson, Steve Gow and Tim Macindoe

He said Foster Construction won the Supreme Award in 2017, during a time when the Group was looking to engage more with the wider community, and entering the awards contributed to that. “It was a fantastic process, nowhere near as long and arduous as I thought it would be.”

Fosters CEO Leonard Gardner

Fosters CEO Leonard Gardner

Chief judge Heather Connolly, of Waikato University, said entering was as easy as answering a handful of questions online, with the emphasis on telling a “cool story” with evidence, followed by
judges’ visits.

“So why should you enter? Well, one, as judges, we are there to support you and not to criticise you. We are there to actually try and get you to tell us about what’s exciting about your business. What you do that’s different from everybody else. What cool ideas have your staff come up with? What ways are you tackling problems differently? And we are there to listen to what you’re doing.”

At the end of the process, a business gets the judges’ feedback. “And that feedback is: ‘this is what you’re doing great, this is where we think you’ve got some great opportunities to expand your business’. Because it’s about you, it’s about how you can move your organisation forward. It’s about celebrating what you’re actually doing, as well.”

Connolly said there were 24 to 25 judges this year, 11 of whom were new. “I’m excited about constantly bringing new people through and allowing them to experience our businesses.

“It’s really exciting to be able to go out and see businesses for what they are and what a wonderful business community we’ve got here.”

The crowd gathers in Fosters’ lobby

The crowd gathers in Fosters’ lobby


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