Brent Robinson, CEO and CTO of crystal manufacturer Rakon, has been named the 13th recipient of the Tait Radio Communications Flying Kiwi Award, joining a hall of fame that includes Sir Woolf Fisher and Maurice Paykel, Bill Gallagher, Trevor Eagle, Sir Gil Simpson, and Rod Drury.
The awards honour Kiwi hi-tech heroes and NZ Hi-Tech Trust chairman Wayne Norrie said Robinson had made – and would continue to make – an "exceptional" contribution to the industry.
"Rakon is undoubtedly one of our most successful companies and a great deal of that success has been attributed to Brent's leadership. He is an inspiration to those that work with him and for those in the industry he is blazing a new path of possibility for New Zealand-based hi-tech manufacturers."
In the early 1990s Robinson was quoted as saying the company had to "export or die". Under his leadership Rakon has grown from a family business with annual revenue of $1 million to a public company with revenue of $189 million, 2,300 staff and 72 million units shipped in 2011.
Rakon is now a multinational organisation with facilities in New Zealand, the UK, France, India and China, leading the market in GPS, telecommunications, network timing/synchronisation and aerospace.
After joining the family firm in 1979 to finish his electrical engineering apprenticeship, Robinson completed diplomas in industrial electronics, digital electronics, microprocessor control and robotics. He developed various key product and production technologies as an engineer and in 1986 was appointed Rakon's managing director.
"Seldom do you find technical innovation that is matched with an ability to innovate in the business model and execution," said Tait Radio Communications chief marketing officer James Kyd.
"We have that in Brent Robinson and Rakon; they are showing a new generation of Kiwi businesses that you can run a successful global organisation from New Zealand."