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Meet the finalists: EY Entrepreneur of the Year

The EY Entrepreneur of the Year Awards is one of the world’s most prestigious business awards.

Awards director Jon Hooper says the rapid technology advances are creating massive opportunities for people to disrupt legacy industries and start competing businesses with less cost and infrastructure.

This year’s finalists are examples of what can be achieved through innovation and perseverance across a range of industries, he says.

The finalists face the judging panel next month and five category winners will be announced at the end of August and the final winner will be revealed in October.  

The New Zealand winner will compete for the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year title at the international event in Monaco in June 2017.

Colin and Dale Armer – Armer Farms

The Armer Group is a family-owned dairy farming business based in Te Puke. Husband and wife team Colin and Dale Armer have grown the group from a herd of 140 cows and no capital to 15 dairy arms and three support blocks milking 14,000 cows.

Armer Farms is one of Fonterra’s major suppliers and bucks industry trends by continuing to operate a farming system developed in the 1990s. Colin and Dale are the sole remaining foundation shareholders of Dairy Holdings in the South Island, which owns and operates 58 dairy farms.

Andrew Barnes – Perpetual Guardian

Andrew Barnes acquired Perpetual Guardian by amalgamating Perpetual Trust and NZ Guardian Trust when the companies were a shell of their former selves. But Barnes saw the opportunities to unleash his vision of a 21st century provider of client services based around estates, asset distribution and will provision.

In order to create scale he acquired nine companies to sit under the established brand and aligned the company with other digital businesses. Since he turned the business around Perpetual Guardian has become the largest writer of wills in New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and the United Kingdom.

Peter Beck

Peter Beck – Rocket Lab

Rocket Lab’s mission is to remove the barriers to commercial space. Peter Beck founded Rocket Lab in 2007 following a decade and a half of propulsion research and market development in the international space community.

Rocket Lab is now and US corporation with a New Zealand subsidiary and has more than 100 skilled engineers on board and uses cutting edge technology and materials to construct both rockets and the Rutherford engine propulsion system.

Carmel FisherFisher Funds Management

Carmel Fisher’s investment company has been operating for nearly 20 years and now manages $7 billion on behalf of more than 255,000 people.  Early on Fisher recognised how investors value a personal connection rather than dealing with faceless organisations.

She was an early adopter to KiwiSaver and re-oriented her business to become one of the flagship carriers for the initiative. Fisher purchased Tower Investments in 2013 and Fisher Funds is now New Zealand’s fifth largest fund manager.

Duane Dalton and Chris Henderson – Pita Pit

Chris Henderson and Duane Dalton set up the New Zealand branch of Canadian fast food chain Pita Pit seven years ago and have grown the business from one store in Takapuna to 95 throughout the country.

Linda Jenkinson with daugher Isabella

Linda Jenkinson – John Paul

Jenkinson launched concierge services and solutions company LesConcierges in 2000 and earlier this year merged the company with European giant John Paul to create a global loyalty service provider. The company has more than 1000 employees servicing more than 80 countries. Customers include some of the largest brands in the world including Visa, American Express and Apple.

David McSorley  – Max Contracts

David McSorley began Max Contracts as a managed labour company and has evolved the business into a nationwide capability that offers complete construction solutions. The business was born in the aftermath of the recession and McSorley has run a tight ship with no reliance on bank loans.

Fady Mishriki  PowerbyProxi

Mishriki co-founded PowerbyProxi in 2007 as a spin-out of the University of Auckland’s wireless power department. The company designs, licenses and manufactures the highest efficiency and density wireless power solutions for the real world. Mishriki was recently reinstated as the company chief executive and PowerbyProxi now has more than 350 patents guarding its IP. The list of clients includes Boeing, Rolls Royce and Walt Disney.

Paul Nielsen – HomeTech

In 1992 Paul Nielsen secured the rights to the Solatube Daylighting System and launched Solatube New Zealand. While he started with nothing, within four years he had became the sole owner in 1996 and changed the company’s name to HomeTech. In 2003, Nielsen led the company to securing a Housing New Zealand ventitlation contract, which HomeTech has successfully re-tendered four times since.

Neilsen has refined the product mix over the years and established a nationwide network of 25 licenced installers. More than 180,000 installations have been made across all building sectors.

Tim Norton – 90 Seconds

Tim Norton founded cloud video production company 90 Seconds in 2010 and within six years has led the company to produce almost 10,000 videos for more than 600 global brands, including Paypal, Virgin, Google, Sony and Barclays.

Earlier this year, 90 Seconds secured an $11 million investment led by one of the world’s top venture capital firms, Sequoia.

Ranjna Patel – Nirvana Health Group

Nirvana Health Group started taking shape about Patel and her husband Dr Kantilal Patel took over a GP clinic in Otara and has now grown to be the largest independent primary health care group in New Zealand.  Nirvana has 55 sites across New Zealand and Australia and serves more than 1 million customers.

Patel says it is exciting to be a finalist among such strong contenders. “It’s an honour to be recognised among such an amazing group of business people, I’m in great company.”

Jos Ruffell – Garage Project

Garage Project co-founder Jos Ruffell managed to turn a rat-infested petrol station into a Mecca for microbrewery fans. The labour of love has turned into one of the most followed and progressive breweries in the world.

Garage Project beer is now available throughout New Zealand, Australia, Sweden, Norway and California.

Jackie Smith – FAB Group

Jackie Smith founded the FAB Group in 1994 and has grown the business to become a household name in the health and beauty industry. It’s most successful brand is the Caci Clinic franchise which is now New Zealand’s largest beauty clinic chain, with 36 clinics nationwide.

Empowering women has always been a key goal of the business. “We set out to create a business that has the feel-good sensation of beauty therapy but with defined deliverables, and real results using non-invasive treatments,” she says.

A registered nurse, Smith pioneered the use of laser hair removal technology in New Zealand and continues to research new tools and advances in technology.

Rebecca Tohill – Fusion5

Rebecca Tohill and three businesses partners founded professional services provider Fusion5 in 2002. At the start of the business, the founders had to forgo a salary for a few months, but 14 years on business is thriving. Fusion5 has grown to a team of 270 employees in nine offices in Australia and New Zealand and has a goal to achieve $100 million by 2020.

John Tooby – Golden Healthcare

John Tooby started his working life as a brewer after gaining a diploma in Brewing Technology in Chicago. But he always had a passion for building, which led him to setting up Golden Healthcare Group after purchasing an existing retirement village in 1986.

Further purchases and redevelopments led to the grouping of rest and dementia homes providing space for 350 clients and the ownership of 45 existing villages.

Vladan Vukovich – Wimpex

In his native Yugoslavia, Vladan Vukovich was the chief executive of a family company employing 155 full time staff but after 22 years the company was destroyed during a NATO bombing raid. Vukovich moved to New Zealand and set about rebuilding his business and opened Wimpex in 2008.

Vukovich has expanded the dry food blending and packing company significantly and it now packages more than 10 million retail units a year. 

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