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Engineering veteran named Entrepreneur of the Year

After spending 35 years building a world-beating business, 67-year-old Bill Buckley is "still in his overalls" and loving every moment on the shop floor, as evidenced by his win at the Ernst & Young New Zealand Entrepreneur of the Year awards last week.

Bil BuckleyThe founder and sole owner of BSL Buckley Systems Ltd and Buckley Systems International was named Entrepreneur of the Year after winning the master category jointly with Linda Jenkinson of LesConcierges a month ago.

Buckley will now go on to represent New Zealand at the Ernst & Young World Entrepreneur of the Year Awards 2011 in Monte Carlo next June.

The awards celebrate entrepreneurs through regional, national and global awards programmes in more than 140 cities in 50 countries.

“This year’s finalists are inspirational in the way they have managed the downturn and for the passion with which they have pursued opportunities,” said awards director Jon Hooper.

“Entrepreneurs operate in the same economic environment as everyone else and yet they continue to innovate and prosper. They create new business models and they create jobs. There’s something to be learned in that and something to celebrate."

According to Buckley, it's no good doing what just anybody else can do.

"You have to go after the stuff that’s too complicated for the average engineer so you can be ‘Johnny on the spot’ when the demand hits.”

BSL manufactures and supplies precision electromagnets to more than 80 percent of the world market for use with such technologies as computer chips, flat-screen televisions, whiteware, medical systems and particle accelerators. The company employs more than 260 staff in New Zealand and has offices in Auckland and Boston.

Buckley said he had not considered moving the business, which has won two Trade NZ Exporter of the Year awards and in two American Chamber Of Commerce Exporter of the Year awards, overseas.

"Why change it if it's not broke?" he said.

"I have always believed that if someone says it can't be done, I'll find a way to prove them wrong."

He said there were only around 10 companies in the world producing silicon chip "capital", most of which are brands that operate under the radar such as Varian, Nissin or Axcelis. Their clients, on the other hand, are household names including IBM, Intel, Sony and NEC.

"Without Buckley Systems there would be no magnetism to the mix," he said.

According to Buckley, between 80 to 90 percent of all electromagnets and ion beam hardware supplied by the middle-tier providers to the big name brands come from BSL.  Everything it manufactures  is exported to clients in the US, Britain, Europe, Japan and other Asian destinations.

Buckley said the company's market share was fairly secure due to its reputation and quality product, and the fact that its specialist knowledge would make it extremely difficult for anyone else to replicate what it was doing.

“For anyone to be serious opposition to me would cost them a lot of money.  What I can do for $1 million would cost them $10 million," Buckley said.

The Ernst and Young New Zealand Entrepreneur of the Year category winners, announced last month, were:

* Dr Doug Cleverly, Argenta (Products)

* Simon Gault, The Nourish Group and Sous Chef (Services)

* Sean Simpson, LanzaTech (Technology)

* Victoria Ransom, Wildfire (Young Entrepreneur)

* Anthony Leighs, Leighs Construction Ltd (Commendation)

* Bill Buckley, BSL Buckley Systems Ltd and Linda Jenkinson, LesConcierges Inc (joint winners of Master Entrepreneur)

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