Export awards revisited could be the theme of the latest gala dinner celebrating some of the Bay's best companies - even though the organisers are setting an entertaining scene of "A night aboard the Orient Express" for the night.
Four of the five finalists in the 21st supreme Sharp Tudhope Exporter of the Year have been there before - an expression that they have grown stronger and brighter since their last awards.
Mount Maunganui-based Taura Natural Ingredients, one of the Bay's most established exporters after being formed in 1973, collected the top prize in 1992 and 19 years later the global manufacturer is again in line for top honours.
The company had previously been a sponsor for the Export NZ Bay of Plenty-organised awards, funding the Services to Export category for an individual who had poured their heart into the sector, just like Taura (short fror Tauranga).
Another innovative Mount company, Automation & Electronics - which provides timber-drying solutions and computerised systems to run and monitor sawmilling machines, especially in the United States - is back after winning the supreme award in 2005.
Katikati's International Roofing, a world leader in developing and manufacturing metal roofing tile systems, was a finalist in the Bay and New Zealand export awards in 2007, but that year it was pipped regionally by Triodent which produced a toolkit for dentists around the world to make their work easier.
Taura Natural Ingredients, Automation & Electronics and Triodent have the opportunity of winning the Bay exporter of the year award for the second time - to match natural health products company Comvita New Zealand which is the only company to gain the double in 1991 and 1999.
The spoiler could be Downer NZ, which is one of the country's oldest companies, starting as the Public Works Department in 1870. It now employs 5000 people in 50 towns and cities across New Zealand, as well as in Australia and Asia.
Tauranga is home for Downer's Pacific and Bitumen Supply divisions, and it has become one of the five Bay Exporter of the Year finalists through its work in Vanuatu over the past two years.
Downer successfully tendered for a US$65 million ($81.98 million) roading project, mainly funded by the government-aided Millennium Challenge Corporation, established by the former US president George W Bush.
The Vanuatu Infrastructure Compact project, organised in Tauranga, upgraded 100km of the ring road around the main Efate Island and 50km around neighbouring Santo Island.
Reconstruction started in 2008 and was completed earlier this year. The rutted, coral roads - passable in places by only four-wheel vehicles - were turned into smooth-flowing, two-lane, sealed highways.
Since their last awards, Taura Natural Ingredients and Triodent have gone from strength to strength. Taura has production plans in Owens Place, Mount, and in Belgium and it has support services in Virginia, United States, and in Stoke on Trent in England.
It developed a unique ultra-rapid concentration (URC) technology, and produces low moisture, tasty fruit ingredients for most leading global food manufacturers and brand marketers.
Taura manufactures a range of pieces, flakes and pastes for fruit and nutritional snacks, baked goods (biscuits), cereals, chocolate and confectionery.
Triodent, established in 2003, has international distributors in 51 countries and continues to make new dentistry tools such as the Griptab, triotray pro (impression system) and 360 cervical matrix.
The last two products are presently being displayed at the CDA trade show in Anaheim, US.
Triodent was named New Zealand's fastest-growing manufacturer in 2008, and was one of the top 150 fastest-growing technology companies that year in the Asia-Pacific region.
In 2009, Triodent was named top exporter to the United States in its category at the American Chamber of Commerce in New Zealand Export Awards, and in the New Zealand International Business Awards the company was named Best User of Research and Development.
International Roofing manufactures entire tile-making plants, packs them up and sends them overseas - the first tile plant was established in Jamaica.
Its new general manager, Lance Eagle; the Downer executive general manager commercial (Pacific and Bitumen Supply); and Automation and Electronics' chief software engineer, Nigel Patmore, are finalists in the Bay of Plenty Polytechnic Achiever award.
Whakatane-based Surtees Boats is the only finalist in the emerging exporter of the year from outside Western Bay. Its quality aluminium recreation and fishing boats have won 16 awards over eight years at boat shows.
In the same category, Kiwi Closures is making quality aluminium windows, doors and sliders for superyachts, and its parent company Stainless DownUnder, at Katikati, is another former Bay supreme exporter of the year.
This year the awards attracted the most entries and the judges were unable to narrow down the finalists to the usual three in each category because of the quality.
Judging co-ordinator Hugh King said: "It's remarkable that at a time where we are hearing how tough it is to do export business out there, we have had such a high number of entries, and all finalists are strong contenders to take the top spots."
The finalists in the 21st BNZ Partners Bay of Plenty Export awards are:
United Travel Corporate Emerging Exporter of Year:
* Powersmart Solar systems, Mount Maunganui and Auckland.
* Doherty Engineered Attachments, for heavy machinery, based at Mount Maunganui.
* Kiwi Closures, aluminium windows, doors for superyachts, at Katikati.
* Surtees Boats, Whakatane.
Page Macrae Innovation:
* International Roofing, Katikati.
* Triodent, dental solutions, at Katikati and in the US
* Kiwifruitz, processing at Te Puna.
* Downer NZ, infrastructure at Tauranga.
* Automation and Electronics, sawmilling solutions, at Mount.
Bay of Plenty Polytechnic Achiever:
* Jeff Oldham, of Downer NZ.
* Lance Eagle, of International Roofing.
* Nigel Patmore, of Automation and Electronics.
Sharp Tudhope Exporter of Year:
* Taura Natural Ingredients, manufacturer at Mount and in Belgium.
* Automation and Electronics.
* International Roofing.
* Downer NZ.
Zespri International Service to Export will be presented on the awards night, Friday, June 24, at the Baypark Convention Centre.