What the CEOs are saying - Erica Crawford

Erica Crawford founder of Kim Crawford Wines. Photo / NZH
Erica Crawford founder of Kim Crawford Wines. Photo / NZH

Erica Crawford Loveblock Wines

Erica Crawford warns the signs are there that if New Zealand does not take care "we're going to compromise the one unique selling point we have."

"Clean and green is what we have and we're busy mucking it up already ... I know big companies like Fonterra are making an effort but we need to extra vigilant."

CEO Erica Crawford is one half of the duo behind Loveblock Wines. Together with husband and winemaker Kim Crawford, the pair are entering the wine business again after successfully establishing and selling the brand that bears Kim's name for almost $60 million to Vincor in 2006.

Loveblock is focused on product quality and the sustainability of New Zealand, something bigger corporates need to take note of says Crawford.

"We're so far away from everything and I know there aren't really any barriers to market anymore, but I think sometimes we lose sight of what matters.

"We need to feed the world but we need to do it in a sustainable way."

She says typically it's the smaller companies who are leading the way and lots of small New Zealand winemakers and grape growers are moving towards organic.

"Raising that awareness and supporting these businesses can go a long way for New Zealand."

Kim Crawford Wines' success was built in the United States where the brand remains the best-selling Kiwi wine.

Loveblock has also targeted the US as its primary destination.

"It's a totally different model this time around though," says Crawford.

"Last time we owned no vineyards, no winery, no nothing. We literally made a brand and took that overseas."

"2013 brings with it a completely different wine-buying environment.

"You can't go just with passion and will-power any more. Before we even made a bottle of wine we had our route to market established."

In the past year, Loveblock shipped 13,000 cases of wine - most going to the US.

She cites achieving those levels of sales from a "standing start" as her biggest accomplishment from the past year.

Don Lyon Beca

If Don Lyon had the ability to make one change to improve New Zealand it would be to "try to get New Zealanders - including politicians, media and educators - accentuating the positive and celebrating our achievements and success on a world stage. Compared to many other nations we are actually doing very well at present and those who want to succeed here can. The environment is ripe for success and we have the opportunity to provide a great lifestyle and comfortable income that is the envy of many."

Lyon, Managing Director New Zealand of the Auckland-headquartered engineering consultancy, says his biggest achievement in the past year was developing a coherent five-year growth strategy with high levels of staff engagement.

The top three priorities on his "to do" list in the next 12 months are:

• Grow the diversity of Beca's international markets and the proportion of its non-domestic work

• Service the Christchurch rebuild to support clients' plans

• Support Beca's Australian operation and promote more seamless Trans-Tasman collaboration.

His biggest concern on the domestic front is post-earthquake insurance costs and on the international front the strength of the Australian economy.

Mark Ratcliffe Chorus

If Mark Ratcliffe had the ability to make one change to improve New Zealand it would be "get rid of MMP and implement a four-year parliamentary term."

Ratcliffe has been in the hot seat at Chorus since it was formed into an operationally separate business unit within Telecom, then appointed CEO in 2011. His biggest achievement in the past 12 months has been persuading the Crown to bring forward the review of the telecommunications network. Both revenue and profit growth are expected at Chorus in the next 12 months with Ratcliffe saying his three priorities are:

• Stabilisation of regulatory framework

• Efficient deployment of a massive capital investment

• Stimulation of retail channels to develop compelling fibre based services.

He has some concerns that phobia over foreign direct investment might put off overseas investors and impact on NZ's access to equity markets. Ratcliffe cites a "fit for purpose regulatory framework" as the single biggest factor that would help Chorus stay internationally competitive from NZ. He cites regulatory challenges as one issue facing his company that might keep him awake at night; the others are meeting customer expectations and improving operational efficiences.

- NZ Herald

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