Waiariki Institute of Technology has been named the 2013 Bay of Plenty Exporter of the Year.
The honour was announced at last night's BNZ Bay of Plenty ExportNZ Awards in Mt Maunganui, with Eastern Bay companies Surtees Boats and Switchkites also taking out their categories.
Judges said Waiariki was "turning vocational training into an export success - directly generating export revenues". Waiariki is New Zealand's fastest growing tertiary institute and a key provider in the Bay of Plenty. Based in Rotorua, it also has campuses in Taupo, Tokoroa and Whakatane.
There are now almost 1000 equivalent full-time international students at Waiariki contributing more than $10 million in export sales, almost 20 per cent of Waiariki's total revenue.
"Waiariki is carving out a position for itself in a truly global market place, [it is] attuned to evolving stakeholder requirements, and consciously benchmarking itself against other providers in the sector," the judges said.
"They are establishing a global network of agents and partner institutions, and believe that 'word of mouth' advertising is the most effective marketing tool around."
Judges said Waiariki was teaching workplace skills critical to the export sector and providing a uniquely New Zealand experience to thousands of young people from around the world.
"With its bicultural approach and multicultural population, Waiariki promotes a holistic commitment to strengthening and supporting Maori and non-Maori students. The enthusiasm, enjoyment and commitment from everyone on the campus is clear to see, and the results speak for themselves."
Surtees Boats was named the United Travel Business Emerging Exporter of the Year. The Whakatane company designs and builds aluminium trailer boats for fishing and recreational use.
Judges said Surtees overcame considerable obstacles to establish a presence in the Australian market and have established solid relationships with core dealer networks.
They praised Surtees for its ability to customise each boat to end user requirements, embrace social media, and harness consumer marketing to its advantage.
Switchkites Ltd took out the Page Macrae Engineering Innovation in Export Award. The company, with its head office in Kawerau, designs and manufactures kite surfing equipment it then sells direct around the world.
"Switchkites have built a large following of customer advocates in a short space of time with their innovative approach to direct supply and supporting their team riders," the judges said.
"Innovation culture is seen throughout the business, from their products through to tracking of individual products for after-sales service. The judges were impressed by the infectious enthusiasm of the team for their brand and product."