Innovation and a culture of entrepreneurship are strong in the West, driving sustainable development and productivity across the West region and providing vital employment for locals. Westpac Auckland Business Awards West Supreme winner Epicurean Dairy Limited is an outstanding example of a small, passionate team led by West Auckland business entrepreneur chefs Angus Allan and Ofer Shenhav.

Other winning West businesses include IQ Commercial, Blastacars West Auckland Limited, Libelle Group Limited, Heart Saver NZ Limited and Chrysalis Group Limited. Many entrants describe their own experience of needing a solution and when they couldn't find one, deciding to create a business from the opportunity.

The West Awards have highlighted great businesses such as Return to Sender Casket Ltd, Busy Body Auto Refinishers, Love My New Zealand, Miss Lolo and The Pure Food Co which have secured highly niche positions in their markets. These businesses have worked out how to meet specific demand and therefore a more captive market.

Like other regions, participating businesses follow rigorous business practices, citing a focus on working only with secured contracts, systematising and documenting best practice, maintaining tight debtor and cash flow controls (to ensure their time is spent on bringing in new business, not chasing done business) and differentiating their products, helping them stand out from competitors.

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For these businesses, financial control and solid planning has seen company sales growth of over 40 per cent and for emerging businesses, the success of becoming cash flow positive within a year and a half.

West businesses taking part in the Awards this year understand the importance of improving their skills in establishing collaborative relationships with local consultants, support services businesses, training organisations and tertiary institutes such as Unitec, which provides facilitation throughout the awards season.

The West Auckland Business Club (WABC), administered by Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (Ateed), offers a forum for local business networking and Auckland Chamber's workshops and events programme provides further insight and expertise.

Award winners:

Excellence in innovation
Sponsored by Canam Group
Winner:
Epicurean Dairy Limited

Epicurean Dairy Limited
Epicurean Dairy Limited

Epicurean Dairy Limited operates under the brand name The Collective. "Our passion is providing you with the greatest dairy imaginable... no bull!" says their website.

"We wanted to bring something with personality lead by new designs and global innovations. It's about having fun -- for us and the customer," say Angus Allan, chef/owner and Angela Vance, marketing manager.

Epicurean Dairy has introduced product innovations such as new flavour combinations, packaging options and specialty kids products to the gourmet dairy foods market.

Excellence in marketing
Sponsored by Unitec Institute of Technology
Winner: Blastacars West Auckland Limited

Blastacars West Auckland Limited
Blastacars West Auckland Limited

Blastacars are inventors of the first "Drift Kart" track.

"This Award shows that we are doing something right and is the extra push we need to pursue the international market" says Marketing Director, Chris Williams.

After seeking external support about three years ago, the Blastacars business has taken off, with Tiffany Zyp as Operations Manager, working closely with Chris.

"We are people with a passion for cars and we want to share it. It's our Kiwi ingenuity; Blastacars is the only place in the world that you can go 'drifting' in your car. We are a small, solid family business built on passion and a dream," says Williams.

Best emerging business
Sponsored by Air New Zealand
Winner: Chrysalis Group Limited

Chrysalis Group Limited
Chrysalis Group Limited

"It is awesome to win this award," says Chrysalis Group owner Dr Darius Singh. "For a new business it has lifted us into a space that the early childhood education community and sector doesn't usually get [into]. It gives recognition that we are in league with the rest of the finalists, which are in manufacturing, food innovation and IT."

"There's a definite formula that's been working for us -- it's childcare like you have never seen before," adds Dr Singh. "We want people to walk into our centres and say 'wow'. Our buildings and our leadership gives mums and dads the confidence to hand over their precious assets. And the key is our staff who do the conversion and get us across the line."

Excellence in customer service and delivery
Sponsored by Western Gas Limited
Winner: Libelle Group Limited

Libelle Group Limited
Libelle Group Limited

Libelle Group is a school food and beverage retail service provider with a tuck shop brand that has become a benchmark in the industry. Libelle Group delivers to 40,000 students in 32 schools every day.

"We were prepared to go through the highs and lows to achieve success. We also recognised that our business would develop over time and we made the early commitment to stay close to the customer, listen and experiment. Our kids' tuck shop needed change and this gave us a great reason to launch solutions that other school tuck shops would benefit from," says Johannes Tietze, business development manager.

Excellence in strategy and planning
Sponsored by UHY Haines Norton and Corban Revell Lawyers
Winner: Heart Saver NZ Limited

Heart Saver NZ Ltd
Heart Saver NZ Ltd

The judges commended Heart Saver NZ for its use of long term strategy, well-defined business targets and specific plans that have been implemented across the business  all of which have been fundamental to the businesses' success.

"We have a major incentive to bring through products that keep us ahead given our business is saving lives. We invest in research and have worked with the Cardiac Research Unit at Auckland Hospital as well as with experts in the US and Europe," says business owner Mike Mander.

Excellence in exporting
Sponsored by Babich Wines Limited
Winner: IQ Commercial

IQ Commercial
IQ Commercial

IQ Commercial provides furniture and outfitting options for workplace environments throughout the Asia Pacific region. Its research and design focus is targeted towards acoustic design, functionality, work life balance and future proofing clients' investments.

"We're competing against Fortune 500 companies like Google and Citibank. As a small player in a highly competitive market, we need to be at the top of our game -- and hold our own. Our applied research is a very important part of our product development," says Blair McKolskey, Director. "We also look at workplace productivity because we know that work spaces that engage with staff increase productivity."

Excellence in leadership
Sponsored by Douglas Pharmaceuticals Limited
Winner: Angus Allan, Epicurean Dairy Limited

Angus Allan
Angus Allan

Entrepreneur chef, Angus Allan lives and breathes the values of the business including a shared commitment to involving everyone.

"We have such a hardworking and fearless team in all areas of the business. Our team really put it all on the line to launch amazing premium yoghurt products that shape our business. I'm very proud of the team and dedicate these awards to them. Without their hard work and drive, I wouldn't be able to lead them," adds Allan.

The company has been experiencing phenomenal growth -- currently at 60 per cent per annum. "The bigger you get the more fun it becomes, and the more people you have to do it with," says Allan.

Supreme business excellence
Sponsored by Westpac
Winner: Epicurean Dairy Limited

Epicurean Dairy Limited
Epicurean Dairy Limited

"It feels amazing to have won the Supreme Business Award," says Epicurean Dairy founder, Angus Allan.

"Taking the opportunity to write the entries for the Westpac Business Awards meant we could reflect on all the work we have achieved in the last 18 months, which turned out to be a fair bit! The entries really helped the staff work together and think holistically about the overall business from new product development to sales to HR.

"We have even used the content for these awards to update new agencies or suppliers about how we've been tracking as a business," concludes Allan.

Finalists
Excellence in Innovation, sponsored by Canam Group
Blastacars West Auckland Ltd
Chrysalis Group Ltd
Epicurean Dairy Ltd
IQ Commercial
Return to Sender Casket Ltd

Excellence in Marketing, sponsored by Unitec Institute of Technology
Blastacars West Auckland Ltd
Busy Body Auto Refinishers
Love My New Zealand Ltd

Best Emerging Business, sponsored by Air New Zealand
Chrysalis Group Ltd
Epicurean Dairy Ltd
Heart Saver NZ Ltd
Miss Lolo Ltd
Silver Fern MotorSport Charitable Trust

Excellence in Customer Service Delivery, sponsored by Western Gas Ltd
Busy Body Auto Refinishers
Heart Saver NZ Ltd
Libelle Group Ltd

Excellence in Strategy and Planning, sponsored by UHY Haines Norton and Corban Revell Lawyers
Blue Barn Consulting
Heart Saver NZ Ltd
The Pure Food Co
Return to Sender Casket Ltd

Excellence in Exporting, sponsored by Babich
Calibre Ltd
IQ Commercial

Excellence in Business Leadership, sponsored by Douglas Pharmaceuticals
Angus Allan - Epicurean Dairy Ltd
Nikeeta Singh & Dr Darius Singh - Chrysalis Group Ltd
Tiffany Zyp - Blastacars West Auckland Ltd
Phil Bull - Blue Barn Consulting