Fulton Hogan describes itself as "a pretty humble business" and keeps its head down, getting on and completing large infrastructure construction and road maintenance in New Zealand, Australia and Fiji.
But having grown its diversified business for the sixth successive year, Fulton Hogan has been cast in the spotlight. The Christchurch-based contractor won the 2Degrees Best Growth Strategy category in the Deloitte Top 200 awards.
"It was a surprise that we were actually nominated," said Fulton Hogan's chief executive, Cos Bruyn. "We wouldn't normally put ourselves out there. The business has been set up for success and we have taken advantage of market opportunities on both sides of the Tasman — that's a reflection of hard work by our team."
Bruyn said Fulton Hogan has made sound strategic investments and runs a portfolio of activities. "The current market conditions have allowed us to grow across the board. All parts of the business have contributed to the growth story and secured additional work."
The Deloitte Top 200 judges said Fulton Hogan had a standout growth strategy and was a great performer in an industry where others had not succeeded — including in Australia.
Fulton Hogan has successfully moved into Australia, diversified its business without losing sight of core capabilities, and has a strong focus on health and safety, said the judges.
The Fulton Hogan group, which employs 7787 people, enjoyed a 28 per cent increase in revenue to $4.7 billion for the 2018 financial year — with the Australia business contributing the majority of the rise. Net profit increased slightly to $180.1 million, from $179.6m in 2017.
The company's annual report said all business streams, with the exception of Australian Construction, delivered sound financial results. The New Zealand business, which now incorporates Fiji, was a standout, followed by the newly formed Australian Infrastructure Services, Australian Utilities, and Land Development businesses.
Infrastructure Services continues to surge, with Fulton Hogan being awarded a nine-year contract with Sydney Airport for grounds maintenance, and securing the VicRoads South Central maintenance contract that takes in more than 3600km of roads and nearly 600 bridges.
Fulton Hogan delivered four major dam projects in Australia — Arraw, Cooloolabin, Wappa and the Boondooma spillway upgrade. Australian Utilities is performing well in the National Broadband Network project.
Fulton Hogan successfully tendered for the 9.6km Albion Park Rail Bypass project on the New South Wales South coast, and the Inland Rail works for the Parkes to Narromine section in New South Wales as part of a joint venture.
Bruyn said Australia now makes up more than 50 per cent of the business and it's a buoyant market. There's more infrastructure development in Australia in all states but particularly New South Wales and Victoria.
Of New Zealand, he said "we are finding a bit of slowdown in upper South Island — around Christchurch, and in Nelson and Marlborough.
"We've broken the back of the work following the North Canterbury earthquake and this will get worked out within the next two years.
"We don't rely on doing the same thing. We have a number of strings to our bow and if there is a slowdown in one area, other parts of the business will continue to perform. The diversity of our offer has been beneficial to business performance."
Fulton Hogan this month took control of Stevenson Construction Materials, which has quarries and concrete plants, transport, laboratory services and associated plant and equipment.
Stevenson provides Fulton Hogan with a long-term supply of quality aggregates in two of the country's largest markets, Auckland and the Waikato.
"We are focused on long-term returns and Stevenson has similar family values and is a natural fit," said Bruyn.
Finalist: Delegat Group
Spurred by growth opportunities in North America, Delegat is well on the way to becoming one of the world's leading suppliers of super-premium wine.
Delegat, which has just completed a record financial year, is still the number one premium wine company in Australia on sales (800,000 cases) through the Oyster Bay and Barossa Valley varieties.
Sales are also growing in the other mature markets of Canada, Britain and New Zealand, but Delegat sees exciting potential in the largest market of the United States.
"Consumers there are increasingly drinking premium wine and we are seeing a broadening of the consumer base," said Delegat managing director, John Freeman. Sales volume in North America increased 10 per cent to a record 1.25 million cases in the year ending June 30, 2018.
Delegat has 50 of its 150-strong sales and marketing team based in the United States working alongside its distributors and wholesalers.
The Top 200 judges said Delegat had managed to create sufficient scale as a New Zealand wine maker to control distribution, meaning it is positioned to deliver greater margins.
Freeman said the growth strategy was based on having the right supply and quantities, having quality and not disappointing the consumer, having brand connection such as Oyster Bay and Barossa, and having a strong distribution network.
Over the past year Delegat invested $47m in New Zealand and Barossa Valley buying more land and developing its wineries and vineyards.
Freeman said an additional $33m will be invested next year to provide future earnings growth.
Delegat's sales reached a record 2.74m cases in the last financial year, up 3 per cent, and it is planning to hit 3.38m cases by 2021, representing a 23 per cent increase over the next three years. Delegat's operating revenue was $272m, up 8 per cent, and its net profit after tax $45m. It has strong cash flows from operations of $58m.
Finalist: Skyline Enterprises
Adventure tourism company Skyline Enterprises is flying high with the growth of its luge operations overseas, particularly in South Korea and Singapore.
Thrill-seeking Asians of all ages have taken to the luge rides and the patronage has exceeded Skyline's expectations. During 2017-18 Koreans travelled from all parts of the country to the Tongyeong operation and amassed 1.9 million night or day rides.
Skyline is planning to open another luge ride in Busan next year, and the Sentosa operation in Singapore has been expanded, including adding an Alpine Coaster, to cater for record patronage.
The Top 200 judges said Skyline had taken an iconic New Zealand business overseas and developed an amazing niche and best practice internationally.
"Adventure tourism is being exported, the judges said. "It is a great New Zealand story."
Skyline also operates two seasonal luge operations in Canada (Calgary and Quebec) which produced improved performances. It is opening two new operations in Sheffield and Swansea in the UK, and in total Skyline achieved 7.2m luge rides including Rotorua and Queenstown during the last financial year.
Chief executive Geoff McDonald said "we are getting lots of inquiries for our luge operations — it's amazing how they have developed. In New Zealand there were only so many luge tracks we could put in (Rotorua and Queenstown) and we've had the opportunity to export them.
"We will keep improving the operations and make the tracks interesting and fun but safe."
Skyline is developing its Queenstown operation over the next four to five years, increasing the gondolas from four to ten seats, expanding the restaurant and conference centre, and adding night luge rides on the shoulder seasons of winter.
"We want to future proof Queenstown for 10 to 20 years," said McDonald.
"We've seen the tourism sector steadily increase over the past two years and we definitely think there will be continued growth."
Skyline had operating revenue of $224.4 million for the year ending March 31, 2018 compared with $198.3m in the previous year. Net profit was $40.8m, down from $68.1m but this reflected reduced revaluation of commercial properties and Christchurch Casino goodwill impairment.
The trading profit increased 12 per cent.
Skyline's market capitalisation recently tipped over $1 billion for the first time.