It's no accident that freight and logistics company Mainfreight is a global success story and has once again been recognised for outstanding achievement.
The company is always near the top of the list when it comes to broker stock picks because it rarely puts a foot wrong, constantly delivering in markets that are not always favourable.
And one of the main reasons Mainfreight is so successful is its strong company culture, well supported by a management team that understands the firm's people and its strategy.
It's these qualities that saw Mainfreight take out top honours as the Deloitte Digital/Marsh Company of the Year in the 2019 Top 200 Awards.
Mainfreight reported one of the standout performances of the 2019 year with strong growth in operating earnings in the international regions it operates in. US earnings, for example, increased 43 per cent; Asia by 35 per cent and Europe by 37 per cent.
"These results demonstrate Mainfreight is growing its market share in those large markets, underpinning growth in group profits for the year of 26 per cent and on total revenues of just under $3 billion," said Forsyth Barr managing director and Top 200 judge Neil Paviour-Smith.
"The market has recognised Mainfreight's impressive long-term track record and growing international presence with total shareholder returns in the September 2019 year of 35 per cent."
Since Bruce Plested co-founded the company in 1978, the company's strategy continues to bear fruit, despite operating in a more complex international environment.
Mainfreight has sustained strong financial performance over multiple years and was previously recognised as Company of the Year in 2011 at these same awards. Managing director Don Braid says Mainfreight has expanded its global transport and logistics footprint to reduce its reliance on the local market.
Now, its New Zealand, Australian, European and American divisions each generate about the same level of revenue, although the Kiwi business still offers the best margin. Mainfreight's Asian revenue is about a seventh of the others.
"We have a long-term view and we're interested in being around for 100-plus years from today so therefore it's all about making long-term decisions and setting the business up for the future," Braid said.
"Running a business here in New Zealand versus running a business that's in 26 countries around the world is a little different.
"You learn to deal with different cultures and that's been a valuable lesson as we've grown."
Where some New Zealand companies have failed in their international expansion, Mainfreight has painstakingly exported its unique 'special people, special company' culture and style of doing business.
"Success is about making sure you have got happy customers and you have happy people," Braid said.
"And I think we've got both probably.
"It's about finding growth and it's about having a passionate, energetic business with deep belief and integrity to grow a business around the world."
At its first half profit announcement last month, Mainfreight said earnings growth in Europe and America more than offset the trade war headwinds facing its Asian arm.
Mainfreight first gained a foothold in Europe in 2010 when it bought Wim Bosman for €110 million and turned the unit around after some early setbacks.
The business delivered a 6.3 per cent increase in first-half revenue to €193.8 million and a 33.6 per cent gain in ebitda to €13.9 million.
Meanwhile, revenue from its American operation rose 2.9 per cent to US$244 million in the first half of this year, while earnings lifted 22.3 per cent to US$13.4 million.
"Continuing profit improvement from Europe and the Americas has assisted overall performance, as we continue to improve margins and services in both regions," the company said.
Analysts said the New Zealand economy may have slowed but Mainfreight is still achieving positive growth rates and the outlook remains robust based on trading post balance date.
The only soft spot was Australia where Mainfreight continues to accelerate investment for scale and network intensity.
Mainfreight has key long term attributes, including a high marginal return on capital and a proven ability to adapt to changes in market conditions.
The company was built on a 100-year vision and all the signs are that it will be here for another 100 years.
Finalist: Meridian Energy
Meridian Energy has been a consistently strong performer since the company was partially privatised by the government in October 2013.
Since then the electricity gentailer's market value has increased by more than $8 billion, not including dividends, while its profits have tripled.
Award judges noted that Meridian grew operating earnings by 26 per cent to $838 million in its 2019 full-year result.
"Meridian grew customer numbers in all their geographies. And as a 100 per cent renewable energy company, the strong hydro conditions in New Zealand helped Meridian's results. Nonetheless the company's performance still exceeded expectations," judge Neil Paviour-Smith said. "This is reflected in the total shareholder return in the year to September 2019 of 67 per cent."
Strong hydro conditions in New Zealand and record wholesale electricity prices played a strong part in Meridian's financial performance along with successful investment into Australian electricity retailing and hydro generation through its subsidiary Green State Power.
Meridian shares were on a sustained incline until recently when Australian mining giant Rio Tinto knocked the wind out of the gentailer sails by threatening to pull the pin on the Tiwai Point smelter.
If the smelter was to close it would hit all of the electricity companies, although Meridian would feel it the most acutely with its South Island hydro dams and the fact it is the primary supplier to Tiwai.
Since Rio's announcement, Meridian shares have shed around 20 per cent but are still up about 40 per cent over a 12 month period.
Finalist: Delegat Group
Delegat Group's journey to become one of the world's leading premium wine companies remains strongly on course.
Its positioning as a top premium wine company in Australia and New Zealand owes much to the vision of its founder and group chairman Jim Delegat and strong execution by management as it drives harder into the North American market.
Delegat's strong single-brand strategy, exporting wine under the Oyster Bay brand has allowed it to maintain and increase pricing, despite the challenges of wine market conditions. The company exports wine volumes representing around 95 per cent of group sales.
"In the New Zealand wine industry, Delegat Group is a standout performer," Deloitte Top 200 judge Neil Paviour-Smith said.
"Over a long time they have successfully marketed their Oyster Bay sauvignon blanc to discerning wine buffs around the world and put New Zealand wines on the map and are also successfully positioning their Barossa Valley Estate wines in the super-premium category. Key to this has been controlling their own sales and distribution."
In the 2019 year, Delegat reported record earnings up 14 per cent on 10 per cent higher case sales, now over 3 million cases.
In August, Delegat posted operating earnings before interest, tax depreciation and amortisation at $99.3 million from $89.6 million, an 11 per cent boost.
In a presentation filed to the NZX, Delegat said the record results were a testament to the strength of its business model.
"Delegat is investing to support its strategic goal — building a leading global Super Premium wine company," he added.
Delegat saw a 30 per cent gain in case sales in its second-biggest market, the UK, Ireland and Europe.
Sales in its largest market of North America were up 7 per cent while Pacific sales dropped by 2 per cent to 780,000 cases.
Shareholders have shared in its success with total shareholder returns for the past decade over 22 per cent per annum.