Waikato businesses taking a good hard look at their performance in unprecedented times and being chuffed at their achievements is thought to be behind record entries for this year's Waikato Business Awards.
It's also the reason judges chose a record 22 finalists from the total of nearly 80 entries, with head judge Dr Heather Connelly of Waikato University noting something special about this year's competition.
"As someone who has been engaged for a number of years with the awards, there was something extra special this year and maybe that is in part due to having to rethink business due to the global pandemic.
"All the businesses who entered were seriously focused on how they can make a difference to the region, economically, socially and environmentally. As judges, this really made the process even more challenging than previous years."
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Waikato Chamber of Commerce events and marketing manager Sarah Hogan said the number of entries - nearly double last year's - suggested not only did Waikato Inc want to celebrate achievements in a highly challenging environment of lockdowns and restrictions, but businesses had had time to think about strategy and goals and conclude they'd done a good job.
There had also been record entries for the chief executive of the year and emerging leader awards, Hogan said. There is no finalist list for the chief executive award. The number of entries for both awards was confidential.
Finalists are: Balloons over Waikato, Beca, Body Fit Training Hamilton CBD, Clean Boss, Creative Waikato, DEC Pharmaceutical, Designwell, Discover Waitomo, Fish City Hamilton, Hamilton Airport, Jet Park Hotel Hamilton Airport, Mighty Local, Momentum Waikato, Noke, Old MacDonald's Rural Education and Care Centre, RoomMate Cabins, Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari, Shift72, Spring Sheep Milk, SWIFT, The Instillery, Waikato Hauraki Coromandel Rural Support Trust.
Emerging leader of the year finalists are: Raewynne Person of SVS Laboratories; Philip Butler, DEC Pharmaceuticals; Kirsty Norton, Results Group; Dr Jeremy Mayall, Creative Waikato; Emily Cleland, HD Geo.
Category winners and the Foster Group Supreme Business of the Year winner will be announced at a gala dinner on November 12 at Claudelands Events Centre.