"Does it make the boat go faster?"
Paul and Tania Dunn's motto has carried Marine North Ltd over the choppy waters of recession and to the shores of success with a business boat that is in top condition.
It's little wonder the couple scooped the Supreme 2014 Westpac Northland Business of the Year at Friday night's ceremony at Forum North in Whangarei.
They were stunned to win the supreme accolade too, having already bagged the Golden Bay Cement Excellence in Business Medium Business Award.
Last weekend, the business moved from Okara Drive to Kioreroa Rd due to expansion and as Paul thanked sponsors, his wife and his skilled team of eight, one of the team was still getting boats out to clients ahead of the Labour Weekend exodus to the water.
Eight years ago, Paul and Tania decided it was time to return home from Thailand.
It was during the franchise interviewing process after buying the business from Dave Cochran in 2006, that Paul heard the savvy words which still play in his mind.
"Well, you have enough money to buy it, but have you enough money to run it?".
"That was late 2006 when the economy was cranking up. In 2007 it slowed down and 2008, it stopped.
"Then I understood. The secret is to get knuckle down and do the basics right," he said.
It was Leah Peacock from Sudburys Chartered Accountants and Business Performance Specialists that helped Marine North map out their financial future.
"Now we ask, does it make the boat go faster - does it make us money and take us to the next level."
He said he and the team were flat out this weekend, with boaties requiring service and maintenance on boats, a task Marine North sees as being vital to the tourism economy.
They shared the spotlight on Friday with Jonete Ruatara, a papermaker from the Papermill Charitable Trust who accepted the Top Energy Best Not-For-Profit Organisation Award with business director Juanita Cleaver. The trust trains intellectually challenged and disabled persons in manufacturing beautiful paper products.
The Papermill was also joint winner of the Northland Regional Council Sustainable Business Award with Grinning Gecko Cheese Company.
Over 50 businesses entered the regional awards this year, which are organised by the Northland Chamber of Commerce.