First-time nominee Graeme McKenzie has walked away with the New Zealand Security Association's top award.
McKenzie, who is technical manager at Whanganui-based Alarm Watch, was named Security Professional of the Year at the NZSA awards in Auckland on August 23.
It was the first time McKenzie had been nominated for an award and, after winning the Security Specialist of the Year category, he was selected from the winners of the 18 award categories as Security Professional of the Year.
"I was up against a lot of very knowledgeable and qualified people," McKenzie said.
"That was a big surprise. I was quite teary-eyed on the night. Someone in the industry has to nominate you and it has to be compelling. They asked for a lot of references from other companies and some of the staff here at Alarm Watch."
The head of NZSA told McKenzie after the ceremony that his nomination was "overwhelmingly compelling".
McKenzie has worked for Alarm Watch "for 28 or 29 years" but has worked in security since 1983.
Alarm Watch is primarily a monitoring station and provides security alarm services. The company, which has about 60 employees, works with alarm installers around the country and monitors security alarms in every city in New Zealand.
"I facilitate that process," McKenzie said.
"I talk to various security companies and technicians on a daily basis. I also run a Facebook group for all the technicians. It's creating a community where we can help each other out and provide answers."
Many technicians worked for small companies and did not have in-house expertise to solve some problems so the Facebook group was particularly valuable for them.
"It raises everyone's standards.
"I like helping other people and I'm very glad that I work for an organisation that allows us to develop technology that can assist people around the country.
"I facilitate people connecting with the right information. Every time I help someone, I learn more.
McKenzie is the third Whanganui person to win the NZSA's top award since it was introduced in 1989. Ian Ross won in 2000 and Wayne Watson in 2002.
"It's kudos to a small company in Whanganui to be getting recognition from our peers," McKenzie said.
"We always push Whanganui around the country and are big advocates for how well Whanganui does on the stage in New Zealand."