By Amanda Morrall
Industrial magnet maker Bill Buckley of Buckley Systems Ltd was crowned entrepreneur of the year last night by accounting firm Ernst & Young at its annual awards dinner to recognise Kiwi businesses owners who are making a difference.
The New Zealand-based BSL, which employs 260 staff, is recognised as a world leader in the manufacturing of magnetic components that are used to fabricate silicon chips. The company's precision electromagnets, which supply 80% of the world's market, are poised to grow even more in demand with their use in a machine to treat cancer.
In his award speech, Buckley said the key to his success was individual doggedness, drive and passion, but he also credited a workplace culture where employees were treated like "one big family.''
Buckley said the business, which turns over a NZ$100 million a year, was built on the back of an idea, a vision and NZ$12,000 which he scratched together from friends and family.
He encouraged would-be entrepreneurs not to give up on their dreams or to have their hopes dampened by others. He jokingly confessed that his own father had turned him down for a seed loan in his early days.
Buckley, edged out finalists Doug Cleverly, Simon Gault, Victoria Ransom, Linda Jenkinson, Anthony Leighs and Sean Simpson for the title of Entrepreneur of the Year. He will go on to compete against entrepreneurs worldwide for the global awards in Monaco next year.
Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year Awards Director Jon Hooper said the finalists were inspirational for having managed through the global downturn and being bold enough to pursue opportunities where others might give up.
“Entrepreneurs operate in the same economic environment as everyone else and yet they continue to innovate and prosper. They create new business models and they create jobs. There’s something to be learned in that and something to celebrate.''
Hooper said while the candidates came from diverse backgrounds the key thing that united them was a passion for their work. He said passion, above all else, was most likely the key ingredient to making it as an entrepreneur.
He also suggested it was nurture more than nature that played a role in the making of greatness.
Last year's global winner of the prestigious business award, Olivia Lum, Group CEO and president of Hyflux Limited, began life as an orphan in Singapore.
From her dream of wanting to make a US$1 million, Lum transformed a US$15,000 start-up into a US$450 million company which is a world leader is desalination systems.
New Zealand finalists profiled in video clips shown at the black tie event at the Langham Hotel in Auckland also made clear that creativity, focus and conviction were essential ingredients.
Finalist Doug Cleverly, of Argenta Services, admitted to a work routine that often had him rolling up his sleeves at 2 am. with a TimTam and a cup of tea, so he could balance the demands of career and family life.
Special award winners Sir Ray Avery (of Medicine Mondiale) and Sir Graeme Douglas (of Douglas Pharmaceuticals) encouraged Kiwi entrepreneurs who made it big to keep their business based on-shore where possible and not to succumb to the lure of selling out.
Products; Dr Doug Cleverly, Argenta Services;
Simon Gault, The Nourish Group and Sous Chef
Technology; Sean Simpson, LanzaTech
Young; Victoria Ransom, Wildfire
Joint win: Bill Buckley, BSL - Buckley Systems Linda Jenkinson, LesConcierges
Commendation: Anthony Leighs. Leighs Construction