Southern Hospitality, New Zealand's largest hospitality and
food service equipment supply company, was last night named
the supreme winner of the 2012 Westpac Otago Chamber of
Commerce Business Excellence Awards.
The awards were announced at a black tie function at the
University of Otago attended by more than 240 people.
In 1989, business colleagues Roger Fewtrell and Hyam Hart
were facing the loss of their jobs as the sharemarket crash
was taking its toll and the company they were working for was
closing its Dunedin branch.
Convinced they could set up their own company and deliver
products to the hospitality industry, they approached a bank,
and with a loan, three staff and a used green van, Southern
Hospitality was born.
Within 12 months, the company turned over its first $1
In 1996, a major competitor in Christchurch made three staff
redundant, so Mr Fewtrell employed those staff and opened a
second branch in 2001. That was followed by a branch in
Queenstown, after which the focus turned to Auckland where,
in 2002, the Parnell branch opened with 16 staff.
By 2005, there were branches in Nelson and Tauranga.
In the company's submission to the chamber judging panel, Mr
Fewtrell said one key to success had been the policy of
employing sales staff with hospitality industry experience
who were able to offer experienced-based total supply
solutions to the diverse customer base.
In 2008, sales of $60 million were recorded and by 2010, with
14 branches, Southern Hospitality was firmly established as
New Zealand's leading hospitality supply company.
Deliveries were often hampered by supply delays. The solution
was purchasing an interest in a stainless steel manufacturing
company in Christchurch. Two years later, Southern
Hospitality took an interest in a stainless steel company in
Auckland, followed by one in Wellington.
"This enables the company to deliver large projects on time
and at a competitive price," Mr Fewtrell said.
Last year, Southern Hospitality also bought into a joinery
business providing cabinetry and custom-built joinery.
Awards convener Ali Copeman said the standard of entries was
"extremely high" this year.
The awards are held every two years.
"We need to be congratulating ourselves and celebrating our
It was encouraging to see some of the larger companies
re-entering and winning awards this year, she said.
The Otago awards received more nominations and final entries
than both the Auckland and Wellington business awards
Otago chamber chief executive John Christie said the judges
had a difficult time short-listing the finalists because of
the high standards of entries.
"The entrants were put through a rigorous process before they
Mr Christie likened the process to a job application, where a
CV was presented followed by an interview process to confirm
the details and experience.
Mrs Copeman said the decision-making process was robust and
there were some strong arguments made during the selection
"These awards are about celebrating success across Otago. We
get surprised each time by companies we think we know, but at
a second look, they are doing so much more," she said.