Cardrona, van Asch win business awards

Representing Supreme Business of the Year Award winner Cardrona Alpine Resort are (from left)...
Representing Supreme Business of the Year Award winner Cardrona Alpine Resort are (from left) head of sales Mat Woods, general manager Bridget Legnavsky and Wayfare Group chief executive Richard Lauder. Photos: Sheena Haywood
Cardrona Alpine Resort and bungy pioneer Henry van Asch were the big winners at Saturday’s Queenstown Chamber of Commerce Westpac Business Excellence Awards.

Cardrona won the Supreme Business of the Year Award, and also the large business of the year and workplace safety awards.

In her victory speech at Skyline Queenstown, general manager Bridget Legnavsky thanked retiring chamber CEO Ann Lockhart for inviting the ski resort, which is closer to Wanaka, into the Queenstown business community.

Lifetime Achievement Award winner Henry van Asch.
Lifetime Achievement Award winner Henry van Asch.

Ms Legnavsky — who chairs the Ignite Wanaka Chamber of Commerce — told the audience of almost 300: "This means so much to us, but I think the big thing for us is that we got wings five years ago when Real Journeys bought us."

Richard Lauder, chief executive of Real Journeys parent company, Wayfare Group, said: "We discovered some gems at Cardrona, and it wasn’t just the mountain, it was the people."

He singled out Ms Legnavsky, whom in an earlier speech he called "the greatest leader in this part of the world".

He added: "Our business strategy of moving into summer and being able to expand into an organisation that now employs 50 to 60 people fulltime makes such a big difference in terms of continuity, in terms of delivering ... innovation and performance."

The award judges said Cardrona stood out for its strength in all aspects of its business, including product range, environmental sustainability, community support, staff training and engagement, health and safety, and financial performance.

AJ Hackett Bungy New Zealand co-founder and managing director Mr van Asch won the Queenstown Chamber of Commerce Lifetime Achievement Award.

Appropriately, the honour came just nine days before the company celebrates its 30th birthday.

He recalled on the first day, he and co-founder AJ Hackett, who later parted ways, hosted 28 bungy jumpers, and that along with supporters there were also some sceptics, among them "my good friend and esteemed mayor Jim Boult".

He said Mr Boult was mowing his lawn when the opening day cavalcade went past "and Jim thought, ‘Oh, just another bloody stupid idea, that’s never going to last"’.

"When we did start, Queenstown did get a large boost ... and I figured it made a big difference to Queenstown’s future at a time when it needed a bit of revival, and we were glad to be able to provide a catalyst to lead the adventure tourism boom."

Other award winners were: SME business of the year, Erik’s Fish & Chips; excellence in tourism, activities or events, Active Adventures; excellence in construction, trade or services, Warren & Mahoney Architects; excellence in hospitality or accommodation, Sofitel Queenstown Hotel; excellence in professional services, Ocula; innovation, First Table.

- Philip Chandler

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