Simon and Deborah Ward celebrate their win.
The crème de la crème of New Zealand’s top business entrepreneurs came out to play last week at the Westpac Auckland Business Awards/WEST. The guest list, a who’s who of emerging and established industry leaders, all vying for top honours at one of the most celebrated business awards events in the country. A finalist in two areas, A-Ward founder and GM Simon Ward is thrilled with the three awards he and his team scooped on the night, including the coveted ‘Supreme Business Excellence Award’ (overall winner for West region).
A-Ward beat out some impressive competition, taking top honours in the categories of ‘Excellence in Exporting’ and ‘Excellence in Innovation’ before going on to take the top Supreme Overall Winner. The awards mark a real milestone for Ward and his team who have experienced significant global growth in recent years, resulting from their ongoing commitment to quality and innovation.
“A-Ward's underlying goal is to empower our customers to transform their business performance through our own ongoing commitment to the development of intelligent and innovative products,” says Ward. “We offer our customers the ability to compete more effectively and profitably in their markets whilst becoming more productive and environmentally friendly.”
A-Ward’s first Grapple Jaw attachment for excavators was produced in 1998 and it signaled the start of what has been a journey of innovation for the New Zealand based company. Their expertise in specialised mechanical attachments grew into product lines to enable faster scrap steel processing which then laid the foundation to A-Ward developing their game-changing container tilter. Having spent the day observing a customer operation in Houston, Texas, Ward then returned to his hotel room to design the world’s first container tilter. Launching in 2006, it enabled faster and more efficient container loading and unloading, there was nothing like it available on the international market and demand soared in yards and ports worldwide.
Now approaching their 20th anniversary, A-Ward has gained a name for itself as a world leader in providing total solutions for the scrap processing, demolition and bulk material handling industries. They have transformed business performance for thousands of companies across the globe, having recently supplied their state of the art equipment to Coca Cola in the US, Toyota in Japan, a Heineken brewery in Congo and recently installed a fully customised unit locally at Heinz Watties in Hastings, New Zealand.
Ward has a penchant for creating inspirational solutions to complete a task more quickly and efficiently. He is a passionate entrepreneur whose ingenuity and can-do attitude, coupled with a commitment to excellence, has led A-Ward to international success. He and his wife Deborah – who heads up the strategy and marketing side of the business have built a team of highly motivated staff at their Penrose-based factory in Auckland. Together they have assembled an advisory board whose members read like a who’s who of the Auckland business community, and a network of agents and distribution partnerships around the world. Exporting to 48 different countries and having cemented themselves firmly in the United Kingdom as the industry leader, their focus has now switched to keeping up with the rapid demand being generated in the South American market by the booming Brazilian and Chilean economies.
“Some of our largest export sales have been to Brazil, Chile, Canada, United States, France, Kazakhstan, Russia, Japan and Thailand,” explains Ward. “We’ve had average revenue growth of 36% per annum for the past three years.”
Ward attributes this growth to implementing a management style and structure that enables the company to adapt and change rapidly, and, in addition to this, the creation of a team-based success culture, allowing everyone to be involved and rewarded by the company’s ongoing growth and achievements.
A-Ward to date has received a number of national and international business and exporting accolades including the ‘Deloitte’s Fast 50’, ‘NZTE Excellence’, ‘Lloyd’s List Australian Shipping’, ‘ExportNZ’ and ‘American Chamber’ for its growth, enterprise, leadership and innovation. A-Ward also attained the coveted Swedish Steel Prize in 2012, and the team are thrilled to add last week’s Westpac Auckland Business Awards/WEST – Excellence in Exporting, Excellence in Innovation and Supreme Business Excellence Award (Overall for West region) to their ever-expanding CV.