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Confectionery company RJ’s Licorice is the winner of the inaugural ASB Wellington Exporter of the Year Award.
The award was announced at a sold-out gala dinner at Te Wharewaka on the Wellington waterfront. 
Entrants had to be based in the Wellington region, which includes Horowhenua, Manawatu, Tararua, and Wairarapa down to Wellington.
Also contesting the Exporter of the Year were online children’s learning company Storypark, of Wellington, which won the Wellington Airport Emerging Exporter Award; electricity retailer Powershop, of Wellington, which won the CentrePort Excellence in Services Export Award; architectural mesh manufacturer Kaynemaile, of Petone, which won the MFAT Innovation in Export Award; and playground surface manufacturer Matta Products, of Otaki, which won the Wellington City Council Most Sustainable in Export Award. 
RJ’s International Sales Manager Jason Clements said the company was delighted to win the supreme award.
“We are a small family-owned business based out of Levin.  Our staff are extremely loyal and have worked hard to help us achieve the high levels of growth that we are currently seeing.  We have significant plans over the next few years with export our key focus. 
“We look forward to taking both the RJ’s brand and Brand New Zealand further around the world which will enable us to give even more back to our community.”
John Milford, Chief Executive of Wellington Chamber of Commerce and ExportNZ Wellington, said RJ’s was a fitting winner of the inaugural award. 
“It’s great to see a family-owned business out there footing it on the world stage, and especially one from outside the big city. RJ’s clearly have big plans on the export front and we wish them all the best with that.
“I would like also to congratulate the category winners and the finalists. These awards show there are some very smart and innovative companies out there doing great work that helps push our local economy along.
“Exporters are New Zealand’s heroes. They’re out there fighting hard in the international marketplace every day, generating jobs and income to the tune of $70 billion each year to ensure we can maintain our standard of living.”
The ASB Exporter of the Year Award was presented by ASB’s Head of Trade Finance, Mike Atkins.
“We congratulate RJ’s Licorice on their outstanding achievement along with all of the winners and finalists,” he said. “High quality submissions made for close and intense competition.  
“ASB is excited about the future of exporting out of the Wellington region because we’re an ambitious bunch and strive to be, and do, the best for our customers. And we feel that Kiwi ambition can take us a long way. Smart collaborative partnerships will get us over the line.”
The keynote speaker at the awards was ExportNZ National Board member David Boyd, an experienced executive and company director with expertise in specialised manufacturing, medical devices, and consumer products – all focused on international markets.

Photo:  RJ’s International Sales Manager Jason Clements accepts the award. Photography by Tio Leota.

Glenn Baker

Glenn is a professional writer/editor with 50-plus years’ experience across radio, television and magazine publishing.


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