Leonard Gardner speaking at the 2021 Business Awards ceremony. Photo credit: Barker Photography

“It’s obvious that one of the key foundations of our community is the strength of Waikato business.”

March 2022

What does it take to win the Waikato Chamber of Commerce Business Awards?

Foster Group CEO Leonard Gardner says a winning business is well-rounded with a solid commercial offering, a clear strategy, and sustainable financials. Importantly, winning businesses tend to show strong commitment to their people and close interaction with other businesses to benefit the wider community.

Currently the major sponsor of the Waikato Chamber of Commerce Business Awards, Fosters was the supreme winner in 2017.

Leonard admits he was not enthusiastic about entering at first.

“I thought ‘there is so much we need to work on to get Fosters right’. Also, I didn’t think it was a good thing to put our heads above the parapet, so to speak.

“However, Foster leadership made a decision to enter – for the sake of the wider Fosters team.

“When it came down to it, the process proved to be very simple but also really beneficial. The questions that we had to answer helped us to critically reflect on the business. The awards judges came through and asked thoughtful and respectful questions. It was a highly positive experience.”

Fosters accepting the Supreme Award at the 2017 Waikato Chamber of Commerce Business Awards ceremony.

Anticipation of the awards night did a lot to bring the team together, everyone rooting for a win. “Winning the Supreme Award was beyond exciting” says Leonard. “It helped to boost our confidence and hugely improved the Fosters profile, which we have significantly benefited from since.”

The move to sponsoring the Awards was a natural fit – based on that experience as well as the clear alignment with the Fosters purpose of building ‘great communities through strong foundations’.

“It’s obvious that one of the key foundations of our community is the strength of Waikato business” continues Leonard. “As a community, it’s important that we recognise and celebrate success and versatility, all the while aspiring to do better. The awards do this well, recognising a raft of different business principles including service excellence, community contribution, sustainability and innovation. We are extremely proud to support the event.”

The 2021 Waikato Chamber of Commerce Business Awards saw a record number of entries. Leonard says this indicates the robustness of the Waikato business community.

DEC Pharmaceutical accepts their award at the 2021 Business Awards ceremony. Photo credit: Barker Photography
The DEC Pharmaceutical team poses with Foster CEO Leonard Gardner. Photo credit: Barker Photography

“It’s great to see more business leaders taking the initiative to critically assess their business and measure up against other businesses on a level playing field” he adds.

Entries for the 2022 competition will open in April. The awards are open to any business in the Waikato.