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Stratford Press - 2021-10-13

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The best in business

News

Ilona Hanne

The best of the best of businesses in Stratford were celebrated on Saturday night at the 2021 Stratford Press Romeo Awards winners celebration evening. Organised by the Stratford Business Association (SBA), the Romeo Awards are always a popular biennial event, and while this year the usual gala evening couldn’t go ahead, there was still plenty to celebrate on Saturday night. SBA chairman Matthew Dimock says this year all bar the supreme award winners were announced online with individual videos launched on the SBA Heart of Taranaki Facebook page over the past week. “With the current Covid-19 climate and the uncertainty of when we will return to alert level 1, we had to make the hard decision to cancel our big awards event and made the decision to go digital.” The move to the online announcement of nine of the 10 awards wasn’t the only change, he says. “The familiar format of the Romeo Awards has been nomination based with a focus on customer service. This year, we wanted to focus on the many different aspects that go into running a business and asked organisations to enter themselves. We were extremely happy with the response, the calibre and the number of entries that were received. “We would like to give a special thanks to our sponsors for their continued support of the Romeo Awards through all of the changes and a massive congratulations to all entrants, nominees and winners for the 2021 Stratford Press Romeo Awards,” says Matt. “We were very grateful to be able to hold a small celebration on Saturday with winners and sponsors where we announced the 2021 Supreme Award winner, Stratford ITM.” Stratford ITM, owned by Mike and Kym Henry, was named the Supreme Award winner of the Stratford Press Romeo Awards, as well as receiving the Excellence in Customer Service Romeo Award. Kym says the awards are a testament to the “great staff” who make up their team. “We are proud to have won the awards and to be recognised for trying our best every day. Great staff is key to any business, they are the reason as a team that we win awards.” When it comes to their business, Kym says there are a range of things she and Mike value and see as the focus of their work. “Customer satisfaction, returning customers, gaining new customers and retaining customer loyalty is important to us. Providing a welcoming environment to shop in and providing free advice and staff with good product knowledge and skills is important to a successful business.” The business has a long and proud history in Stratford, she says, having operated for nearly 90 years, and is very much a part of the local community, supporting a huge number of local schools, sports groups and organisations over the years. Entering the awards isn’t about “claiming to be perfect”, says Kym. “It’s a team effort, where we all strive to be good at what we do, but also look to improve and remedy things if they haven’t gone right.” Winning awards is certainly not new territory for the team at Stratford ITM. This year the store was named the Supreme winner of WITT Top Shop Awards hosted by the Chamber of Commerce as well as winning the categories for Large Format Store and Accessibility as well as the Central Taranaki Regional award. In fact, Stratford ITM has won the Central Taranaki Regional Award at the Top Shop awards for a total of four years. Kym says Covid-19 has been tough on everyone. “Covid-19 has impacted everyone, but there has never been a better time for people to support local businesses where local families are employed and who support the local community and schools.” The team at Stratford ITM work closely alongside many tradies, and Kym says it’s important people support their local builders and tradies. “One of my biggest concerns in the past year is the mental health of our tradies as they juggle their jobs each week according to what materials are available, making it near impossible to stick to timelines and budgets with rising material and freight costs. Project managing in this environment is an absolute nightmare, especially remembering they also have their workers to pay and their own families to also worry about, as well as keeping their business afloat. “We do our best to supply their needs and maybe make them a coffee and ask how they are doing. I personally have family members in the industry and it’s hard to watch them under such pressure and know it’s not going to ease anytime soon. We service the majority of the local builders who make up about a third of our business, they also hire local people and support and sponsor local clubs, schools and organisations like we do, where would we all be without our tradies?”

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