New inductees for North Harbour Business Hall of Fame

The North Harbour Business Hall of Fame has officially welcomed four new members and also awarded an inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award.

North Harbour Club's Business Hall of Fame Chairperson Matthew Bellingham says, "I couldn't think of a more deserving group of people to lead the beginning of a new era of recognising business success in the North Harbour region.

"We have so many inspirational leaders that either live in our region or have their main place of work in our region, and who apply their wealth of experience to benefit our community.  It is a privilege to be involved in recognising these people."

The North Harbour Club recently took over the Business Hall of Fame after a five-year break and is proud to be involved.  

The first inductees at last night's North Harbour Business Hall of Fame dinner were Paul and Liz Blackwell, who own Pak'n Save Albany, New Zealand’s largest and busiest supermarket, the SkyCity Breakers, and publishing company PQ Blackwell. They are great believers in giving back to the community and youth, and their philanthropy is wide reaching supporting the Well Foundation, YES Disability Centre, Heart Kids of New Zealand and Starship Hospital.

Their mentoring and support of the Breakers has turned New Zealand basketball around.  Since first taking ownership of the team 11 years ago they have won 4 Australian NBL Championships within 5 years and have grown a reputation as New Zealand’s most successful sporting franchise both on and off the court.

Paul and Liz have a family approach to every member of their team, they believe in creating an environment where other people can grow and the club has an international reputation of family values, success and professionalism. They’ve carried these values across New Zealand reaching thousands of youngsters, providing role models and inspiring communities through basketball academies and camps.

Paul and Liz are joined by John Spooner in the North Harbour Business Hall of Fame, the joint owner (with his brother Roger) of New Zealand’s largest electrical wholesaler, JA Russell Ltd.

Three friends Jack Spooner, Albert Hopkins and Russell Williamson originally founded the business in 1951. They began with an old house in Grafton as their warehouse and office where a high level of personal service resulted in spectacular growth and the motto was born: The House for Top Service. 
65 years later there are 68 branches employing more than 600 staff. The company has continued to grow and prosper and is still the House for Top Service. 
A life-long resident of the North Shore, John is a member of the
Rotary Club of Takapuna North and Trustee for YES Disability from the inception of the Resource Centre. The giving of his time and expertise continues to be a valuable resource for local charitable organisations and the community.
The fourth inductee is Annette Presley, who founded her first company, the IT recruitment firm Stratum, in 1987 at the age of 24.  Since then she has co-founded several successful telecommunications and information technology companies in New Zealand and Australia, including Call Australia,
CallPlus and i4free and Slingshot

The CallPlus organisation became New Zealand’s third largest telecommunications and broadband provider during her leadership. She was a leader in driving the unbundling of the local loop in New Zealand, which brought pricing down more than 50 percent and created competition. 

Annette works hard to encourage the next generation of women technology entrepreneurs, and is an investor and dedicated mentor to Creative HQ’s Lightning Lab XX programme, supporting start-up businesses with at least one female co-founder. She was patron of the charity StepUP that gives business inspiration to teenagers, and has actively supported Dress for Success, Shine and Kidz First Children’s Hospital. 

In 2015 Annette established her own charity Elicit – The Dream Catching Academy, which she set up to inspire and encourage young girls to cast off personal limitations and change their lives by dreaming big.

Closing the formal part of the night the inaugural Lifetime Achievement award was presented to Sir David Levene.

As a young lad, David worked most of the school holidays in his father and uncle’s paint shop filling bottles and tins with turpentine, weighing out the putty and serving customers. This involvement in the business at an early age eventually led him to take over management of the family paint business at the age of 22, and it was on a business trip to the United States in 1959 where David was exposed to trends that were to influence the future direction of the firm profoundly.  The most important of these changes were the advent of supermarkets, the rise of the shopping centre and the need for parking for any successful retailing.  As David later expressed, "It was like having tomorrow’s newspaper."

By 1994 there were a total 52 Levene retail stores, plus paint and wallpaper factories. David decided to sell the Levene chain to Skellerup and changed his business to Lewis Holdings Limited (in memory of his father). In 1995, David formed a property company called Quadrant Properties, which is a significant commercial property developer and owner.

Never one to favour the limelight Sir David believes that giving time is just as important as giving money and the David Levene Foundation is a generous benefactor to many charitable, educational and sporting organisations.

Pictured: Ralph Roberts, Annette Presley and Matt Bellingham.