Growth plans impress judges.

Bonze Lures of Opua is the recipient of the inaugural $30,000 grant from the Top Energy Business Development Fund.

The judges felt that the developments planned by this business had significant potential to help grow the Far North economy, in more ways than one.

Owner Graeme ‘Bonze’ Fleet, who has been crafting high-quality game-fish trolling lures in the Bay of Islands since he was at school, will use the grant to ramp up production significantly and to diversify his business.

“The judges liked the fact that Graeme thinks of his business as a brand and not just a product,” said Top Energy chief executive Russell Shaw. “He’s thinking big and clearly has some significant plans which we are delighted to help bring to fruition.”

bonze lures

Graeme ‘Bonze’ Fleet is the owner of Bonze Lures, recipient of the inaugural $30,000 grant from the Top Energy Business Development Fund. He plans to use the grant to ramp up production significantly and to diversify his Opua-based business.

Bonze Lures services the domestic market while also exporting to the United States and Australia. As part of this he attends many overseas fishing shows and expos, promoting not only his business but also the Bay of Islands as a travel and sport-fishing destination.

Fleet’s overall vision is to grow employment in the sport-fishing segment of the Bay of Islands tourism sector.

“I want to enable people who have decided to work in this sector to raise their families in the Far North, where they themselves grew up,” he said. “Too many are forced to leave the area to make a living and we can only reverse this trend if we can grow businesses that will help keep them here.”

Top Energy launched the Business Development Fund earlier this year as a replacement for the Tall Poppy Business Awards. The scheme is designed to encourage and promote economic growth in the Far North. Grants of up to $30,000 are awarded twice a year for local business ideas or initiatives that have the potential to grow or diversify the Far North economy.

The money is either awarded in full to a single stand-out idea or in smaller amounts to several initiatives, depending on the number, quality and merit of the applications received.

Fourteen companies responded to the inaugural call for submissions, advertised in local print and broadcast media during April and May.

Shortlisted applicants made detailed submissions and presentations to a panel of judges comprising a member of the Top Energy management team and two former Tall Poppy Awards judges; Jim Makaweo, business development consultant and founder of Makana Confections, and John Halse, formerly of Enterprise Northland and now a business consultant.

“We were delighted that we had such a strong winner for this inaugural grant,” said Top Energy chief executive Russell Shaw. “The quality of Bonze’s submission and his vision for the future of his business is proof that the spirit of entrepreneurship is alive and well across the Far North.”

Application forms for the second Top Energy Business Development Fund grant of 2014 will be available on the Top Energy website from 1 August.

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For more information please contact:

Peter Heath

peter.heath@topenergy.co.nz / 09-4074695 / 021-456353

or

Belinda Peddie, Top Energy

belinda.peddie@topenergy.co.nz / 09-4070603.