Winners of the 2019 RFUANZ Awards


Winners of the 2019 RFUANZ Awards

Six very deserving individuals were presented with awards at the 2019 RFUANZ annual Gala Dinner and Awards Night.

The Radio Frequency Users Association of New Zealand (RFUANZ) is a not-for-profit body comprising members who hold radio licences in New Zealand — such as power companies, local government authorities, transport operators, forestry companies and radio network operators — as well as others who have an interest in the radiocommunications industry, such as consultants, manufacturers and suppliers. The association’s motto is to “Protect, promote and preserve the rights of organisations and individuals who require access to the radio spectrum”.

Each year, the RFUANZ presents awards in several categories, to recognise and celebrate the achievements and contributions of outstanding members of the industry. The 2019 awards were presented on 1 May at the Gala Dinner and Awards Night in Auckland (held in conjunction with Comms Connect).

Here are the award winners and some information about their backgrounds and accomplishments.

Technical Excellence Award

The Technical Excellence Award was presented to Tony Howard of the St John New Zealand healthcare service provider. Tony joined St John in August 1989, working in the Dunedin Regional Control Room as a call taker/dispatcher. With a technical background from the New Zealand Post Office, he very quickly gained a reputation for wanting to know how systems worked. Tony’s influence stretches from ambulance installs to network implementations and the computer-aided dispatch environment, and he adds value across the board.

His first major project commenced in the early 1990s, when the ambulance sector implemented an upgraded national analog radio network comprising some 98 VHF repeaters across New Zealand. Tony has been involved in many projects since then and his technical ability and understanding of the big picture make him a true asset for John. In 2012, he was selected as a technical representative for the Whole of Government Radio Network (WGRN) project and was able to provide invaluable input.

Tony Howard, recipient of the Technical Excellence Award

Tony Howard, recipient of the Technical Excellence Award.

Outstanding Sales, Support & Service Award

The Outstanding Sales, Support & Service Award was presented to Roy Wittert of Cambium Networks. Roy exemplifies what sales, support and service represent. His testimonials speak about him being a professional, kind, patient, knowledgeable and positive sales engineer. He will never give up and always sees any communication with his customers as an opportunity. Roy always keeps up with the latest technology advancements and his excitement about the future of wireless in the IT world is infectious and genuine. Every year Roy runs many free events for the industry, providing valuable upskilling and insights into uses for RF technology in the future.

Roy Wittert, recipient of the Outstanding Sales, Support & Service Award

Roy Wittert, recipient of the Outstanding Sales, Support & Service Award.

Project Excellence Award

The Project Excellence Award was presented to Steve Hooper of Logic Wireless. Steve was heavily involved in Logic Wireless’s efforts as supplier and integrator of a turnkey trunked digital mobile radio solution for a new international catamaran sailing series in five locations around the globe. The radiocommunications for the first event in Sydney was a success due to the culmination of technical innovation, dedication, customer insight, agile project management and good old-fashioned hard work. What was evident in this nomination, which was reinforced by customer testimonials, was Steve’s ‘Can do, whatever it takes’ attitude.

Steve Hooper, recipient of the Project Excellence Award

Steve Hooper, recipient of the Project Excellence Award.

Employee of the Year Award

The Employee of the Year Award was presented to Malcolm Wallace of Communications Specialists. Malcolm joined Communications Specialists four years ago and, since then, he has been instrumental in getting projects completed with minimum fuss and great planning. He is always happy to help the team, and can turn his hand from a vehicle installation to installing and programming of a DMR Tier 3 network with all IP connections. Malcolm has built the Aurora DMR Tier 3 network, and maintains it, along with various other large networks. Malcolm is always professional and provides the sales team great advice on what is achievable, and usually if it’s not achievable he has a very viable solution. Malcolm was nominated for this award not just because he is great at what he does, but also for how he goes about doing things. Although very busy with multiple projects and jobs, he will always be available to help, or fit a quick job in between what he is doing, and always keeping the customer at the forefront of all decisions.

Malcolm Wallace, recipient of the Employee of the Year Award

Malcolm Wallace, recipient of the Employee of the Year Award.

Apprentice of the Year

The Apprentice of the Year Award was presented to Leyton Smith of Dove Communications. An amateur radio enthusiast, Leyton approached Dove after discussing the potential for a career change with one of the company’s other young installers. When management met with Leyton, it was clear that he had a passion for both IT and radio and, with the growing convergence in the industry, it made sense for Dove to offer him a position.

Leyton quickly learned the job and has performed well above expectations, providing exceptional customer service and workmanship. He often goes above and beyond, arriving early, staying late or working weekends to accommodate customer needs and accomplish his tasks. Other staff members throughout the business benefit from Leyton’s enthusiasm and commitment and they have all noted that he is thorough in his work, provides in-depth detailed knowledge and consistently follows through to ensure tasks and projects are completed on time. He has also enrolled in the New Zealand Certificate in Electrotechnology (Level 3) to further advance his qualifications.

Leyton Smith, recipient of the Apprentice of the Year Award

Leyton Smith, recipient of the Apprentice of the Year Award.

Lifetime Service Award

The Lifetime Service Award was presented to Trevor Laughton of Tait Communications. Shortly before Christmas last year, Trevor retired after almost 40 years in land mobile radio, all of them spent in Christchurch with Tait. Everyone who knows or has worked with Trevor speaks very highly of him. His commitment to the industry and bringing on young talent was fundamental to Trevor’s outlook, as was his determination to support the company’s commercial health and the legacy of company founder Sir Angus Tait.

Trevor had a passion for radios since the age of 10. At high school he was invited on a Tait tour by company engineer. It must have made a lasting impression, as he decided to pursue electrical engineering at Canterbury University and gained summer employment on the assembly line at Tait. Upon graduation, Trevor joined a team of about 35 engineers at Tait initially assigned to working on base station power supplies and a new range of AM mobile radios. He returned to university to gain his Masters in Electrical Engineering, and upon completion, returned to Tait.

Trevor Laughton, recipient of the Lifetime Service Award

Trevor Laughton, recipient of the Lifetime Service Award.

As he rose through the ranks of the business, he added commercial acumen to his skillset. Trevor held responsibility for Tait’s product roadmaps, intellectual property, marketing and research. Senior posts included Technical Director for 15 years and Chief Technology Officer (an executive director role with a seat on the board of directors). At retirement he was General Manager of the New Zealand business.

Before Sir Angus Tait died in 2017, he put Tait ownership into a trust structure and charged the trustees with watching over the company and the industry. Sir Angus made Trevor one of those trustees, a post he continues to hold. In recent years, Trevor has given substantial time to ensure that relations between Tait, the Trust and the University of Canterbury are constructive and productive.

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