How investing in innovation got a Kiwi business global

Luke Parker
How investing in innovation got a Kiwi business global

Being a global leader in any industry is an incredible feat, especially coming from a small country at the bottom of the world.

But South Auckland company Milmeq has defied the odds and come out on top, recently winning the Supreme Best of the Best Award at the Westpac Business Excellence Awards in Auckland.

Investing in the right people and places

The worlds largest plate freezers built by Milmeq

The worlds largest plate freezers built by Milmeq

Manufacturing protein processing plants around the world, Milmeq has set global industry standards. They designed and built the world’s largest plate freezers, developed a fully automated stock transfer system, and are at the forefront of the industry.

“We build the total plant from when the animal arrives at the abattoir,” says CEO Mike Lightfoot, “to walking down the race into the knocking box or stun box, right through to a bag of meat and off to the supermarket after its been chilled or frozen, depending on whether it’s being exported or for domestic.”

SEE ALSO: 5 ways your business can foster innovation 

Where the company excels is in their innovation and use of technology to streamline the entire process. Of their 123 staff across New Zealand, Australia and Mexico, the team include engineers, fitted welders, fabricators, design graduates, apprentices, and agents.

And it’s paying off, with the new systems they are pioneering becoming global standard, such as their plate freezing.

The Milmeq fully automated stock transfer system

The Milmeq Fully Automated Stock Transfer system

“We have designed huge aluminium plates where we can freeze between 3-5,000 cartons for 24-hours. And that’s all for export.”

The company is also forging ahead in the technology space, creating MFAST (Milmeq Fully Automated Stock Transfer).

“It’s basically a robot that puts the product away in the chillers or freezers and while it’s in there it picks orders and puts it out the other side. It’s completely hands free. In this day and age, the less hands that touch the product, the higher the quality the product is.”

Going global and getting recognised

While Australia is their biggest market, Mike says they also have provided systems all through Europe and the UK, the US, and South America.

Milmeq CEO Mike Lightfoot at the Westpac Business Awards

Milmeq CEO Mike Lightfoot at the Westpac Business Awards

“Depending on who it is and what it is, we will build a lot of it here in New Zealand and ship it. In some countries, we’ll manufacture in the country of origin – some of these being Australia and Mexico.”

With all the hard work paying off, Milmeq’s win at the Westpac Business Exellence Awards is something the company is exceptionally proud of.

“The key for me is the recognition for the people of Milmeq and how clever they are at innovation, design, and the way they work together to manufacture a product that we are pioneers in. What’s more, we’ve built at a quality that we can take into the global market.

“If you want to strive to become an employer of choice and bring good people into your business, you can’t fly under the radar. You actually need to get yourself out there and showcase the type of products and the industries you’re working in and what you do. To win something like this shows that we are a very legit, high-quality organisation.”

His advice to other businesses out there is to firstly believe they are very good at what they do, and then put their names forward to see how they measure up against others in the market.

“I encourage other businesses to have a crack at these awards because it puts something on the radar about the type of business they’re in and what they’re achieving.”

Westpac Business Excellence Awards

The Awards are run throughout New Zealand.

For more information around how to nominate a business as well as nomination deadlines, go to

SEE ALSO: 5 ways your business can foster innovation 

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