Chris and Denny Allen think it’s time for someone else to keep pushing Wanganui Enterprises, as they both head into retirement at the end of the week. Photo / Bevan Conley
The Wanganui Enterprises team are all smiles as Christmas approaches after winning the 2021 ACC Attitude Employer Award.
The award recognizes an employer who offers exceptional recruitment and retention opportunities for people with disabilities.
Wanganui Enterprises defeated OCS Limited West Coast and Westpac New Zealand to win the award.
The Attitude Awards are usually celebrated with a gala dinner in Auckland but, due to Covid-19 restrictions, the team watched a live screening of this year’s awards on television last weekend.
“Absolutely thrilled, so thrilled,” said COO Chris Allen.
“It’s a great place. It’s great to see young children coming here without confidence, their heads down, not wanting to talk to anyone.
“Six months later they’re smiling and moving on to the next job. It’s so awesome.”
It was the perfect farewell for Chris and Denny Allen (Head of Training and Human Resources), both of whom are retiring at the end of this week.
A celebratory lunch was held at their workshop on Wednesday, celebrating the Allen’s award and retirement before leaving for the Christmas holidays.
The couple were praised by their colleagues for the impact they have had on the organization.
“It’s been absolutely great working with all of you. It’s been a real pleasure. We have a real factory there. It’s a long way from where I started, so it’s great to see,” said Chris.
Denny said it was a privilege.
“I feel like I’ve been here for so long,” she said.
Wanganui Enterprises, a charitable foundation established in 1979, provides training and jobs at its London St factory, producing wood and metal products that are sold throughout New Zealand.
The most sought-after product is its Five Star kennels and runs lined with untreated macrocarpa. It also makes beehives, garden trellises and planters.
Wanganui Enterprises was nominated for the award by Workbridge employment consultant Jan Lawton, who also presented them with an Above and Beyond award for International Day of Persons with Disabilities earlier this month.
Lawton said she had worked with the Allens for over 10 years and they were “a perfect match” to each other.
“It’s been a great relationship. We have quite a few people who have come here for work.
“They are unique and have led the way in supporting and employing people. “
Lawton praised Wanganui Enterprises for raising environmental awareness by selling offcuts as firewood and kindling as well as donating products they may no longer need.
“The award has international significance. It’s really amazing,” Lawton said.
Pacific Helmets, Axiam Plastics and Horticultural Services of Whanganui were all finalists, while GPSOS Alarms won the award last year.
Whanganui paraclimater Rachel Māia won the Sporting Endeavor award in 2018, and Whanganui young actress Libby Hunsdale won the Attitude Youth Courage award in 2020.
Denny Allen said that while he would miss the organization, it was time for someone else to run Wanganui Enterprises.
“We’ve done pretty well, haven’t we? It’s fantastic for little Whanganui.
“It’s time to bring some new blood here. I think we’ve done everything we can. It will be great to have different ideas, different people to take it to the next level.
“I think we left a good platform for them.”
Wanganui Enterprises will return to the workshop on January 17 after a well-deserved Christmas and New Year’s break.