By Sigrid Tornquist
When Mark Philip, director of John Herber Ltd., dba The Canvas Technology Centre, Kaiapoi, New Zealand, decided to enter two projects into IFAI’s International Achievement Awards (IAA) program last year, he had no idea that the decision would result in a visit from New Zealand’s Prime Minister John Key.
Philip’s company won a 2009 Award of Excellence for its Rac-Tent custom-built modular shelter system designed to support scientific research in Antarctica. The frame was designed by Jim Davis of Rac-Tent Shelter Systems, and Davis commissioned Philip to design the blankets. Philip worked with Davis to design a three-layer blanket: the inner layer is a 12-ounce flame-retardant canvas, the outer layer is an 8-ounce poly-cotton canvas, and between the layers is a 500gsm wool horse cover for insulation. The company also won an Outstanding Achievement Award for its Scott polar tents, also for use in Antarctica and other polar regions.
On June 3, 2010, the Prime Minister came to Kaiapoi on other business and included a site visit to John Herber Ltd. After hearing about the company’s product innovations and awards, he wanted to tour the facility and meet the staff. “It was quite an honor,” Philip says. “It was also a little nerve-wracking at first, but he put us at ease right away.”