Sunday, July 3, 2022

Contribution to economy recognised

Roger Hill, co-founder of the largest independent analytical laboratory service in New Zealand, is to receive an honorary doctorate from the University of Waikato.

Most farmers or orchardists in NZ would be clients of Hill Laboratories, based in Hamilton with branches in Christchurch and Blenheim.

Now employing 280 people, Hill Laboratories was started in a modest way by Hill and his wife Anne in 1984 in Hamilton East doing soil and foliage tests only.

They quickly expanded into environmental testing, followed by food and bio-analytical testing from 2000 onwards.

Hill purchased his former employer, Analytical Services of Cambridge, about 10 years after beginning business on his own account.

“The honour is in recognition of Dr Hill’s substantial contributions to the regional and national economy, and his services to science, to the University of Waikato, and to the wider community,” University of Waikato Vice-Chancellor, Professor Roy Crawford, said.

“His passion for adopting fundamental scientific discoveries for new analytical methods has created immeasurable benefits for our export industries and the environment.

“He has been a strong supporter of the university, offering work placements to our students and employing many of our graduates.”

A PhD chemist by training, Hill said Hill Laboratories has responded with tests and services on demand, making its base broader than those of competitors like AsureQuality, NZ Labs, ARL and Watercare.

While it enjoys good professional relationships with researchers, Hill Laboratories stays within the commercial space of routine analysis for the benefit of business.

The company spends between $1.5 million and $2m a year on new equipment, much of it designed to speed up routine tests and improve the working environment of staff members.

Hill said his close relationship with Waikato University included professional contacts with the scientists and as “a wonderful source of potential employees”.

He has also sponsored projects at MSc and PhD level and directly supported university activities targeting secondary school students, including the annual Rotary Science Summer School, the Analytical Chemistry Competition and ChemQuest.

“Hill has long-standing links with the Department of Computer Science, where his drive, enthusiasm and backing has been a key factor in the success of a collaboration to develop leading-edge software for data mining applications,” said the honorary doctorate citation.

He is a Fellow of the New Zealand Institute of Chemistry, and a member of the Royal Society of Chemistry and the New Zealand Institute of Agricultural and Horticultural Science.

Roger Hill grew up on a dairy farm at Te Aroha while Anne Hill is from a farm in Bay of Plenty. They both own a dairy farm near Cambridge.

Roger Hill attributes the growth of Hill Laboratories to five key aspects:

– Great people in the company.

– Passion and commitment.

– Doing it right and embracing quality.

– Taking the opportunities.

– Being in the right place at the right time.

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