Queenstown small business owner Deane Gray won’t be heavied – as the giant Accident Compensation Corporation has just found.
Gray warns other businesses not to be pushed round either: “ACC just tried to steamroller us.”
Gray and wife Belinda co-own Peninsula Distribution, which tangled with the state-owned insurer for almost two years over what category of ACC levy the firm should pay.
However, a district court judge’s decision earlier this month has had the couple breaking out the champagne, Gray says.
Their company, comprising three staff and a couple of trucks, distributes chilled foods for manufacturer Goodman Fielder.
During 2010, ACC tried to switch Peninsula’s levy classification from “freight forwarding services” to “road freight transport”.
Gray agreed freight forwarding wasn’t right – but nor was road freight transport, according to his accountant.
A lot of money was at stake, Gray says.
“It would have cost us heaps more – definitely in the thousands.”
An independent review in December 2010 backed Peninsula all the way – then ACC took the firm to the
Dunedin District Court to challenge the review finding.
“We weren’t sure how we were going to go in court but we were half-way in so we decided to go all the way – and we won that as well,” Gray says.
In his reserved decision, Judge Beattie found the scrap came down to whether Peninsula’s business activity was distribution or wholesaling.
The judge plumped for wholesaling, throwing out ACC’s appeal and ordering them to pay Peninsula $2000 costs.
Gray warns other small businessfolk not to just roll over and accept whatever levy category ACC lumps them into.
“Check out you’re on the right classification,” he says.