Tuesday, 30 October 2018 13:55

Leading his neighbourhood co-op

Written by  Sudesh Kissun
Brendhan Greaney, Tatua Dairy chief executive. Brendhan Greaney, Tatua Dairy chief executive.

Growing up in the dairy heartland, it was perhaps inevitable that Brendhan Greaney was going to end up in the industry.

In December, Greaney completes his second year as the chief executive of Tatua Dairy, having joined Tatua as general manager operations over eight years ago.

Tatua this month released its annual results and once again the co-op topped the payout stakes, paying suppliers $8.10/kgMS after retaining 52c/kgms for reinvestment

In his first full year as chief executive Greaney is pleased with the results: record revenues of $357 million, $24m higher than the previous year.

He attributes Tatua’s continued success to a wonderful group of staff and farmers associated with the 104-year-old company as well as the hard work and good decisions of many who have gone before.

“People involved with this business are committed like no other business I have been part of,” he told Dairy News.

Greaney grew up in Waitoa, not far from the Tatua factory in Tatuanui. His father was the operations manager at Fonterra’s Waitoa site as part of a 42-year career with the NZ Dairy Group.

Greaney recalls the school bus driving past Tatua on its way to St John’s College in Hamilton. 

After St John’s College, Greaney went to Waikato University to study for a bachelor of management studies. His OE took him to Kalgoorlie, Western Australia, where he worked in the mines for four years.

But the NZ dairy industry was never far from his mind. He returned in 1995 and joined the NZ Dairy Group in Te Awamutu. Five years later he joined the NZ Dairy Board as a commercial analyst.

He transferred to Saudi Arabia as plant manager and in three years became the general manager of Fonterra’s brands business in Saudi

In 2006, Fonterra appointed Greaney Regional General Manager Operations for SE Asia, Africa and Middle East business.

Greaney says he was ready for a change after four years in the role and nearly 10 years offshore.

And working in a company located four minutes drive from where he grew up “feels quite special”.

“To still be in the industry my father was in is a privilege for me. I’m delighted to be part of iconic company like Tatua.”

Greaney recalls there were three phones in their NZDG house they occupied when he was growing up: two private phones and a green one known as the factory phone. His father would use the factory phone to speak to the nightshift operator every morning to get an update on the overnight production.

One morning he overheard his father using expletives to describe Tatua while discussing the payout.

Greaney says when he got the chief executive’s role, the first thing he did was to drive home and tell his father the good news. His father’s reaction was,” Oh, Tatua has always been a good company.”

Greaney lost his father last year and says giving him news of his appointment and seeing tears rolling down his cheeks “ticked a big box” for him.

Like a family

Tatua's farmer shareholders and staff operate like a family, says chief executive Brendhan Greaney.

The co-op has 108 shareholder farmers and 370 employees.

Greaney says at a farmer meeting, one shareholder said to him, “I hope you have really looked after your people because they have really looked after us.

“This catches the connectivity and inter-dependency we have on each other; farmers rely on us to take their milk every day.

“They don’t worry knowing full well that we will do the best we can with their milk; and we rely on our farmers supplying us high quality milk every day as well. Like every family, we have our challenges; we look after and look out for each other and take on challenges together.”

 

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