Ashburton's Carrfields Irrigation company has won 2016's IrrigationNZ Innovation Award in association with Aqualinc for its innovative irrigator stabiliser.
Now that business has grown so much that he and his family own one of New Zealand’s larger agribusinesses after last year adding Elders NZ to their already expanding network.
The Carr Group was already involved in dairying, farm equipment, seeds, contracting and other farming businesses, but last year’s purchase of Elders gained the company more national attention and spread its interests to include, among others, wool and livestock interests.
The group owns Winslow Ltd, NZAMG (Claas Harvest Centre Canterbury), Winslow Dairy Centre (Lely Centre Ashburton), Winslow Contracting, T-L Irrigation Systems, Circle Auctions, Canterbury Seed, Pacific Seed, Winseed and Smallbone Automotive.
Managing director Craig Carr believes the company has two key ingredients that help it identify with the country’s rural sector: it’s a family business and is NZ-owned and operated.
Carr family members in the business include Craig, his brothers Ryan and James, sister Stacey McKerchar, and parents Glenys and Greg Carr.
Carr says the Carrfields name developed from talking with customers, suppliers and its own people. “It was clear our family name Carr should be a key part of any brand and because our business started in the paddock, ‘field’ was added to give the name Carrfields.”
Carr hopes the Carrfields brand will grow to mean integrity, which he says is a key value of their business. “We stand behind our service, people and products and we want our customers to know that.”
He says the livestock business will be the first part of the business to go under the new brand, which will be progressively rolled out through other parts of the business during the year. Irrigation will be next, followed by contracting and the seeds business – which will nationally be known as Carrfields but keep the Canterbury Seeds, Pacific seeds and Winseed brands.
“The joint venture wool business has already been branded Carrfields Primary Wool – CPW – while our machinery division will stay under the Claas brand, and the Lely dairy business will stay under that name,” Carr adds.
He says the next 12 months will see a roll-out of the Carrfields brand, enhancing their business and ‘getting better’.
“Our focus over the next year or so will be about pulling the business together and looking at how we grow.”
Carr says this means attracting people to the business by outlining who and what Carrfields is. This will include talent attraction and management. “Developing our people is vital because without our people we don’t have a business.”
Carr says they also need to keep working on how the business adds more value for farmers while at the same time making safety of both its people and products a priority.
He adds that environmental issues for the agricultural sector will remain a big challenge.
“We have to look at how we deal with these environmental challenges as a business, be that through precision agriculture, better seed breeding and genetics.”