Jason Trower and Vaughan Cook: Always Room for Improvement
Situated between the Kaimai Ranges and the Waikato River, you'll find the township of Morrinsville, also dubbed "Cream of the Country". The township is surrounded by acres of rolling pastures and it comes as no surprise that it has become a stronghold for dairy in New Zealand.
The town is built on agriculture, from the farm supply stores that line the streets, to the giant dairy cow sculpture known as "Mega Cow" at the southern end of the town. The rolling pastures drive the town's economy and are considered home to many. This is also where you will find Jason Trower, one of the owners of Kiwitahi Pastoral.
Jason has moved back to the Morrinsville area to take on the farming operations of Kiwitahi Pastoral with his brother. Originally from the area, Jason's parents ran the operation very successfully, but the two sons are now able to take some of the load. Jason actually grew up on the farm and after running his own IT (Information Technology) business for many years, he has found that his experience in IT has been helpful in the way they manage the farms.
He understands how to manage the business and the projects within it, but he also places a huge amount of trust in the people around him. There is clearly a great on-farm culture at Kiwitahi Pastoral and Jason says it stems from everyone being able to use their expertise and experience. They value the input of their entire team and give them the responsibility to drive the farms and assist in the decision making. When they took over the day to day running of the operation, Jason and his brother set out a business plan with people as one of the main pillars.
Kiwitahi Pastoral have taken it upon themselves to also make the environmental aspect one of their key pillars. As agriculture is the science and art of cultivating plants and livestock, Jason knows that they need to be in harmony with the environment and act with the importance of the future of the land at front of mind. While pressure has come from the media and general public in recent years, Jason is confident that the majority of farmers were doing the right thing, as they know that the land is how they make money.
Along with many other farms in New Zealand, Kiwitahi Pastoral are going well over and above the introduced legislation for farms. Jason and the team have fenced off their waterways with a significant buffer as they plan to plant natives throughout the property in the coming years. Despite the significant capital expenditure this would require, Jason said that he wants the farms working as an ecosystem "with birds, insects and fish in the waterways". The strive for excellence in their environment achievement of their farms can also be seen in other areas of their operation.
The team at Kiwitahi Pastoral take huge pride in the quality and wellbeing of their livestock. So much, in fact, that animal health is one of the 5 key pillars of the business. Vaughan Cook is the farm manager and Jason places great trust in him to monitor the health of the livestock on the property. They both drove home the fact that most farmers across New Zealand are doing really well by their animals. "Farmers have to care for their stock. They directly affect the bottom line. We do everything we can to ensure our livestock are well looked after and in the best condition that they can be." They are also in a drive to get to zero bobby calves from the property.
As the environmental and animal health aspects take a lead in the company, it has naturally led to an improvement in the on-farm infrastructure. Jason said that he will get involved in the larger projects and this would typically involve the improvements to their operation. One such project was underway and near completion. The team were in the finishing stages of their new calf rearing shed; a 10-bay lean to Strongbuilt Farm Building.
Jason said the decision to go with Goldpine was based on the fact they have always been competitive on price and the service down at the store. They have built a close relationship with the team at the Morrinsville branch and Jason says, "they are always happy to accommodate us when we make changes to our plans. They'll often chuck it on a truck to save us the effort". The timber frame was also a big selling point when purchasing their Strongbuilt Farm Building. With builders in the team, Kiwitahi Pastoral were able to build the kitset building themselves by following the detailed plans that come with the sheds. Even Jason felt comfortable helping out during the process.
Many would think that the jump from Information Technology to rural based, hands-on agriculture could be a step too far, but Jason has proved it is possible and, in fact, quite successful. The family has pulled on all their experience, across many industries, to deliver a profitable farming operation. They have created a family environment within the business where the staff enjoy their work, environment is considered at every step and animal health is paramount. Kiwitahi Pastoral have created a great example for the care and development seen in agriculture in recent years, just one of the examples of the good in our rural community.