Aspiring to be the partner of choice for rural New Zealand has seen Ruralco maintain its market share while focusing on developing technology, people and capability within the business.
At the 56th Ruralco Annual General Meeting on the 19th of November, Chairman Alister Body congratulated the Board and Management for enabling the co-operative to remaining competitive, for continuing to develop relationships and better ways of doing business. He said that effective collaboration between Ruralco’s management and the Board enables the co-operative to work together, sharing a commitment to the business model and its future.
“Ruralco is standing proud with positive financial results and many accolades to its name, despite it having been a difficult trading year for the co-operative with the weather effecting irrigation and grain trading, together with uncertainty and farmers conservativeness affecting farm spend.”
These accolades and achievements include: 25th Annual Instore Days, Group CEO Robert Sharkie named runner up in the NZ Co-op Business Leader of the Year; Ruralco named Winners in the Westpac Business Champion Awards for Workplace Safety; and with the unique position of having four women on the Board, Ruralco was recognised as a finalist in the Gender Diverse Organisation of the Year category of the Governance NZ, Women in Governance Awards.
Mr Body also celebrated the co-operative’s new move to offer online voting for its Shareholders “I am absolutely thrilled with the online voting process. The majority of the votes were cast prior to the AGM and in spite of this we still had a good attendance and participation at the AGM.”
The first-time online voting process, conducted and scrutinised by independent company Electionz.com, saw Shareholder participation rates as high as ever with a fivefold increase (549%) in participation rates from the 2018 election. With three candidates standing for two seats, Directors Jessie Chan-Dorman and Tony Coltman (who had both stood down via rotation) were both re-elected.
Familiar face at the Board table and director for the past six years Mrs Chan-Dorman was pleased to be re-elected and she said ““I feel humbled to be part of the Ruralco team. Shareholder Mr Lilley summed it up really well last night in his general business address. ‘From the shareholder, to the store person, to the Executive, to the Board, we are all one team working together for the benefit of our farmers”. Mrs Chan-Dorman acknowledged the challenges ahead for farming, but she also foresees some great opportunities and is confident Ruralco will be there to support farmers as they make the transition.
Mr Coltman, who joined the Board in 2016 and was re-elected last night said “I’m honoured to be re-elected. It was great to see such high participation rates, and to see the seats contested. This is a healthy position for the Board.” Mr Coltman says he is acutely aware of keeping both the business and its people in a strong position and helping it to evolve in a very competitive market.
A further election of one member to the Directors Remuneration Committee saw Mark Saunders successfully elected.
For the second time in a row Ruralco will pay its owners a bonus rebate thanks to revenue growth and careful management of expenses. The $250,000 bonus rebate comes on the back of a strong year for the rural services co-operative, (ATS Ltd Trading as Ruralco), which recorded operating earnings before interest and depreciation (EBITDA) of $1.1 million.
During the last financial year Ruralco continued to increase its Shareholders by 53 and its market share while also focusing on efficiencies within the business.
“Looking forward, Ruralco will continue to focus on developing its people, investing in technology and ensuring best workplace practice. It will have a continued pride for working for its Shareholders and suppliers to best serve rural New Zealand” Mr Body said.
SUCCESSFUL DIRECTORS BIOGRAPHIES:
OCCUPATION: Dairy Farmer / Director
CURRENT GOVERNANCE EXPERIENCE:
Jessie Chan-Dorman was elected to the ATS Board of Directors in 2013. During her six years on the Board, Jessie has contributed her governance experience, along with her extensive agribusiness background and diversity of thought. Jessie is currently on the Board of Ngai Tahu Farming Ltd, Alpine Energy Ltd and the Bio-protection Research Centre. Jessie is a member of the Institute of Directors and New Zealand Asian Leaders.
PREVIOUS GOVERNANCE EXPERIENCE:
Jessie has previously served on the Board of Connetics Ltd, DairyNZ Ltd (as an Associate Director), Business Mid Canterbury and Federated Farmers Mid Canterbury.
Jessie and her husband Hayden lease 420 ha at Dorie, milking 850 cows. She has an Honours degree in Animal Science and has worked in a range of rural professional positions over a fifteen-year period. Jessie and Hayden have a six-year-old son, Adam and 10-month-old son, Noah.
OCCUPATION: Farmer / Director
CURRENT GOVERNANCE EXPERIENCE:
Tony was elected to the Board in 2016 and is the Chairman of the Health & Safety Committee. He graduated from Lincoln University with a B.Com.Ag and a Diploma in Farm Management (with Distinction) and completed the Fonterra Governance Development programme in 2016. He is also a member of the NZ Institute of Directors.
PREVIOUS GOVERNANCE EXPERIENCE:
Tony has over 25-years’ experience in corporate leadership and advisory roles, both in New Zealand and abroad.
OFF FARM BACKGROUND:
Tony is Equity Manager and Director of a 3,400 cow equity partnership in Dunsandel and is a Director and Shareholder for Focal Dairies, a 3,500 cow pasture based dairy operation in Missouri, USA. He has held several senior management positions in rural banking, in both New Zealand and Australia. He was also the General Manager for Development and Extension for Dexcel (now DairyNZ) prior to spending 4.5 years as General Manager for Focal Dairies. Tony has a passion for rural business, both inside and outside the farm gate, and is dedicated to the sustainability of dairy farming. He is particularly interested in creating profit while protecting the environment and is an active leader for the highly successful Forages for Reduced Nitrogen Leaching Programme. Tony and his wife, Dana, have four children between them. Tony enjoys hunting, motorbiking and skiing, both snow and water, when time allows.
As the organisation evolves and implements its strategy to grow and continue to be competitive, it needs consistent governance. After three years, I have a solid understanding of the business, which will strengthen the significance of my contribution going forward. As Chairman of the H&S committee, I’ve been pleased to see the organisation begin to evolve into health and wellbeing. But there is still a lot to do to lead in this space as we do in the safety area. I also bring unique contributions to the board. Most importantly, a strong, hands-on farmer perspective ensuring Shareholders’ interests are at the forefront of everything we do. My international farming and banking knowledge, as well as strong financial focus is also an asset. Last, I believe we have a role to play in supporting farmers through the myriad of changes coming and I am passionate about seeing the farming sector thrive.