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Client Story

Brix Group

“I’m just the guy on the tractor…” is both an interesting and humbling way for the owner of a start-up company that’s going gang busters in the horticulture sector in the Bay of Plenty to describe himself, but then integrity and genuine values have likely been the key to the rapid rise of Brix Horticulture. That and a healthy mix of the right strategic advice and support.

The OPPORTUNITY

Stress was the primary motivating factor for the establishment of Brix Horticulture in September 2018. Owner Kieren Thomas witnessed his family stress about not being able to secure credible or reliable contractors for their kiwifruit orchard. The sector as a whole suffers massive labour constraints with so many Kiwifruit orchards and so many more being planted, so much so that there has long been a huge strain on finding labour to farm the land, especially good labour. Says Kieren

“The primary industry is the backbone of New Zealand with truck loads of opportunity in the agriculture, viticulture and horticulture sectors. These are huge markets, out of sight of many New Zealanders. I saw the stress my family was managing, and I saw an opportunity to solve that. So, I grabbed it.”

Enter Brix Horticulture, set up by a guy in his twenties with a clear vision of what he wanted to achieve - to provide what the industry so desperately needs – good, honest labour from people keen to work hard and to a high calibre. Little surprise that within the launch months success was fast and steep. But also pivotal to that success was ensuring the company was strategically aligned to leverage and maximise opportunities for success or, as Kieren would more simply states

“When you’re growing so rapidly, as we were, you need to ensure you have all your ducks in a row.”

Getting ALL THEIR DUCKS IN A ROW

Setting up with his family as his first client enabled the company to cut its teeth in relatively forgiving environments, although it was clear from the outset that Brix Horticulture knew what they were doing. With Brix’s first client backing it, Kieren approached another prospective client, who also backed him and word started to spread. Starting with a labour team of eight, within two short months, Brix was up to 30 staff and Kieren realised he had a potentially viable business on his hands.

“Farmers are a hard bunch to crack and to get them singing your praises. They can be quick to tarnish you if you get it wrong. A spade’s a spade and it takes a lot to get them to recommend you. But we started to get momentum really quickly and I thought ‘hey this is actually working’. That’s when I then decided I needed to sit down with Ingham Mora and get some good advice.”

Kieren sat down with Director Rhonda Wisbey and her team because Rhonda specialises in the horticulture and agricultural sectors and contractors.

“She gets and knows the primary sector really, really well. She knows how they work, understands their complexities and the whim of nature and the effect it can have on business continuity. Couple that with Ingham Mora’s new business development and coaching offerings and you start to get something that’s really quite valuable to a business, rather than just someone crunching numbers.”

KEY SERVICES USED


Xero & Software Solutions

Accounting & Tax Services

Business Planning, Cashflow Forecasting, Business Coaching

LIFE CYCLE STAGE


New to Business

A UNIQUE BUSINESS WITH UNIQUE NEEDS

Brix Horticulture operate differently to anyone else in their industry, in fact so much so that Kieren says they really have no competition at the moment. Where they differ is in their offer of set lead in times, so the client gets what they want when they want it. They train their labour teams on a modular and systems-based approach which allows them to train a new recruit, who may have never worked in orchards before, in a day.

Kieren’s degree in Industrial design and operations management has proven useful in the set up of Brix Horticulture.

“Basically, we have a unique model and it’s working exceptionally well for us. I know we are incredibly effective as a business because we are so systems focussed and operate as a production-based team. Several sets of eyes go over all the fruit, then we make it efficient by managing our team using a critical path process and we focus our resources on one job at a time. This has a huge and positive effect on our cashflow operating this way.”

“Couple that with their new business development and coaching offerings and you start to get something that’s really quite valuable to a business, rather than just someone crunching numbers.”

BRINGING SOLID PLANNING AND ACCOUNTABILITY INTO PLAY

With the support of Rhonda and her team at Ingham Mora Brix Horticulture set about putting clear 30, 60- and 90-day goals in place and some accountability to boot, which Kieren says has been a pivotal aspect of their success to date.

“The way the Ingham Mora accounting offering has changed is really valuable to me as a business owner. Being able to have my accountant and business development management team in the same meeting establishes good accountability and support that often small businesses lack. They have also provided really valuable support in terms of day to day operations around maintaining margins, employment processes and the likes. What really makes them worthwhile is having the high-level strategic support alongside the traditional accounting services and that combination is essential if you’re serious about establishing a business that’s making money for you and not just a wage.”

Brix Horticulture also know the value of surrounding themselves in strong support networks and include a healthy mentor group of Ingham Mora and a couple of well-established farmers.

“Being able to take all their advice and put it in a melting pot has worked really well for the business.”

DOES MONEY REALLY GROW ON TREES?

Seems it doesn’t need to where Brix Horticulture is concerned. With careful planning and good support this is one start-up that’s looking to score some exciting success milestones.

Something led me to Kiwifruit and led me home to the Bay. The satisfaction of being your own boss is unbeatable and it feels good to have come home and to be running a successful business. My business goal for next year is double our growth and we’re on track to achieve that.”

says the humble guy on the tractor!

HOW INGHAM MORA HAS MADE A DIFFERENCE TO BRIX HORTICULTURE

  • Critical business planning and strategic support
  • Goal setting and mentoring
  • Maintaining margins, employment processes and day to day operations
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