Expanding business reflects demand
Greg Burnand has been in the business of supplying agricultural contracting services for 30 years but has stepped that side of his busy life up several notches in the last 10 to 12 years.
Based at Alton, 10 kilometres or so north of Patea, in the South Taranaki district, GB Contracting initially concentrated on doing round bales, cultivation and drilling, however as demand for services grew the business has stepped up several notches in the last 10-12 years.
These days GB Contracting has a fleet of 10 tractors, two round balers, one Combi baler wrapper, two loader wagons for pit silage, three swathers, two tedders, two bale wrappers, plough, two sets of discs – a Disc drill and a 6.3 metre roller drill – powerharrow and a self- designed 7m set of Dutch Harrows.
Latest purchases include a Claas 850 tractor with a strip till and cultivator three metres wide which makes for one pass cultivation, and plant suitable for maize and fodder beet.
Another tractor, a Claas Xerion with a 9.3 metre mower which is rather unique for this area as the cab lifts up and turns 180 degrees.
“I’ve been very pleased with how the company has evolved over three decades.
“It’s a competitive business and requires a massive capital investment,” Greg says.
He puts his success largely down to taking good care of the fleet. “I am running three 20 year old tractors that are still 100%.
“We do as much maintenance as we can but we also have a very good independent guy who does our tractor and machinery repair based at Hawera.”
When Business North spoke with Greg the busy contracting programme was more or less over for the season, giving him time to concentrate on his dairy unit.
“One full time driver assists on the dairy unit when it is the contracting quiet time, supplementing this, Greg employs 7 or 8 seasonal drivers, three of them highly competent women operators. “Anyone wanting to work in this sort of job must have had some previous experience on tractors.”
To be a successful, Greg says a contractor needs a sound philosophy to approach the work from and a very good knowledge of what each job requires.
For Greg, having the farm brings a balance.
He describes contracting as ‘the other side of farming and the two go hand-in-hand’, though acknowledges being a farmer and a contractor is not really a good mix.
“As a contractor bale numbers pay the bills but as a farmer that has to feed out what we bale I would rather feed out 800kg plus bales than have to feed out extra at a smaller/lighter size.
“People often ask me how many bales we do annually, but honestly I have no idea as I stipulate to my staff that it is quality of the bales not quantity.”
Greg started making wrapped bales long before bale wrap was available. “We used to put them in black plastic tubes and always thought we were on to something good.
You are doing your work to the best of your ability and there’s real satisfaction gained from seeing a crop doing well and take interest in how our silage bales and bulk turn out.
“We tend to concentrate on a reasonably small area, north to Hawera, 25 kilometres away, south up to about 15km south and the farming strip between the bush and the coast, so a lot of the time we are driving past work we have done.”
Greg also runs a dairy unit with his partner Janine. Greg helps with the morning milking while Janine milks the 220 cows on her own in the afternoon if Greg is busy with contracting.