The rise and rise of May Brothers
Methven-based agricultural contractors Tim and Phil May know that you reap what you sow in life. Growing up on a mid Canterbury cropping farm, Tim says that he was always keen to get off the school bus and jump onto his dad’s tractor. He’s never been afraid of hard work.
Leaving school at 15, Tim and his brother Phil, bought a second hand Hesston windrower and started windrowing around the Methven area. That was twelve years ago.
Tim says that mid Canterbury’s Small Seeds and Grass seed industry was growing and there weren’t a lot of other contractors doing it in the area at the time.
“It just seemed like something that was going to take off in the future – which it has done really.”
From those early beginnings sprang May Brothers Contracting Ltd, with Tim and Phil as joint directors.
The business has thrived through the brothers making the most of opportunities presented, a natural sense of innovation and a strong appreciation for the importance of reputation.
“Mid Canterbury has seen good growth in the last 12 years thanks to the dairy and arable cropping industries and we have been a big part of that growth,” Tim says.
“We’ve purchased a couple of contracting businesses along the way, incorporating them into what we were doing.”
May Brothers Contracting employs around 12 full time staff and up to 30 at peak season, with many of the experienced seasonal workers coming from overseas.
While Tim likes to employ locals, it’s not always easy finding experienced staff.
Operating a modern and up-to-date fleet of machinery and vehicles, which is regularly updated, Tim and Phil were early adopters of technology and have been utilising GPS and Auto Track systems for the last 8 years.
The business covers most types of agricultural contracting services for dairy, arable and sheep and beef clients.
“Services we offer to our clients are all types of cultivation and drilling, baling and forage harvesting and also windsowing and grain harvesting.
We’re running four truck and trailer units for the transport side of the business.“
Over the last three years May Brothers Contracting has established a business marketing and trading supplementary feed, with a solid reputation for the quality of its product.
Surplus supplementary feed like silage, grain and fodder beet is bought from mid Canterbury farmers and marketed nationwide to other farmers in need.
“Understanding what the client needs and expects quality wise is my job in the business,” Tim says.
“It takes the hassle out of the farmers having to deal with it themselves and not knowing the markets.
I’m quite up there with understanding the markets day by day.”
With the brothers focused on general management of the business and their own farming interests, two managers with considerable contracting and farming experience have recently been engaged to spread the growing administrative workload.
Nick Kermode takes the role of Cultivation and Drilling Manager, while Ben Keeble will manage the bailing and chopping side of the business.
It’s hard not to be inspired by the energy and passion that Tim and Phil have injected into the business that they established when just teenagers.
Self taught, they have developed the solid business acumen and marketing skills that have secured their success in business.
“We have a good reputation that comes from good management, good communication and the people that are involved in our business are hugely important,” says Tim.
“ Your clients are paying clients so as far as I am concerned we are expected to carry out the best job we can and add value to the clients operation.”