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Business Dairy

Group positioned for growth with focus on excellence – Rylib Group

Luke Lynch Oct 10

“We checked in on each other, set up a personal trainer so everyone that wanted to could Zoom in and train together three mornings a week, and we ran a photo competition to capture what exceptional farms we have; this industry gets a tough time but always steps up and is so rewarding. We are essential and it was nice to be recognised as that.”

Kelly Nicholls’, co-founder Rylib Group

Building a successful dairy group from the ground up takes hard work, determination and a long term vision.

Rylib Group’s founders John and Kelly Nicholls’ journey to success certainly required all these elements that continue to drive growth today. The forward-thinking couple were tested from the start, with a severe drought in the late 1990s almost ending their industry aspirations when only in their second season as dairy farmers on a converted sheep farm in Featherston. It took three tough years for them to establish a solid foundation for their business, but the trajectory ever since then has been one of expansion. By 2005, they had purchased their first two farms in mid-Canterbury.

Today, their mid-Canterbury dairy portfolio comprises six dairy farms. Their highly successful, innovative dairy group – named ‘Rylib Group’ after their two children, Ryan and Libby – is driven by a simple mission, namely to have a high returning, enjoyable and sustainable business.

“We are a first generation family owned and focussed business that puts people and safety first,” Kelly says. “We celebrate success and strive for excellence in all areas of the business. We surround ourselves with the best the industry has to offer and benchmark against the best.”

A key goal for John and Kelly is to be an employer of choice by encouraging career progression, personal growth and equity opportunities for the right people, educating their team and including key people in succession planning. The company’s culture fosters hard work and rewards success, with performance awards held annually to celebrate their top performers on the farm.

“It’s important that John and I get the opportunity to thank our management team for their incredible work throughout the year. We take our managers and partners, assistant managers and partners and our executive team and partners away for the weekend and ask our key suppliers to sponsor, along with Rylib Group sponsorship.”

In 2018/19, Ashley Wilson, Delarbe Farm, was a notable high achiever on awards night, winning Farm of the Year, Nearest to Budget, Highest Production and Farm Environment Excellence Award. Recognising farm pride is paramount and Rylib Group is known for their exceptionally high standards both on farm and visually.

Rylib Group is a company that cares for its people and the community. Each farm donates bull calves every year to various charities and the group is actively involved in supporting various community projects, such as supplying the Hinds Community with free flu jabs each year, sponsoring the development of a bike track for children at Hinds School and Westpac Helicopter to name a few.

Three farm managers are volunteers for the Hinds Fire Brigade and another manager is on the local LandSAR (Search and Rescue) team. This can take them away from the business for periods of time but they all see the value of community volunteering.

This caring ethos stood the company in good stead during the lockdown, with the whole team coming together as a tight group.

“We checked in on each other, set up a personal trainer so everyone that wanted to could Zoom in and train together three mornings a week, and we ran a photo competition to capture what exceptional farms we have; this industry gets a tough time but always steps up and is so rewarding. We are essential and it was nice to be recognised as that.”

A vehicle for growth, Rylib Group is well positioned to create success for the next generation.

“We will ride the uncertain storm ahead and continue to focus on people, growth and environmental excellence.”

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