Investment in staff the key to success

Investment in staff the key to success
Rob Morris, left, and Paul Morrison - keeping abreast of changes in the dairy industry.

A strong investment in the up-skilling and training of staff ensures that Morrison Agri stays well ahead of the game when it comes to servicing and upgrading any brand of milking machine or rotary platforms.
Managing Director Paul Morrison says that not long after he purchased the Ashburton-based business 14 years ago servicing existing Waikato Milking System, the dairy industry started to gain real traction.
“We went through an 8-10 year phase where the only thing that we were doing was building new sheds throughout the Canterbury/North Otago territory. We would be building up to 20 new sheds a year.”
With the number of conversions plateauing in recent times and the low payout of a few years ago, the number of new builds has dropped to about six a year.
Morrison Agri identifi ed this early on and returned to its roots carrying out daily and annual servicing of sheds along with yearly machine testing.
And as Canterbury’s sheds age – most are in the 10-year age bracket with quite a few aged between 15 – 25 year – a lot of upgrade work is coming through.
“There is more and more technology with more accuracy going into the sheds—particularly as farmers find it harder to get staff.”
Paul says back in the day when the work was predominantly new installations, he could hire someone off the street, show them what to do and they could repeat that 60 or 70 times, depending on the size of the shed.
“But servicing, you’re thinking on your feet all the time, dealing with issues and our customers and that’s an entirely different business model.
“So we have staff signed up in the apprentice-ship scheme and we’re pouring the time, effort and money into training so they are equipped to deal with the issues as they arise. “That’s really what sets us apart.”

Investment in staff the key to success
Morrison Agri won the “Dealer of the Year” award at last year’s Waikato Milking Systems Dealer conference – from left Rob Morris, Sarah Thompson, Paul Morrison, with
Richard Aubrey and Campbell Parker from Waikato Milking Systems.

With a team of 35 employees, Paul says all bases are covered with administration staff, health and safety officers, operations managers, work schedulers, sales team and hands on engineers, installers and service technicians.
With three branches; Ashburton, Oamaru and more recently Christchurch, Morrison Agri operates throughout Canterbury and North Otago.
Paul says that while a number of Herringbone systems are still operating, the vast majority of new systems are rotary operations.
“Nowadays the smallest shed that we build would be a 50 bail rotary all the way through to an 80 bail.
“Whether a farmer chooses a rotary over a herringbone really comes down to the investment the farmer is prepared to make as well as the family set up—is there a family member to take the farm over, is it a short term investment. But really you wouldn’t get many herringbones milking over 600 – 700 cows.”
Living and breathing what his dairy customers do, Paul says he feels for the dairy farmers.
“Farmers are often unfairly portrayed in a negative light by the media.
“People don’t truly understand what farmers do for our community, the money they bring in and the people they employ.”
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