When Greg Carr left school in 1970 there was no room for him on the family farm so he started his working life as an apprentice mechanic.
In order to pay for his apprenticeship, Greg carted hay during the evenings and weekends which all paid off when he became a qualified mechanic. He married Glenys in 1976 and it was that year that he also transferred into sales with International Harvester. Back then, you needed to impress the rural lenders by showing that you could work on a farm in order to be given a loan to purchase one. So with that in mind, in 1978 Greg went and worked on a farm. During this time, Greg acquired a tractor and round baler, and went about converting farmers from small squares to round bales.
Greg worked hard for the next four years which paid off when he secured a loan to buy his first piece of land, 200 acres in Mid Canterbury. He recognises that the 10 year period from leaving school to purchasing his own land in 1980 was a huge growth period for himself. Three years on Greg had the opportunity to buy 400 acres of the family farm from his brothers. Then Labour came to power in 1985 and deregulated the economy. This caused interest rates to triple from 7.5% to 23%. Times became very tough for all New Zealanders and in order to survive with a young family of four, Glenys started running homestays and managing the farm while Greg ran the contracting business.
A year on in 1986 when times were “really tough” Greg bought a large square baler, allowing farmers to make 25 small bales into one big square. This revolutionised baling on farms, allowing farmers to transport and load their own bales faster and more efficiently. The family says, another big innovation for hay making and again their father was at the forefront of it.
The financial pressure that was brought on in the 1980s made Greg realise that his way to progress was to continue building alternative income streams. He started a combine harvesting business as well as increasing his baling operation which he and Glenys continued to throw everything they had into. All of their hard work started to pay off at the end of the decade when the economy started to stabilise, Greg and Glenys’ bravery and sheer hard work had paid off. But Greg was struggling to get any sort of mechanical servicing for his agricultural contracting businesses so he simply bought the local garage at Mayfield and it was with this that Greg put his strong service philosophy into good use.
In 1991 he set up his machinery business, Agrifarm, and was awarded the agent’s rights to Fiat Agri, which saw Greg move his contracting business from his yard in Mayfield to a larger site in Ashburton in 1995.
ADDING VALUE TO YOUR FARMING BUSINESS.
Greg’s eldest son, Craig, was looking to head to university in 1997 when Greg suggested he work for a year in the seed store that had recently been purchased. Craig believed he could make some changes, modernise it a bit, and that’s what he did. The family committed to the seed industry and invested in $1 million worth of seed cleaning equipment in 1997/1998.
Greg’s second son, Ryan, always had a strong passion for farming. When he left school and got involved in running the farming business, Ryan became central in developing the family farming properties as they were acquired and for over 15 years managed and oversaw the farming group of dairy, arable and stock. In 2008 he opened New Zealand’s first fully commercial robotic dairy farm to demonstrate Lely robotic milking equipment working viably on a grazing farm. More recently Ryan has moved his attention to the Livestock division and acts in an ambassadorial capacity on behalf of the family.
Craig continued to explore offshore opportunities in the seed and feed business, successfully growing this sector over a number of years. The culmination of this growth led to the purchase of Canterbury Seed in 2009, effectively wrapping all the seed related businesses together.
Third son James, with a love of machinery, joined the family business out of school, working in the Contracting business with Greg. James continued his father’s reputation for business innovation, growing and developing the business in areas of fine chopped silage, crimped grain and bagged silage.
For over 13 years James managed the day to day operations of the Contracting business as well as working alongside Greg as a director responsible for the machinery / automotive group. James has now taken over the running of the family farm in Mayfield. The farm specialises in arable, lamb finishing and supply of lucerne hay to stud breeders and the equine market.
Following an 8-year hockey career representing NZ, including two Olympics and two Commonwealth Games, sister Stacey joined the business in 2010 working with people and brand. Stacey also acted as a PA support to Greg on a day to day basis and helped with event management and sponsorship in the marketing team. Over the past two years Stacey has focussed her role around people and safety ensuring that as a business, Carrfields meets its health and safety obligations.
The family’s 40-year business investment journey’s most recent acquisition was that of Elders NZ in August 2014. With a desire to build a national footprint with a global business, this acquisition was the opportunity the family needed. A national agri-tech company now incorporating seed, livestock, irrigation, machinery, automotive, wool, dairy, contracting, financial and farm services and farming the land – the group is poised for the next phase. The Carrfields Group have markets across the globe, it can deliver products and services from farm to families, and are continuing to develop consumer brands.
The Carr family’s, Carr Group proudly launched its new business brand Carrfields in July 2015. The brand represents the family name and its foundation link from the fields. As group managing director, Craig holds responsibility for the overall Carrfields Group. Carrfields employs approximately 485 people across NZ, Australia, India, Ethiopia, U.S.A. and the U.A.E. “Our key values today are the same as Greg and Glenys’ foundation business values of promise and service,” Craig said. As a company, integrity is what Carrfields stand behind, our business will continue to grow and there are hopes to see the grandchildren coming through and being part of that business growth in the future.