Empire builder plans to enjoy retirement

TracMap founder Colin Brown has returned to Mosgiel after retiring last month. PHOTO: SHAWN MCAVINUE
TracMap founder Colin Brown has returned to Mosgiel after retiring last month. PHOTO: SHAWN MCAVINUE

Mosgiel businessman Colin Brown is retiring with “pride and satisfaction’’ after launching a multinational empire from his hometown more than a decade ago.

In 2006, Mr Brown launched TracMap - a business which supplies precision guidance systems to the primary food production industries.

The business had grown year-on-year since its inception.

About 80% of all the fertiliser in New Zealand was applied using TracMap technology, he said.

The company now employs about 34 staff at its headquarters in Dukes Rd in Mosgiel, five sales reps across New Zealand, eight staff in the United States and one staff member in Australia.

Mr Brown stepped down as managing director about four years ago, in a bid to work towards semi-retirement.

The bid was shortlived when an opportunity became available to work for the business in California, in the United States.

‘‘It was too good an opportunity to pass up.’’

He was deployed to California because no-one else had the product knowledge and sales skills to get TracMap ‘‘off the ground’’in the States, he said.

For the past two years, he and his wife have lived in Salinas, home to massive nut orchards and vineyards about two hours south of San Francisco.

In New Zealand, TracMap was used by farmers to spread fertiliser.

In the United States, the technology was mostly used to help tractor drivers spray chemicals on crops at the correct rate and in the correct place.

Under his guidance, the operation in the United States ‘‘was going well and I’m no longer needed’’.

After celebrating his 67th birthday, he knew the time was right to retire and leave the United States because if he stayed, he would get involved in the next growth stage of the business there.

‘‘There is other things in life to do besides spending all your life working.’’

His final day of work at TracMap was on November 1.

Finishing work was ‘‘emotionally challenging’’ as he had been ‘‘intimately involved’ in the business since its inception.

He looked back on his career with ‘‘pride and satisfaction’’.

He had that pride for transforming a business idea to something which impacts positively on the agricultural industry in New Zealand.

The technology helped meat and dairy companies market New Zealand products abroad by proving it was farmed sustainably.

‘‘That makes New Zealand more competitive and that’s a source of constant pride for me and the team.’’

Although he was stopping working at TracMap, he continued to be a shareholder and to hold a governance role on the company’s board. In his retirement, he expected to play golf, spend time with grandchildren, read the newspaper, and maybe buy a Series 2 Land Rover to go off-roading.

‘‘I don’t want to make any commitments - I just want to enjoy it.’’

SHAWN.MCAVINUE @thestar.co.nz

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