Silver Fern Farms 'drags you in'

Outgoing Silver Fern Farms chief executive Dean Hamilton samples a lamb burger. PHOTO: STEPHEN...
Outgoing Silver Fern Farms chief executive Dean Hamilton samples a lamb burger. PHOTO: STEPHEN JAQUIERY

Silver Fern Farms chief executive Dean Hamilton leaves the role this month, and says it is a company that "drags you in''.

Speaking at the company's tent at the Wanaka A&P Show on Friday, Mr Hamilton said the four years with Silver Fern Farms had "flown''.

His first six months involved advising the board before he was asked, almost three and a-half years ago to the day, if he would manage the company.

He announced his decision to resign in July last year and his replacement was later named as Simon Limmer, previously Zespri International's chief operating officer.

Under Mr Hamilton's leadership, the company achieved a significant recapitalisation through the $260million investment by Chinese-owned Shanghai Maling.

It had been a "fascinating'' tenure; he joined the company when it was in a very public challenging financial position.

He went into it with "eyes wide open'', knowing he could lead the business to where it needed to get to.

"If I didn't have a clear view to where the answers lay, I don't think I'd have been brave enough to do it,'' he said.

His proudest thing was having achieved that and he was enjoying chatting with suppliers at the A&P show and not having to talk about capital structure. He had told Mr Limmer he had inherited the business in great shape.

Mr Limmer worked for Zespri for nine years, including as COO and general manager for China. Mr Hamilton said he was excited about him taking the helm, saying he understood farmers, did a lot of farmer-facing work and had an understanding of the China market.

Silver Fern Farms was a place that was full of passionate people. "It's a place that drags you in - I didn't expect that.''

He and his family lived in Queenstown. He still had two children living at home and wanted to spend more time with his family, he said.

While he had enjoyed his role at Silver Fern Farms, he did not think he would take on a similar CEO role.

He had joined the board of Fulton Hogan and was keen to find some other governance roles in good businesses.

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