No looking back for president

Centre Bush contractor David Kean is the new president of Rural Contractors New Zealand. Photo: Supplied
Centre Bush contractor David Kean is the new president of Rural Contractors New Zealand. Photo: Supplied
David Kean, of Centre Bush, has been elected Rural Contractors New Zealand president. After being vice-president for five years, Mr Kean is a familiar face around the table. Nicole Sharp takes a closer look at his journey to the top.

Contracting as a whole is in the blood of the Kean family.

David Kean is a second-generation contractor - Farmers Dipping Co was started by his father, Leo, in back in 1966.

David Fraser, who owned Lochiel Engineering at the time, developed the mobile sheep shower, and the pair went in to business together.

''A couple of years later they were approached to apply agri-chemicals, and the two businesses worked in well together,'' Mr Kean said.

In 1992, David came home to the family business and in 2003 he took over the reins, and now both of his sons, Nicol and Jarrod, have also returned to the business.

Jarrod is a qualified greenkeeper, and all aspects of his training have come in handy back working at the family business.

''He's an approved chemical handler and his knowledge on grass management has been very beneficial to the company''

Nicol spent a year at Telford Polytechnic, and two years working for two other contractors, all practical experience which has been invaluable, Mr Kean said.

Both of the boys were home, trying their hand in the business, and the next step was up to them.

''They've both done two seasons with no arguments and they're enjoying it,'' Mr Kean said.

The Kean family's journey with Rural Contractors started back in the late 1980s, when Leo started attending the annual conferences.

David attended his first conference in 2000, and there has been no looking back.

''It was a fantastic opportunity to talk with like-minded contractors and benchmark my business against theirs. I decided it was good for my business and I have been to every annual conference since then.''

The networking aspects were one of the major drawcards for him, but also for agri-chemical contractors like himself, learning about the rules and regulations and latest technologies was hugely beneficial, he said.

He was first elected to the Rural Contractors board in 2009 and since his father started contracting, there had been some huge advancements in the contracting area.

''There's a lot more ag contractors now following the downturn after Rogernomics in the late 80s. Farmers laid off staff and could not afford to replace their machinery which opened the doors for contractors to grow their businesses.''

Compliance was the other major change in the sector, with health and safety playing a massive part in the day-to-day operations for all contractors now.

Agri-chemical contractors have to be registered chemical applicators, while Rural Contractors New Zealand had options for contractors to be registered or qualified contractors.

A registered contractor is one that has undergone a significant independent audit to ensure that the contractor is meeting its statutory and regulatory responsibilities.

This process is undertaken to reduce risk to clients and minimise their exposure to liability in employment, health and safety and other areas.

A qualified contractor is where an owner, manager or employee in a supervisory capacity of a contracting firm holds a NZQA, Level 3, National Certificate in one or more skills offered to clients.

Both of these had only been on offer for contractors for less than 10 years, Mr Kean said.

He said Rural Contractors New Zealand was a great organisation to be a part of and offered contractors networking possibilities and all the latest information on technologies and compliance issues.

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