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As if running 4500 stock units across four lease blocks that spans from Waikouaiti in East Otago to Lee Stream wasn’t enough, Wayne and Chelle Hagan are now also the proud owners of an agricultural spray company.
“We had been looking for other business opportunities to create a bit of income diversity as well as something for our children,” Chelle said.
The business listing was discovered on an internet auction site within five minutes of it being listed, and the vendor was none other than Wayne’s cousin Murray Hagan.
Murray’s wife, Rua, said both men were aware the other was keen on a business handover, “they see each other every week, but do you think they ever talked about it?”, she laughed.
The business was quickly pulled from the online listing, “and Murray’s smile said it all”.
Murray’s father, Jim Hagan (91), first started the contracting business and he can still recall the date he started out.
“It was the fourth of April, 1952. I had been working on farms for two or three years before that but I had the desire to be my own boss. I started with a Massey Ferguson tractor and a plough and it all just went from there, really,” he said.
From the cultivation work came cutting hay and grass and after a few years Jim said they got more tractors and the spray work increased every year.
“It got to the point where I either upgraded my tractor and implement gear or just focused on the spray work and I decided to do the latter. The return on investment from the tractor work wasn’t worth it.”
At the peak of the season, Jim had “five or six” men working for him. Murray had worked for Jim for a number of years, and then he and Rua bought the business in 1989, and a year later Jim retired.
“I left him to it, which was a good idea because we still get along great,” he said.
Jim was pleased to see the business stay in the family. “Wayne and Chelle are very hardworking people. They will make it work.”
As well as doing the rural mail run twice a week and working on a casual basis for PGGWrightson, Chelle will do the business book work and run the spider spray side of the business. The couple’s three teenage children, Emilee, Mya and Josh, are keen to be involved.
Wayne concedes he cops a bit of flack from those who know him well in the district.
“I have a lot of people saying I’m busy enough now, how am I going to stretch myself to run a contracting business as well?’’
- Alice Scott