AgriSea provides work for some of the country’s poorest and most remote communities.
Its business is turning seaweed into fertiliser and soil-conditioning products, and that means having people collect it from the shore to send to its processing plants in Gisborne and Paeroa.
Co-founder Jill Bradley says family and community are built into the family owned business. “We will only have other families who live in remote coastal areas, we don’t want middle men, and people need to be paid properly. It’s a well-paid industry from the beach up because we want quality.”
Agrisea has a family friendly staff policy that encourages parents to spend time with their children and pays a living wage, not the minimum wage. The result is committed, talented staff and constant improvement in business systems.
Bradley says she and husband Keith got into the business “by mistake” 20 years ago after they wanted to grow food for their family and became interested in seaweed fertiliser.
They gave up well-paid teaching jobs, “held hands and jumped off the cliff.”
Agrisea is now the market leader, supplying products for plant health, pasture health and animal health, including two thirds of the country’s vineyards and a significant number of dairy farms.
Bradley says sustainability includes looking after communities.
“We put into those communities, particularly in Te Whanau a Apanui. We sponsor children whose parents don’t have a lot of money to the Bay of Plenty Polytechnic to become marine scientists.”
It also sponsors the Enviroschools’ Maori liaison person, and is the sole funder of a six-year research project at Waihau Bay on the environmental effects of seaweed wild harvest on the marine coastal eco-system.
Sustainability for AgriSea underpins every business decision, including its vision to become a mainstream option for the horticultural and agricultural sectors by 2020.
This award is sponsored by The University of Waikato Management School.