Otago Daily Times

Award win­ner a hands­on busi­ness owner

- SALLY RAE New Zealand · Lucerne · Italy · Canada · United States of America · United Kingdom · Australia · Canterbury · Winchester · Wellington, New Zealand · Paris Saint-Germain FC · Oceania News · Oamaru · Otago · Helensville · Invercargill · Lambourn · Omarama · Methven · Wairoa

WHETHER about horses or lambs, al­pacas or goats — Hen­ri­etta Purvis de­rives sat­is­fac­tion from pos­i­tive feed­back from happy an­i­mal own­ers.

She and her hus­band Graeme Purvis op­er­ate Purvis Feeds from their Wa­ianakarua prop­erty, south of Oa­maru, sell­ing lucerne chaff through­out New Zealand.

Very much a hands­on busi­ness owner who spends time both in the cut­ting shed and on the books, Mrs Purvis has been named the in­no­va­tion cat­e­gory win­ner in this year’s NZI Ru­ral Women New Zealand Busi­ness Awards.

Purvis Feeds has grown out of the cou­ple’s shared love of horses — and the dis­cov­ery of an old chaff cut­ter un­der a tree on a farm. It was the first brand in New Zealand to in­fuse chopped lucerne with cold­pressed rape­seed oil.

Start­ing very small, the busi­ness had grown or­gan­i­cally as new cus­tomers came along and more lucerne grow­ers came on board, Mrs Purvis said.

That or­ganic growth was im­por­tant — ‘‘the last thing we ever wanted to do was take on new clients with­out hav­ing the sup­ply. There’s noth­ing worse than dis­ap­point­ing your mar­ket,’’ she said.

One of the first cus­tomers was prom­i­nent North Otago har­ness rac­ing trainer Phil Wil­liamson and, years later, he re­mained a client, along with his two sons who were also train­ing race­horses.

Their prod­uct was now sold from He­lensville to In­ver­cargill and clients in­cluded lead­ing horse studs and train­ers.

In re­cent years, the cou­ple had also seen a ‘‘dra­matic’’ rise in other an­i­mals be­ing fed chopped lucerne. It was grow­ing in pop­u­lar­ity every year with lamb and calf rear­ers, while there was also de­mand from the al­paca and goat in­dus­tries.

Lucerne was sourced pre­dom­i­nantly from Cen­tral Otago, which she de­scribed as the ‘‘Gar­den of Eden’’ of lucerne hay.

The re­gion had ideal hay­mak­ing con­di­tions, and the grow­ers had a pas­sion for pro­duc­ing pre­mium hay, Mrs Purvis said.

The cou­ple trav­elled widely, in­clud­ing to Italy, Canada, the United States, the United King­dom and Aus­tralia, look­ing at var­i­ous ways of dry­ing hay, chop­ping chaff, mar­ket­ing, dif­fer­ent types of chaff and how other coun­tries used and fed it.

They got the idea of in­fus­ing chaff with oil from the UK and launched the prod­uct af­ter ex­ten­sive re­search and tri­als.

Purvis Feeds now em­ployed two staff mem­bers, as well as the cou­ple, and when it came to fu­ture plans, Mrs Purvis said they were ‘‘just to carry on do­ing what we’re do­ing’’.

‘‘Ob­vi­ously, we are ex­pand­ing.

‘‘Every year we’ve tried to get a bit big­ger and a bit bet­ter with­out los­ing our core val­ues,’’ she said.

It was so easy to be proud of their prod­uct as there was so much ‘‘lovely feed­back’’ from an­i­mal own­ers.

Apart from that, she also liked be­ing able to pro­vide a grow­ing mar­ket for lucerne­pro­duc­ing Cen­tral Otago farm­ers and rape­seed grow­ers in North Otago and South Can­ter­bury, she said.

English­born Mrs Purvis moved to New Zealand in the early 2000s. Prior to that, she had her own cater­ing busi­ness based at Lam­bourn, a ma­jor horse rac­ing cen­tre.

She had a ros­ter go­ing around the rac­ing yards in the morn­ing with a van, pro­vid­ing food.

The busiest time at Lam­bourn was spring, sum­mer and au­tumn and then af­ter Christ­mas. Jan­uary and the be­gin­ning of Fe­bru­ary was the qui­etest time, which worked in well with com­ing to New Zealand to visit her brother Richard Subtil and his fam­ily at Omarama Sta­tion.

It also meant that she helped out with wean­ing and it was through that she met her fu­ture hus­band — him­self in­volved with rodeo — who was op­er­at­ing a sheep con­veyor.

With a life­time in­volve­ment with horses, in­clud­ing hunt­ing and event­ing, she had never seen a rodeo un­til she was in New Zealand. She looked at the bar­rel rac­ing and thought, ‘‘that looks easy enough — I could do that.’’

Bar­rel rac­ing was now her pas­sion and she had en­joyed con­sid­er­able suc­cess with her quar­ter­horse Midge, who was named bar­rel rac­ing horse of the year in 2013­14.

Now cam­paign­ing Play­time, Mrs Purvis said rodeo was a great hobby that the cou­ple could do to­gether, on equal terms and sup­port­ing each other.

This week­end, they com­peted at Winch­ester and Methven rodeos.

She had seen public­ity about the Ru­ral Women New Zealand Busi­ness Awards over the years and won­dered if she could do that.

‘‘I won­dered if that could be me one day.’’

This year seemed to be the right time to en­ter and ‘‘show­case’’ their busi­ness.

She did not re­alise at the time how much more in­sight it would give her into her busi­ness.

Pre­par­ing her en­try, she had to look at it from an out­side point of view — ‘‘we know it in­side out’’ — but she had to tell their story to com­plete strangers, and that had been very ben­e­fi­cial.

It meant they looked closely at their busi­ness and also the role she played in it, Mrs Purvis said.

The busi­ness was con­stantly evolv­ing and chang­ing — ‘‘noth­ing ever stays the same’’ — so it was like a snapshot in time, she said.

In lat­ter times, Mrs Purvis has been mov­ing out of the shed to work more on the busi­ness rather than in it.

She was thrilled to win the award, quip­ping that the truck driver who pulled in af­ter she re­ceived the con­grat­u­la­tory let­ter en­coun­tered a ‘‘very ex­cited woman’’.

She will head to Welling­ton for a func­tion on Novem­ber 20, where the cat­e­gory win­ners will re­ceive their awards and an over­all supreme win­ner will be an­nounced.

Kate Ivey, of the Macken­zie dis­trict, won the ru­ral health and well­ness ex­cel­lence cat­e­gory for her busi­ness help­ing women lead pos­i­tive, healthy, fit­ness­filled lives.

Per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ences helped con­trib­ute to Mrs Ivey’s de­ci­sion to launch a busi­ness; she had ex­pe­ri­enced fluc­tu­a­tions with both weight and self­es­teem and put on a lot of weight dur­ing her preg­nan­cies.

Liv­ing on a high coun­try prop­erty, she re­alised there were prob­a­bly many other ru­ral women like her who strug­gled to make time for them­selves due to their lo­ca­tions and busy lives.

Kate Ivey Fit­ness was cre­ated in 2016 with a se­ries of e­books and, the fol­low­ing year, she launched DediKate, an on­line health and fit­ness com­mu­nity and app.

It now had more than 1400 mem­bers and work­outs were streamed from her home at the east­ern end of Lake Pukaki and sur­round­ing spec­tac­u­lar Macken­zie dis­trict.

Other cat­e­gory win­ners were. —

Cre­ative arts: Re­becca Toss­will, Farm­ers Daugh­ter De­sign Stu­dio (Wairarapa); emerg­ing busi­ness: Chelsea Mil­lar, Grass Roots Me­dia (Manawatu); love of the land, Sarah Hig­gins, Hig­gins Shear­ing Marl­bor­ough; ru­ral cham­pion, Sue Wil­son, SMW De­sign and Events (Wairoa); boun­ti­ful ta­ble, Lisa Brink, The Baked Dane (Horowhenua).

❛ Every year we’ve tried to get a bit big­ger and a bit bet­ter with­out los­ing our core val­ues

 ?? PHOTO: PAULA WILLIAMS/PRW PHOTOGRAPH­Y & DE­SIGN ?? Rid­ing high . . . Horses have been a life­long pas­sion for Hen­ri­etta Purvis, who has won the in­no­va­tion cat­e­gory in the NZI Ru­ral Women New Zealand Busi­ness Awards.
PHOTO: PAULA WILLIAMS/PRW PHOTOGRAPH­Y & DE­SIGN Rid­ing high . . . Horses have been a life­long pas­sion for Hen­ri­etta Purvis, who has won the in­no­va­tion cat­e­gory in the NZI Ru­ral Women New Zealand Busi­ness Awards.

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