Gearing up for the next step: Stephen and Valerie Newman
It has been many years since agriculturalist Stephen Newman was last in the classroom but he reckons that studying for an Agribusiness Management Diploma at EIT might just take his businesses to the next level.
From humble beginnings and a bare paddock at Waerenga-a Hika, Stephen and Valerie Newman have grown their operation into a multi-facetted family business, including several orchards, a pack house, a hill country sheep and beef station, a coffee roastery and a fruit juice processing plant.
But most people will know the Newmans for their mobile Heavitree juice and coffee bar at Gisborne’s Farmers Market, which Stephen and Valerie helped establish in 2005.
They also grow maize and popcorn for Corsons so life can get hectic, especially over spring and summer.
Nevertheless, when Stephen heard details about the course through a Primary Industry ITO rep, he decided to check it out.
“It made sense to me so I thought I would sit through the first day.”
“I got a lot out of it. Geoff King is the tutor and he’s very good. He has practical experience in finance, horticulture and work experience which is quite relevant to what we are learning.”
The programme was one day in class every second week, with evening online two-hour tutorials in the opposite weeks.
This was quite a commitment for Stephen but he was willing to work around it.
“What I learned was of very good use to us on a day-to-day basis. Things such as health and safety, financial reports and forecasting, budgets and employment contracts. We were already doing these things but I am always looking for improvements.”
“You get a bit of a big picture idea and see where you should be putting your energies. It helps me focus – sometimes I worry about the small details. This helped with keeping it in perspective”.
The course introduced Stephen to things like mission statements, about which he had always been a bit skeptical but which helped him clarify what he and Valerie were trying to achieve. “The assignments are related to our own businesses so it’s really relevant.“
Although Stephen should graduate with an Agribusiness Management Diploma, this was not the driver for him.
“The driver is what I learn in the classroom and can use on a week-to-week basis – I would recommend it to many people.
“Every time I come away from a class I think about what I could use in my business – there’s always something useful.”
Stephen believes the course would be useful for a broad range of business people, from dairy owners to shearing contractors; however, EIT delivers more generalised business and financial management courses through its school of business.
EIT’s Rural Studies unit teamed up with the Primary Industry ITO to deliver this agribusiness course.