When you go into business, you need to have trust in your partners. Trust in their values and integrity, trust in their skills, and trust in their experience. At Southern Cross Horticulture, we offer co-investors the chance to put their money alongside ours and become part-owners of a kiwifruit orchard with us. So we reckon it’s only fair that we should tell you a little bit about ourselves so you can judge whether we align.
We’ve been building world-class kiwifruit orchards for a fair while now. Chris and Shirley Dunstan, our founders, planted their first orchard over 40 years ago, and now sons Andrew and Russell are leading the business too.
- We’ve been through the tough times and the good times, so we know what it takes to thrive: The PSA crisis was our biggest challenge, as it was for most in the industry, but we got through it with grit, innovation, and the backing of banks who believed in us. Now we’ve grown to employ over 100 staff and 200 contractors, and we’re running 26 active sites.
- We believe that if a job’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right: We’re totally committed to quality, so we build top-quality orchards that last. That makes them more cost-effective in the long-run, and it means we can be proud of what we’re doing.
- This industry experience makes a real difference on the ground: For example, we do approximately 100 hectares of development every year, and we keep an extensive database of all the financials. That gives us a very good understanding of the costs involved and the ability to plan meticulously.
We’ve learned a bit along the way, and we’ve developed a few new tricks too. David Hay, a principal at our investment bankersAntipodes Capital, told us that before they got involved with us they did a bit of due diligence around the industry. “Everyone we spoke to told us what high-capability operators they were,” says David. Here’s why we think others might see us like that.
- Our unique ‘end-to-end’ business model lets us manage every aspect of orchard development and production: Our CEO,Andrew Dunstan, puts it like this: “I’ve personally done nearly every job you can do in developing an orchard.” From selecting and procuring bare land, to constructing and establishing an orchard, to harvesting the fruit, we do it all, and we wrap around all the support services like finance, HR, and health and safety. That gives us exceptionally high levels of quality control.
- Our business is made up of a team of specialist units who collectively achieve more than an organisation of generalists: No-one’s good at everything, so we empower our people to specialise and to develop genuinely industry-leading expertise. That makes us stronger together.
- Our commitment to innovation got us through the tough times and powers us now: We were early adopters of the Gold variety of kiwifruit when it was new in the 1990s. When PSA hit, we pioneered new techniques like putting entire orchards under canopies to prevent fruit rub and disease spread. Then we switched to the SunGold variety, and innovations like Supercharger plants are keeping us ahead.
We’ve always been guided by our values, and we always will be. Values are like the compass that helps you stay on the right course. They help ensure we’re delivering value for all our stakeholders—our team, our customers, our investors, and our community. For example:
- We think long-term: “We’d rather do 100 hectares of world-class developments each year than do 150 hectares poorly,” says Andrew Dunstan. This is also why we’re committed to building orchards that last. SCH strives for excellence in everything we do.
- We take responsibility to do the right thing, even when no-one is looking: For example, if a mistake gets made or something goes wrong that SCH reasonably could have foreseen, “then we own it, even if it’s difficult or it costs us,” says Andrew. Integrity is one of our most important values.
- We embrace a growth mindset: We do everything we can to support our people to work hard and learn. We’re always striving to be better today than we were yesterday, thanks to our value of attitude.
Finally, we put our money where our mouth is, so we have the same interest as our co-investors in a really successful development. We typically invest 15-25 percent of the required equity in every project, so we have skin in the game, just like our co-owners. By now, we hope you’ve got a good idea of whether you share our outlook. If you like our values and our approach, we’d love to hear from you, and see whether you might become part of the SCH story.