Greenlea Premier Meats, a family business in the heart of the Waikato, had the ambition to take on the big players in the industry with an innovative approach to meat processing while giving back to their community.
Managing director Tony Egan says the company was founded by his uncle Peter Egan 21 years ago, with Greenlea’s first meat processing plant opening in Hamilton in 1993. A second plant was opened in Morrinsville in 1997.
“We got started in the Waikato because there was a demand for beef processing here,” he says.
“We saw an opportunity with the growth of the beef industry in the Waikato and the upper North Island in general. We had a view that bigger competitors were not providing the level of service farmer suppliers wanted.
“We wanted to take a modern approach to meat processing, with new techniques and new technology.”
The plants currently process more than 200,000 cattle and 100,000 calves, and employ 425 staff. Greenlea export more than 300 types of beef products to more than 40 countries.
“As we’ve grown we’ve become more focused on innovation – our aim is to be the most progressive meat processor in the business. This has opened opportunities to do things differently.”
The industry faces its fair share of challenges, so Mr Egan says it is vital the business can survive the highs and the lows.
“I think the market, currency and the competing proteins in other parts of the world create challenges, and these go in cycles. It’s important for us to have a business model that can weather any storm and survive.
“ASB has been there from the very beginning. Back then ASB was not associated with the meat processing industry, so they’ve learnt with us. We’ve built growth and performance together. The relationship has been about doing the business properly and creating confidence that we know what we’re doing.”
Egan says the ambition for the future is to continue to make positive progress.
“We want to be relevant to our farmer suppliers with initiatives that ensure we keep clear blue water between us and our competitors.”
It’s also important for the family company to give back to the community, Mr Egan says.
“One of the more recent initiatives we’ve had has been the Greenlea Foundation Trust, which supports the community and charities, such as KidsCan and the Greenlea Rescue Helicopter (which services the Taupo and Central Plateau regions). The trust also offers scholarships.
“We've had a lot of support from the community so it is important that we give back.”
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