Bronwyn Gilchrist picked up a few new things when she moved from Marlborough to Canterbury. One was learning about large-scale farming, the other was her nickname.
"Prior to coming to Canterbury, the largest number of cows I had milked was 450. I had some knowledge of the large scale of dairy farming in Canterbury prior to moving but really needed to know what makes these larger farmers "tick". So, I surrounded myself with some of the area’s top farmers - who were milking 1,200 cows-plus - to learn the mechanics of large-scale farming and get on their relief milking roster. The rest is history. Along with the name "Bronza" which has stuck for life," says Bronwyn.
As the Technical Sales Rep (TSR) for the Rakaia and Methven stores, Bronwyn looks after about 120 farms in the central Canterbury region. She’s been a TSR for 13 of her 15 years with Farm Source and truly values the relationships she’s built with her customers over that time.
"I have a few customers that fall into the 14-years-plus category. I have just had my first customer buy their first farm after working their way from a herd manager. I share their pain, sorrow, happiness, joy, passion and watch their children grow up," says Bronwyn.
Before making the move to Canterbury, Bronwyn spent 11 years working on dairy farms in the Marlborough region in various roles. Prior to that she had completed a pre-entry course at Nelson Polytechnic before entering the Farm Cadet scheme. She holds a National Diploma in Agribusiness management and National Certificates in Rural Servicing, Agrichemical Supply (Animal and Plant Protection), Rural Staff Management, On Farm Milk Quality (Farm Dairy Supervisor), On Farm Milk Quality (Milk Harvester), Artificial Insemination (Site Technician), Agriculture (Dairy Strand), Taxation and Risk Management, Business Planning, Physical Resource Management, Capital Management, Financial Planning, and Production Management.
With such a good practical grounding in dairy farming, Bronwyn’s customers know she truly understands the nature of farming.
"My phone is always on when cows magically appear on the road at midnight or we have a weather event. The majority of my farmers know that I know farming is a seven-day-a-week job and often work extended hours over spring when the pressure is on. A customer did get a shock when he rung once at 4.30am in the morning and I answered."
It’s obvious Bronwyn takes a genuine interest in her farmers, their families, their business goals and aspirations. She also keeps some handy mantras top of mind.
"I have a few golden rules; like ‘A problem shared is a problem halved’, ‘Happy wife, happy life’, ‘You are a long time dead’, ‘Go hard or go home’, ‘Those who laugh last laugh the best’ and, my favourite, ‘Surround yourself with successful people and their success will rub off on you’. "
In a region where the typical herd size is well above the national average, Bronwyn says the focus for her farmers in June will be on farm inductions and training, transitioning onto winter crops and getting cowsheds ready for spring.
Outside work, Bronwyn is active in the Dog Show community and has been a Girl Guide leader for 14 years.
"I am owned by one ginger cat called Ninja and I am actively involved in the dog world. I can often be found stewarding over a weekend or at the national dog show."