Otago/Southland TSR Korena McDermott looks after about 120 farmers in the West Otago area and is based at the Gore Farm Source store.
Korena grew up in Riversdale and has worked in the agricultural sector for many years. Prior to joining the Farm Source team she worked for Ballance Agri-Nutrients and has also run a farm block in southern Southland.
Korena started with Farm Source more than 15 years ago and worked her way up from assistant store manager to manager of both the Wyndham and Gore stores. A desire to get out on the road and further develop her skills saw her take up the challenge of the TSR role two-and-a-half years ago.
For Korena, the most rewarding part of her job is getting to build solid and lasting relationships with farmers.
"I really enjoy the people. Working with my farmers year in and year out has built a level of trust and mutual respect that has led not only to an increase in business, but a relationship that extends much deeper than just being the local rep," says Korena.
The variety of the job is another highlight, as is seeing the next generation of farmers take the reins.
"No two days are the same and I also love watching people grow in their business and seeing a number of young farmers coming through into the industry."
With a keen interest in agronomy, Korena keeps up-to-date with seed trials and she never turns down the chance to upskill with agronomy training modules and other industry experts.
"I have worked closely with the seed, fert and chemical supply chain and I understand the importance of getting the right solutions to our farmers when needed," she says.
Keeping up with industry changes and developments is important and the support of vendor reps is vital.
"Farming is always evolving and so are the products and systems that we help our farmers with. There is always something new to learn. You need to be up with what’s happening in farming and our vendor reps can be more knowledgeable in their field so I turn to them to help teach me more about their products, especially if it gives my farmers a better solution than they currently have. They are also very useful out on farm to solve any issues."
After so many years with Farm Source, Korena thinks there are two reasons her farmers turn to her for advice.
"Confidence and honesty. Of those I think honesty is the most important. But confidence is important as well, because otherwise farmers will be reluctant to trust you. Every time you talk with them you have to leave a good impression – show you're confident and can do the job," she says.
Added to that is Farm Source’s commitment to understanding their farmers’ needs and helping their businesses thrive.
"We are the dairy specialists. We are also owned by our farmer shareholders and in turn give back to them with things like Farm Source Rewards."
Ahead of the hectic calving season, Korena says many of her farmers will take the opportunity to take a well-earned break with their family.
Outside work, Korena enjoys rugby and boating in Fiordland with her family; she is married to Nathan, is mum to Monique, Kaitlyn, Flynn and Bayden, and recently became grandmother to new baby Isabella. Korena is also involved with the Wyndham Rugby Club Committee and the NZ Dairy Industry Awards Committee for Otago/Southland Region.