Taranaki TSR Dean Kane has been part of the Fonterra family since before it was Fonterra. He started working for Kiwi Cooperative Dairies (Kiwi) after he left Stratford High School, working as a storeman with Kiwi Trading Stores for nine years.
Then in 1991 he hit the road as a milk tanker driver, first for Kiwi and then for Fonterra after the merger in 2001. All up, Dean spent two decades as a tanker driver before taking up the role of On Farm Asset Technician in 2013. Three years later, he made the move into his current role as TSR for the Kaponga Farm Source store, putting his total experience with the Co-op at an impressive 35 years.
After such loyal service, it’s not surprising that Dean is totally committed to Fonterra’s vision and values.
“Without our farmers we have nothing. Being 100 percent owned by New Zealand farmers makes us stand out from our competitors and our large scale can offer farmers good prices, great deferred terms and, of course, Farm Source Reward Dollars,” he says.
Dean works with 180 farmers in the central Taranaki area and he says that supporting and helping them is what he most enjoys about his role.
“We have a high percentage of owner-operator farmers on farms in Taranaki, which I think is quite unique these days.”
The aim for most of Dean’s farmers this month is getting new crops of maize, chicory and turnips planted and establishing well.
After a good winter, farmers in the area have had a slow spring and growth is coming in bursts. There are reports of a lack of surplus feed about and supplements still being fed. Milk production is up but could be up further still if the weather co-operated.
With so many years’ experience working side by side with farmers, Dean knows how to spot a farmer in need of a bit of extra support.
“One of my farmers was having a tough day and things on the farm were not going so great. I asked him to make time to come down to the store for our next in-store BBQ which we put on for farmers once a week to give them a break from the farm and calving. I knew it’d help if he could just to come down and talk with other farmers and find out that he is not the only one having a hard time. It’s just a good chance to talk with others,” says Dean.
Knowing when to ask for help is also something Dean tries to remind himself of from time to time.
“Getting around to everyone in the busy periods is one of the more challenging aspects of the job. As is remembering I don’t need to have all the answers but know where to get them.
“Thankfully, we work closely with our vendor reps, who have a lot of experience in their respective fields. This ensures we are giving our farmers the most correct and up-to-date advice.
“Recently I had a farmer with some forage rape that had some high nitrates, so I got in touch with Laura from Agricom who went out to visit the farmer. The farmer was really grateful and rang Laura later to thank her. Time is never an issue.”
Dean has been married 28 years and has 2 adult children. His wife Leanne has just started with Genesis as the Taranaki sales manager and will in fact will be working with Fonterra farmers. The couple enjoy travelling and catching up with friends in their spare time.