Fertiliser and animal nutrition specialist Summit Quinphos is celebrating its 20th birthday after almost falling at the first hurdle.
Co-founders Bert Quin and Grant McComb set up Quinphos Fertilisers (NZ) Ltd in 1989 to independently market RPR (reactive phosphate rock) after Dr Quin had spent many years in MAF’s Agricultural Research Division (now AgResearch) conducting his own research on RPR and nitrogen, and eventually coordinating national RPR trials while Chief Scientist for Soil Fertility at Ruakura in Hamilton.
Mr McComb recalls that the company almost collapsed when its first shipment arrived in Whangarei amid a waterfront strike, and the planned partial unloading at Mount Maunganui had to be bypassed in favour of Napier, where Quinphos had no facilities.
“The shipping backlog was costing us in extra charter fees. It was a hairy start. We nearly went under,” said Mr McComb.
He rushed to Napier to secure storage, and talked a friend, Mark Gemmell, into promoting the RPR in the Gisborne region.
Mr Gemmell has covered the Gisborne patch ever since, and still enjoys advising farmers on the East Coast.
He lays claim to having placed the first sales order in the Quinphos order book to a neighbour Warwick Hickling.
As well as being a Summit Quinphos sales consultant Mr Gemmell is also a successful farmer in his own right.
He says farmers often now look at his own 720ha farm as a benchmark before deciding to make the switch to using RPR and the Summit Quinphos approach.
“Because they can see the results I’ve achieved on my own farm, it gives them the confidence to make the switch. I do the recommendations to help them achieve their production goals and 20 years of success shows the SQ approach is working.”
He said Mr Hickling had since retired, but his son was still a committed Summit Quinphos customer.
Dr Quin is still in business with Mr McComb, but both have sold their interests in Summit Quinphos.
“When I left in 2005 I felt Summit Quinphos had achieved a great deal,” said Dr Quin.
“Hopefully it will continue to do so for farmers who want and need a higher level of technical on-farm service. Summit Quinphos provides that, and those alternative products that are better for the environment.
“We prided ourselves on being the bolshie independent. And I am proud of the work we did on the nitrogen side, introducing SustaiN.”
To celebrate the achievement, Summit-Quinphos is giving away 20,000 Fly Buys points in a nationwide campaign to run through March and April, promoting one prize of 10,000 Fly Buys points, and 10 prizes of 1000 points each.
Summit-Quinphos general manager Willie Thomson says the company introduced the Fly Buys programme to the fertiliser industry just on a year ago, and more than 90 percent of its regular customer base has signed up.
“We weren’t sure what the response would be, but it is clearly something farming families want to be part of and we will look at further ways of enhancing our Fly Buys offering,” says Mr Thomson.
“It doesn’t take long for a typical farmer to earn a significant number of points. It makes us a little bit different and is one further advantage of being a Summit Quinphos customer.”
4 March 2010