How this Rural Focused Startup Battled through the Drought
Delta Agribusiness is a rural services company, dedicated to providing the full range of farming inputs and advisory services, along with marketing rural commodities. Established in April 2006, with branches in Young and Harden, Delta has grown rapidly over the past six years with 2012 proving to be a year of tactical growth for the company with highlights including their merger with JJA, Trangie in March, opening their 19th business location in June at Burren Junction in Northern NSW and featuring on the BRW Fast 100 list for the third consecutive year.
Delta Ag Group Operations Manager, John Pattinson, explains how Delta found their feet in a drought ridden launch phase and have continued their growth to establish themselves as one of the leading forces in the Australian Agribusiness sector with a strategic footprint across NSW.
Starting the company was a perfect storm, explains Pattinson, with the core group of staff working together for ten to fifteen years prior to establishing the company, “We knew we had a unique set of skills and that we were entrepreneurial and competitive. Philosophically we shared the same views, attitudes and approach to business and we were at a stage in our lives that we were looking to back ourselves and have a crack in a truly independent business,” explains Pattinson.
Delta set out to combine the disciplines of a public company, with a controlled approach to financial performance and accountability, with a dynamic, enthusiastic and autonomous frontend “We knew that if we got the backend right we had the skills to get the customer face right. We didn’t worry too much about what was going on around us from a competitive point of view, we were mindful of it but we were focused on providing and adding value to our clients, through agronomy and by creating a relationship and a community with our clients and really becoming a part of their business,” said Pattinson.
Delta works to a simple business model focusing on smaller communities where their business thrives “We offer investment in the community which locals want to see, and rightly so. We know that people are core to our business and we seek out local names and faces that people know and trust to work with us and to build long-term client relationships. We know we need to be competitive, provide the best value possible but fundamentally it’s about having the right people in community to represent our values.” explains Pattinson.
“When we opened our doors, it couldn’t have been during a tougher time. There was a raging drought and the rural community was really doing it tough. Going through those experiences together forms a real bond and it’s those relationships with clients that we value. This helped us convey that we are here for the long haul and that we value our relationships with client’s way beyond the typical client-merchant situation. We know what we need to do commercially but it’s the deeper relationships with our clients that we see the real value in,”said Pattinson.
Over the past six years the Delta Group has grown to include 19 business locations and over 160 employees. Pattinson believes their key to success is having people in the business that clients trust and respect and look to for information, advice and business planning. “We don’t have a war room with dots on maps of where we want to be. As we see it there are two ways we can grow; we can go into districts, run a flag a pole and see who salutes, but we believe that is fraught. The way we have chosen to do it is by aligning ourselves with the right people, rather than the right locations,” explains Pattinson.
“In terms of our mergers, we have seen a couple of reoccurring themes; one is delivering an exit strategy for owners looking to turn their commitment, dedication and life’s work into value. The other theme is from younger businesses that have great people and a strong presence in their location, but are struggling to manage the significant working capital requirements. We look to having ongoing involvement from the business owner. We can create ongoing value for them, their experience, ideas, business practices and we can integrate into the wider business,” said Pattinson.
Pattinson explains that it is onwards and upwards for the Delta Group “We have a healthy appetite, the capacity for sensible growth and there are some great opportunities on the drawing board. We never know where the next opportunity is going to come from and anything that comes along and fits culturally then we look at how we can make it work and benefit the current owners and the wider Delta Group.”