Attendees of this year’s Fieldays event couldn’t possibly overlook a massive marquee resembling an aircraft hangar. Situated right next to the tractor pulling arena, it occupied an entire city block.
Brandt, the dealer for John Deere in agriculture, construction, and forestry, spared no effort for its inaugural presence at the event. The company’s objective was to exhibit its offerings to the New Zealand market, targeting both existing and prospective customers.
In its initial foray into New Zealand, Brandt initially acquired the Cervus Group in October 2021, which was succeeded by the acquisition of AgrowQuip and its depots in January 2023. As of now, the company operates across 17 locations in the North Island. As of the current time, it’s worth noting that the last element of the puzzle for the North Island expansion is about to fall into place, with Brandt having reached a preliminary agreement to take over Wairarapa Machinery Services based in Masterton. This establishment has been serving the Greater Wellington region since 1983.
Based in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada, Brandt operates on multiple fronts, encompassing agriculture, construction, forestry, manufacturing, engineering, and positioning. Additionally, trucks and trailers also form a significant part of their business scope. As one of Canada’s largest privately owned enterprises, the narrative of Brandt is undoubtedly one characterized by impressive accomplishments.
Gavin Semple, the founder of the company, was raised on a cereal farm in Saskatchewan as one of six siblings. Following his time at Luther College, he recognized that his path likely lay beyond the farm, prompting him to embark on a trajectory towards a career in sales. Beginning his journey in a dealership, he diligently invested extensive hours, progressing from a sales cadet to a sales manager, further ascending to higher management roles, and ultimately assuming ownership of the dealership.
In 1984, the company’s growth had led to a workforce of 60 employees and a yearly revenue of Canadian $5 million (NZ$6.15 million). In 1991, an opportunity emerged that transformed Brandt into the exclusive John Deere construction and forestry dealer for the entire Canadian region. Over the subsequent 32 years, the company’s expansion has been substantial, currently managing operations across 135 stores with a staff of 5000 individuals. In addition, its manufacturing division employs 1500 workers and collectively generates approximately Canadian $5 billion ($NZ6.1 billion) in revenue.
Taking a more comprehensive view, considering the expansive scale of the Brandt enterprise, the company acquires approximately 5% of John Deere’s overall agricultural production and an astonishing 15% of their construction and forestry output.
“I originate from a family where the word ‘can’t’ was off-limits, and there was no room for excuses when it came to achieving success – a principle that trickled down to me from the earliest days,” elucidates Shaun Semple, the present CEO. “Survival necessitated action, motivating me to secure business opportunities, even if it meant making cold calls late on a Friday afternoon.”
Despite the challenges posed by Covid-related travel restrictions, Semple has made a remarkable five visits to New Zealand as part of the company’s growing presence in the country.
“In these initial phases, it remains crucial for us to truly comprehend the sectors we serve. Therefore, I anticipate our staff to be actively engaged in the field rather than confined to desks within our depots,” he asserts. “Our pursuit is to enlist exceptional individuals, and we recognized long ago that beyond 5pm, we are more than just a physical structure. We place a strong emphasis on nurturing our employees; thus, every member is a participant in a profit-sharing arrangement. This approach ensures that our dedicated and empowered workforce are essentially stakeholders in the business.”
Consequently, the organization boasts a dedicated workforce, some of whom have remained loyal for over two decades. Semple underscores the necessity of channeling investments into larger premises equipped with enhanced infrastructure. This endeavor aims to amplify work efficiency, provide seamless customer access, and foster an optimal working atmosphere. Additionally, there is a substantial commitment earmarked for establishing a potential Brandt NZ headquarters. This hub of excellence will serve as a focal point for parts, service, and training, offering customers an immersive encounter with the Brandt ethos.
Demonstrating a strong commitment to the communities they serve, Brandt has swiftly allocated $100,000 to regions impacted by floods along the East Coast. Additionally, they have been proactive in assisting with the prompt restoration of machinery operations in those areas.
“In certain respects, our sales and support strategy is straightforward: grasp the issue, present a resolution, and uphold customer relationships with unwavering integrity,” explains Semple. “With three sons actively engaged and numerous family members participating in the company, Brandt remains dedicated to establishing a fresh benchmark for family businesses in New Zealand.”