Taylor Corporation

A company putting Hawke's Bay apples in the world's fruit baskets

  • Taylor Corporation

    Kelvin Taylor with apples destined for export.

There’s a saying that “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree” and it rings true of the Taylor family, who have been in the apple business for ninety years.

Kelvin Taylor, managing director of fruit packing and exporting company Taylor Corporation, followed his father Wally and grandfather Walter into the industry in the early 1960s.  Kelvin worked for his father and at the age of 18, sold his car and used the proceeds to buy five hectares next door to develop his own orchard and packing facility.  Today, spread over 300 hectares in Hastings district are the pack house and Golden Del orchards, the Taylor-owned apple orchards that feed its packing and exporting business.

Kelvin and wife Lynette’s children Claire, Natalie and Cameron, along with their respective spouses, are all involved in running the business.  During ‘the season’, the pack house sorts and packs up to 250 tonnes of apples every day (that’s 2,000 apples every minute), while 300 workers are picking fruit to keep up.  Apples are the lifeblood of the business and every single suitable one is exported.  The apples that cannot be exported go to local fruit juice processors, Profruit.

“Our primary export markets are Europe, North America, China, Taiwan and Indonesia – nothing is kept for the New Zealand market,” says Kelvin.  Compliance paperwork is a “huge thing” for the business and is handled in-house, with a fully computerised system managing MAF, shipping and market documentation.

There’s also plenty of paperwork involved with the company being a Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE), a government-initiated employment scheme that allows companies to bring in foreign workers to boost the workforce during the picking season.  Kelvin accommodates his 300 workers on the orchards and in homes the company owns.  “Having workers living on the orchards or near the pack house works really well.  We have staff on site so it’s very easy to communicate with them.”

However, getting Kiwis to work on the orchard is a continuous struggle.  “The RSE scheme requires a certain number of New Zealanders to be employed.  But it’s really hard to get them.  Basically they don’t want to work ten hour days, six days a week picking apples. Without the overseas workers, we’d be in trouble.”

Each year, many of the same overseas workers return to work for Kelvin.  “They are already trained and know what to expect,” he says.  “We know that at least once, one of our RSE workers was the third highest wage earner in Tuvalu, following the Prime Minister and a government official, so they’re always keen to come back!”

Being self-sufficient is an important factor in the Taylor’s business.  “We listen to the market and make our own decisions.  We are autonomous,” says Kelvin.
Kelvin met Moore Stephens Markhams director Dan Druzianic when he was a banker and financed Kelvin into a land purchase.  When Kelvin’s accountant, Ernie Williams left Moore Stephens Markhams, Dan took over and has been looking after Taylor Corp’s financial matters for over a decade.

Dan does the company’s annual accounts and handles all taxation compliance matters.  “He’s the number cruncher,” laughs Kelvin.  “He’s good – conservative and proper, which is what we want.”


Published Spring 2013.

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