Business Rural Summer 2021

70 | Mastering on-farm technology is key REL Group ute towing an auger (top). Michael Loe’s Dairy Shed (below). Virginia Wright W hile 27 year old Hayden Kuyf wasn’t around when his parents bought Rakaia Engineers and opened for business 30 odd years ago, he’s been part of it since he first arrived on the scene in 1994. By then John and Jeanette had been in business for three years, and John had made the first of many trips to meet with Canadian and North Ameri- can suppliers of the sort of steel silos that still sit at the core of their business. “We were known for our steel, hopper bottom silo’s and for manufacturing a lot of truck decks and heavy rollers and various bits of farm machinery,” says Hayden. “Then Dad saw this gap in the market and an opportunity to bring some off-shore technology from the wheat-belt of the world into New Zealand. The grain market here was increasing and while we were making silos around three and a half metres wide, Westeel, Westfield, Batco and the like were making them around seven metres wide, good quality, at a good price point. We didn’t even have the capacity to compete.” We brought in grain storage technologies from around the world which didn’t really exist in New Zealand before that,” explains Hayden, “designed by the biggest producing companies to condition the grain and keep its quality while it’s being stored. It’s a vital part of the supply chain.” Fast forward 27 years and Hayden, complete with a Commerce degree from the University of Otago, is now the National Grain Representative for the freshly rebranded business. Rakaia Engineering is now REL Group; the name reflecting its change from a family-owned business to one in which the majority shareholders are a group of like-minded investors who want to be part of taking the busi- ness to the next level. “They’re actively working with us in the business,” says Hayden, “and our plan is to grow the business here in New Zealand as well as in Australia.” John’s knack of predicting a gap in the market has continued to pay off over the years, both for the Kuyfs and for the agricultural industry. He backs it up with the research he needs to identify the top international manufacturers of agricultural products well suited to New Zealand’s needs. A busy few years of heavy involvement in dairy conversions in the late 1990’s brought more in- novation using off-shore technology when, as well as manufacturing dairy platforms, sheds and yards, Rakaia Engineers fitted the first of the in-shed feed systems which have since become commonplace. “We were building up to ten dairy sheds a year and installing them around the country as well as ex- RURAL SERVICES » Rakaia Engineering • To page 72.