NZ Dairy Summer 2021

90 | nzdairy Back in the early 1930’s Kerry Ploen’s father Albert started a contracting business in the Manawatu joining forces with the Buchanan family to become Ploen & Buchanan. 40 years later Kerry took over from his father and in the late 80’s he employed a keen young lad with a great work ethic called Peter Fullerton-Smith. By 1995 Peter and Kerry had gone into business together, renaming it KP Contracting to reflect their joint ownership. By then the company had grown from Albert Ploen’s initial “Farmall” tractor, with around 12 horsepower running on steel wheels, to owning a fleet of four, and the core business had changed as well. “Dad grew a few spuds,” says Kerry, “then he ended up helping out other farmers and it grew from there: ploughing, cultivating and planting and gradually building up the machinery to do it efficiently.” KP Contracting can still be found about 10 kilometres south of Palmerston North and their clientele reflects the changing land usage around them with a lot of dairy farmers, as well as sheep and beef, and cropping farmers (on the decline), and more recently a steady flow of lifestylers. The company fleet now numbers more than 20 tractors ranging from 60hp to 300hp, combine harvesters, maize planters, spray trucks and the necessary accompanying implements to complete the scope of work they are used for which has also grown in its size and complexity. “Everything’s got bigger over the years,” says Kerry. “The number of machines, the size of the implements, and the clientele we service with them.” In the last 20 years or so they’ve extended their scope to include the trade and supply of grass and baleage between farmers. “There was a demand out there and we have such a broad clientele it was natural to put them together. So if someone wants 500 square bales of hay we’ll go out and find it, and then when the time comes we bale it up and deliver it to the farmer. We were always looking for more work to keep the machines out working, and it’s just part of what we do now,” explains Peter Clients vary from a lifestyle block needing 100 conventional bales still small enough to be lifted by hand, to a farm with 3000 cows and enough paddocks of hay to be converted into big rounds or squares to get through the winter. KP Contracting’s work flows with the seasons and mirrors the fluctuating demands made by the cycle of growing and harvesting of various crops. Haymaking happens in the hottest part of the year and dovetails in with the wheat and barley ready for harvest in February and March. Green crops are ploughed back into the grass and by May it’s time for the maize harvest. In amongst it all they carry on the tradition that began with Albert’s potatoes back in the 30’s. “We still lease a few paddocks to grow a few crops of our own like maize, wheat and barley,” says Kerry, “then we sell it off to the farm supply companies and local poultry producers. Keeping up with technology costs money but at the same time makes savings with applications like GPS tracking, automatic boom-cutoff, and auto-steer capable of mapping and managing jobs in real time with pinpoint accuracy. Their team of 10 operators using computers to record their jobs saves a lot of paperwork and means no jobs get lost so it works for drivers and management alike, although it still needs the capable hands of Office Manager Kelly to make sure things at KP Contracting keep running smoothly. Having spent his whole working life in the business it’s clear that although Kerry is selling some of his shares to a younger worker his deep affection for the business won’t change and he knows it will stay in good hands. “We’ve got an excellent clientele and suppliers and I’ve dealt with multi-generation families over the years,’ says Kerry. “It’s been a privilege and a pleasure to work with and get to know some really good people, and a lot of them have become good friends.” It sounds like the boat he plans to spend more time on once he’s semi-retired better have plenty of room for extras! RURAL SERVICES » KP Contracting Ltd KP Contracting’s fleet and staff still growing KP Contracting’s fleet now numbers more than 20 tractors ranging from 60hp to 300hp, combine harvesters, maize planters, spray trucks and the necessary accompanying implements. Karen Phelps “We’ve got an excellent clientele and suppliers and I’ve dealt with multi-generation families.” Proud to support Kerry, Peter & the team at KP Contracting Ltd. Proudly supplying KP Contracting Ltd Proud to be suppliers to KP Contracting Ltd FREIGHT, FERTILISER APPLICATION, QUARRY SUPPLIES AND EXCAVATION 0800 SHN BULK Robertson Isuzu are proud to support KP Contracting Ltd 56 Railway Rd, Palmerston North 06 355 5062