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CLIENT NEWS: Innovation, entrepreneurship allow CRV Ambreed to achieve 50-year milestone

CRV Ambreed turns fifty this year.

Over the past five decades the company has consistently helped farmers achieve herds that are easy to work with and profitable, ensuring a better life for farmers, their herds and New Zealand’s economy. 

Managing director Angus Haslett says the key to the company’s long-term success has been its culture of innovation and entrepreneurship.

“When our founders started the company in 1969, their main goal was to provide New Zealand dairy farmers with an alternative to the market leader. But they also knew it wasn’t going to be enough just to go up against the market dominator head-to-head. 

“They were strategically clever to, over the years, bring in new capital, new investors and new technologies that allowed them to disrupt the industry in a positive way. They leveraged assets to become a differentiated leader and enhance what they already had for the benefit of local farmers.

“Fifty years later, CRV Ambreed is recognised as a strong, innovative artificial breeding company here in New Zealand. Our steadfastness has served to lift the strength and competitiveness of the industry as a whole. I confidently believe our founding shareholders’ original vision has been, and continues to be, realised,” says Haslett.

CRV Ambreed’s ownership changed several times over the years. The original company, Ambreed NZ Ltd, was purchased by Animal Enterprises Ltd in 1983, one of New Zealand’s largest livestock exporting firms, and in 1989 by the New Zealand Dairy Board.

However, when global AI leader CRV Delta acquired Ambreed in 2003, Haslett says the perfect timing of that acquisition set the company up for a new era of market competitiveness.

“That acquisition saw us truly consolidate Ambreed as a grazing genetics supplier to New Zealand’s farmers. It gave us access to world-leading, new technologies we could deliver to our New Zealand farmers. 

“CRV Delta’s strong heritage in dairy genetics gave our local team a competitive advantage that allowed us to position ourselves to maximise our team’s innovative culture here in New Zealand. It was a new chapter for the company, and we grabbed the opportunity with both hands – all for the benefit of New Zealand dairy farmers,” explains Haslett.

Haslett said his team at CRV Ambreed has much to be proud of, but two accomplishments stick out in his mind.

“Our people can take pride in the value that CRV Ambreed has created for the industry by raising the bar with respect to genetic gain in New Zealand – that’s number one. 

“And we can also be proud of the way we’ve always sought to invest and lead when it comes to innovation and entrepreneurship in the industry.” 

Recent examples include investments in embryo services and environmental sustainability. Another stand-out is a strategic investment into genotyping, with the aim to increase reliability on genomic breeding values. CRV Ambreed partnered with DairyFutures CRC and created a combined Oceania reference population with Australia.

Haslett says although the company sits at second place in the market, CRV Ambreed has never been content with being a market follower. It always seeks to be on the cutting edge. 

“Those who know us well know our team always want to be better, be first and stand apart. Because we know when we keep pushing ourselves to lead in the areas where we can that the whole industry – particularly New Zealand dairy farmers – benefits.

“Over the years we’ve achieved several market ‘firsts,’ including being the first to market sexed semen from New Zealand bulls in New Zealand, being the first to bring environmental genetics to the market and being the first to launch a genetic solution to facial eczema to name a few,” says Haslett.

Every accomplishment, says Haslett, is because CRV Ambreed is made up of some very special people.

“Our staff have a unique spirit. When new people join CRV, they are carried along by the passion and enthusiasm of others. Our culture is infectious and enduring and accounts for the many people who have been part of our team for over 20 years.

“We’re all able to maintain that passion and fire because, at the end of day, we get huge enjoyment out of playing a part in helping farmers achieve their breeding goals,” explains Haslett.

CRV Ambreed partners with breeders right across the country and Haslett says these relationships are invaluable.

“CRV Ambreed’s innovative nature looks to attract innovative breeders. They are insightful people who are extremely skilled and whom we highly value. We look to them to partner with us so the progress they make on farm with genetic solutions sets us apart,” he says.

CRV Ambreed values its relationship with its farmer customers, too, explains Haslett.

“We’ve always had a very loyal core customer base and we have a healthy respect for each other. 

“Our farmers may not always feel we have a solution they need every single season, but we always leave the door open and see customers return again and again. We stick to our principles and they stick to theirs and that creates a strong bond between us.”

As a leader and innovator, Haslett says his team is on the hunt for the next big thing and with the focus on sustainability he believes one burgeoning opportunity is in precision agriculture and artificial intelligence (AI).

“If we can leverage what’s happening globally in artificial intelligence for agriculture, New Zealand farmers will see a powerful opportunity. Utilising the best of artificial intelligence technologies will transform the future for both our company and for our farmers’ businesses. It will allow us to be more profitable, more sustainable, more productive as an industry.

“We need to tap into what world-leaders in this area are developing and the best innovations are potentially not going to be coming out of the sort of companies you’d expect. In the world of data, it’s companies like Google and IBM that are taking an interest in agriculture,” he says.

When asked if CRV Ambreed will be here in another fifty years, Haslett is quick to affirm.

“CRV Ambreed is in great shape and is operating off a solid platform to keep moving forward. Our Bellevue Production and Logistics Centre is a good example - as the hub of our operation it’s been built to last at least another 50, perhaps 75 years.

“Plus, we’re continuing to invest into new technologies and genetic innovations that will enhance environmental sustainability, animal welfare and more. As we continue to hold our unique position in the market, we’ll be a reliable partner for many future generations of New Zealand dairy farmers.”