And that side of the business grows to become an independent transport operator – eventually moving away from the farming altogether.
The history of Fletcher Farms Contractors of Waikari in North Canterbury runs a variation of that theme, in that the initial growth was directed more towards crop harvesting and associated agricultural contracting.
The trucking remained subsidiary to that – until the upheaval of the local industry caused by the collapse of the Transpac Group in the late 1980s more or less dictated the move to a standalone transport division.
There’s another aspect in which Fletcher Farms is distinguished from other operations with a similar historical background: Where typically one of the core activities becomes dominant and defines the modern company, farming, contracting and transport each continue to play a significant part in the Fletcher family mix.
The senior member of the family is Lionel Fletcher. Now 76, he’s been “sort of” retired for over a decade...but is still found at work nearly every day, usually with the contracting division.
He explains: “When I got to be 65, the boys (sons Nigel and Hilton) wanted me to take it a bit more easy, and I did. But there’s still plenty I can do to help out.
“And it’s not as if it’s too physically demanding. Tractor driving with modern models is not strenuous, it’s a matter of experience and being on the ball really. I know I won’t be able to go on forever, but in the meantime I’m enjoying it.”
The Fletcher family’s involvement with the Waikari area goes back to 1955, when Lionel’s parents – who prior to that had been dairy farmers at Springston, south of Christchurch – bought a small block devoted to cereal cropping, plus sheep and beef....
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