Aligned values and strong relationships are crucial to the success of Hawke’s Bay orchardists Marian and Graham Hirst.
The couple joined FMG in 1990 just as they were starting out. At the time Marian says they were establishing their orchard and paying their insurance premiums was a challenge.
“Finding that premium in those early years was really hard.”
On advisement they took out insurance, including FMG’s hail cover—and just as well.
“We were just coming up to our first commercial harvest of apples when we had a giant hailstorm. All the crop was hit,” says Marian.
“We wouldn’t have been able to continue our business if we didn’t have that hail cover.”
Fast forward 30 years and both the orchard and FMG’s relationship with the successful pair has grown.
The Hirsts now have a 40ha pipfruit and blueberry operation, have nine permanent employees and welcome up to 100 seasonal workers. They also have plans to expand, some of which preceded the Covid-19 lockdown, including an expanded blueberry operation. They also continue to develop their apple varieties to meet market demands.
It’s an interesting time but one in which FMG is privileged to support them through.
As part of good business practice, Marian says they do review their insurance options but have always chosen to stay with FMG.
“We stay with FMG for all the right reasons. It meets our requirements from being a farming focused insurer, to providing value for product—and then there’s the relationship we have.”
“We believe strongly in partnerships and relationships with those who we work with—this spans our hort advisors, suppliers, accountant, lawyer and our apple exporter, for example. All the businesses and people we’ve chosen to work with, our values align and that makes for long-term relationships,” says Marian.
Over the years, the Hirsts have had a few claims through FMG and say that they had good support, and the assessment and payment process was quick.
They’ve also been impressed with FMG’s risk advice.
“Talking through our risk management has been exceptionally valuable. It’s impressive and surprising the depth of rural knowledge we’ve seen,” says Marian.