Rural driver training operator, Ag Drive has signed a long-term lease to run their business and all driver training from New Zealand National Fieldays Society (NZNFS) venue, Mystery Creek Events Centre, also the home of Fieldays.
Ag Drive is a success story which was born out of the opportunities that the 2020 lockdown created. Director, Andre Syben, realised that there would be a huge shortage of drivers and machine operators, as a result of our borders being closed, which halted the usual influx of migrants coming to New Zealand. “We saw a big gap that had opportunity written all over it, so we ran with it,” says Syben. “Since then, we’ve gone from strength to strength and we’re now looking forward to our next stage of growth.”
Ag Drive offers a full range of tractor, quad motorbike, light utility vehicle and 2-wheeler operator courses. Their courses are offered at various levels from introductory skills for novice drivers to programmes for employers to train their staff. After an exciting year of growth, they’re now the biggest operator in the Waikato. Ag Drive has grown quickly because of the demand and was delighted to win the “Innovation and Adaption” and the “Excellence in New and Emerging Business” award at the 2020 Waipa Network Business Awards.
NZNFS CEO Peter Nation says the partnership is all about continuing to advance the rural sector and optimising the venue in a Covid affected world. “We’re moving into a new era at NZNFS,” says Nation. “Like so many other businesses we’ve had to take what we’ve learnt and adapt to fit with the way the world has changed. This partnership is about synergies, learning, and helping each other grow.”
With our strategic pillars of Innovation, Education and Globalisation, Ag Drive seemed a perfect fit for us. As well as sharing the same values and connection to the farming sector, they are an excellent, vibrant team who are going to bring a whole new dynamic to the venue. It’s fair to say we’re really well aligned!”
Syben says there were many factors that attracted them to Mystery Creek Events Centre. “Fieldays is truly iconic and we love the fact they’re so entwined with the rural sector. They’re also a great team to work with and have been incredibly accommodating. The terrain will also make a huge difference. There’s plenty of flat space plus a huge variety of hills so we’ll be able to offer a true on the job driver experience. Work-readiness is really key in our game, so we couldn’t be happier.”
Ag Drive’s growth and move to Mystery Creek sees Janine Peters take up position as CEO for the company with Paula Syben appointed as COO. A new three-person board has been established including Richard Williams and Craig Barrett, both directors of Waikato based accounting firm Baker Tilly Staples Rodway Waikato. Syben says the new management and governance structure will ensure the highest levels of diligence and observance are maintained as we continue on our path of sustained growth with the addition of new courses and training programmes due to be implemented in the New Year.
Nation is excited about Fieldays 2022. “2021 was an outstanding event – both in terms of attendance and positive feedback. We have a hard act to follow so we’re working on how to lift the bar across all aspects of the event. The team has been busy!
In the meantime, we look forward to welcoming our new partners in February 2022 and working together to keep building the sector we love.”