Silver Fern Farms is celebrating 25 years in Dargaville and now employs 130 locals — up from 65 when it first opened.
The plant began as Lowe Walker with the first animal processed on June 28, 1993.
“We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for our loyal, valued suppliers. In the beginning, Mayor Brown fought to get the facility built here in Dargaville. The other location option was the old money factory in Whangarei,” says manager, Lance Warmington.
The plant took 12 weeks to build, and the staff size doubled in 1994 with a second shift bringing more than $325 million into the local economy in wages since then.
“That is $13–15 million a year, and we try to purchase as much locally as possible to support the local economy.
“There are four long-standing employees from the original team — Narina Larsen now our purchasing coordinator, David (Pop) Hutchinson our night shift plant supervisor, Brian Boydt and Warren (Paua) Clarke. We are a small plant, and it is important to us to develop our management team with staff working their way up from the floor.
“We have people from many cultures here and compared to other plants across the country Dargaville is one of the best-performing in the group. National and international visitors constantly comment on the friendliness of our staff.
“I am proud to celebrate this 25-year milestone with my team — bricks and mortar make a plant, but it is the people that are the heart of these plants that make it a good place to come to every day.”