Avoworks is a specialist avocado orchard management and contracting service company based in the Bay of Plenty, acquired by Darling Group three years ago. The Avoworks team are becoming the go to people in the avocado industry for large scale developments, orchard management, and skilled contracting.
Avoworks General Manager Nathan Darling says the focus for the business is growth and orchard outcomes for their clients.
“Working towards better productivity and profitability for the orchards that we manage and for our clients is what motivates us.”
Nathan returned to Katikati in 2016 after completing a Bachelor of Agriculture at Lincoln University and working in various other primary sector roles. He joined the family business in 2016 and then moved into a leadership role following the acquisition of Avoworks.
“We took on the business with two permanent employees and this has grown to twenty-five.
“Avoworks was previously mainly doing avocado harvesting and pruning. Now we are doing anything and everything involved with growing a crop of avocados, kiwifruit, or blueberries.
“In the peak season, like today, we have forty-five people working for us, and it can go up to about 60.”
The business has grown rapidly in the last few years driven by the increase in large scale avocado developments and demand for skilled, knowledgeable, and reliable contractors in the avocado industry.
“Integrity is a big part of my approach, doing what we say, doing a really good job and also doing a job that is going to benefit them [clients] from a production point of view.”
Avoworks operates across the growing regions but has a focus on the Bay of Plenty.
Nathan says his favourite project to date has been the management and development of Uretara orchard in Katikati.
“I took over the management of Uretara three years ago and at that point it was a mature orchard with big trees and sick trees.
“Darling Group then purchased some neighbouring land of 10 hectares and we are in the process of developing that. There has been a lot of earthworks, high density planting, and big irrigation systems on top of bringing the older existing orchard up to scratch and up to standard in terms of production.
“The orchard is doing really well now, every year the production is climbing. It had an average of eight tonnes per hectare when I started. This year we are sitting on about fourteen tonnes per hectare so it’s still not great, but we have come a long way and it’s going to continue.”
Avoworks has a high performing and enthusiastic team.
“Cameron Byrom is operations manager for the contracting side of the business in the BOP, he sets up the crews and does the quality control. We have supervisors reporting to him – Hamish, James and Campbell, and a couple of truck drivers. We also have orchard managers and staff in Tapora and the Far North.
“Erica Faber, technical manager for Just Avocados works with us as well. She takes care of the technical advisory for our clients and we can call upon her to give support when we are looking at orchard development and management.”
Clients are also able to work alongside the Avoworks team.
“It works well with the harvesting, it’s good to have the grower on the tractor and it saves the client money as well. We sometimes have clients that help with the chipping or the chain sawing when we are doing the pruning.”
Avoworks has a variety of equipment to tackle any job including fifteen elevating work platforms, ten tractors, three trucks, chippers, mulchers, mowers, and various sprayers for crops and weeds.
Current projects for the team are harvesting, pruning, and applying fertiliser, as well as setting up management systems for a 50-hectare orchard in Tapora.
Nathan says that pruning now before summertime is important and clients should be booking that in as soon as possible.
“We have a specialised pruning crew that we carry right through the busy harvesting season, which is quite unique as other contractors are busy harvesting.”
Nathan says the team have capability to take on further harvesting work and offer bin rates for this service and will also tailor programmes to suit a client’s requirements across their range of services.