A variety of widely different reports are easily compiled, large seasonal payrolls are managed accurately, and databases are simple to update. Lee Weatherley is the Accountant for the Jace Group, a significant kiwifruit grower and one of the largest privately owned kiwifruit post-harvest companies in New Zealand. The company packs more than eight million trays of kiwifruit per year, primarily for export.
Jace Group owns 77.5 canopy hectares of orchards, mainly in the Bay of Plenty and South Auckland, and leases another 125 hectares. For the complex task of tracking orchard production and costs, it chose Greentree and Partner, Endeavour Solutions.
“We’ve had a good relationship with Endeavour for a long time,” Lee says. “They’re really, really helpful and always there to provide advice whenever we need it.” Jace Group is a key player in the kiwifruit industry, which is one of New Zealand’s multi-million-dollar export successes.
“Because we have to cover from the growing of the crop right through to harvesting, storing and packing, we need a business system that is able to capture all that data and report on it in a wide range of ways,” she explains.
Greentree has to break down the growing costs and returns for each individual orchard, and for each variety of fruit (yes, while they might look similar there are a number of different kiwifruit varieties). Jace Group makes extensive use of Job Costing and Greentree’s transactional analysis capabilities to differentiate between each growing season and variety.
“It’s so easy to extract data – you just push a button and it’s done,” enthuses Lee. “Our data is all live and automated, it’s accurate, and our checks and balances all take place in Greentree.
“Live visibility is important because our managers out in the field need to know where they’re tracking against their budgets,” Lee adds. “We need an ERP system that integrates across our entire business.”
Jace Group’s packing and cool stores in the Bay of Plenty and Auckland are hives of intensive activity during the picking and packing season, which runs from mid-March through to September. As many as 900 people, many of them transient workers, may be employed during the season.
During the 8-10 week main packing season, Jace Group’s facilities will operate 6-7 days a week, up to 21 hours a day. Finger-scanning software is used to record attendance in the packing sheds and the data is automatically uploaded into MYOB Greentree Payroll.
Greentree’s flexibility proved crucial when the PSA bacterial virus swept through the kiwifruit orchards. Exporter Zespri partly overcame the crisis by introducing new varieties of more tolerant plants. “Our Greentree system was flexible enough that we could easily modify our database to include those new varieties,” says Lee.
“Because we have office sites at three different locations and accounting staff at all those sites, we can source data from wherever we happen to be and information on who has entered the data,” Lee says. “Greentree has enabled us to develop sophisticated uploads for lots of data, eliminating human error data entry issues. We have nine or so operating companies within our group, and it’s a tremendous help for me to be able to monitor performance for consistency.
“The industry is growing so much,” Lee concludes. “We’re heading towards higher volumes of fruit and are looking to expand our facilities. We’re confident that Greentree will continue to grow with us and we’re always looking at ways to work smarter with it, to meet any challenges ahead.”