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Masterclass fills the gaps in ‘gutfeel’


Author: Kate Sims, Agribusiness Project Officer, Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture (TIA)

This article originally appeared in the Spring 2021 edition of AFG, available online here.

With more than 20 years’ experience working at two of the country’s biggest orchards, there is not much Wayne Trengove, of Hansen Orchards, does not know about growing high-quality fruit in Tasmania.

Wayne Trengrove, Hansen Orchard – Graduate Horticultural Business Masterclass 2018.

Wayne manages 100 hectares of cherries and 40 hectares of apples at two sites on Hansen Orchards’ Rosegarland property, in Tasmania’s south. Before joining Hansen, he lent his expertise to Reid Fruits – one of Australia’s largest cherry producers and international exporters of premium fruit.

But a seed of an idea to extend his knowledge was planted when interstate friends spoke highly of study that they had completed the year earlier.

His friends had completed the Masterclass in Horticultural Business through the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture in 2016.

“They have a plant nursery in Queensland, and they said it was a fantastic class,” Wayne said.

“They had gone through the numbers with cost and reward and found some of the decisions they made on ‘gut feeling’ were not smart moves. And as farmers we tend to make a lot of decisions
on ‘gut feeling’.”

Wayne explained that the Horticulture Masterclass introduced him to Sensitivity Analysis, which is key to business management, financial forecasting and predicting the future outcomes of business.

“I applied all aspects of what we learnt in my role,” Wayne explained. “Where the bottom line would come from if we adjusted certain costs; how day-to-day managing people, purchasing items, and understanding decisions we make – that we assume are viable but may not be as viable as we think they are.

“The Masterclass helped me to become a more efficient manager.”

As an ageing, but experienced, workforce is being replaced by younger employees, Wayne found the focus on diversity and managing change particularly useful.

“The workforce is becoming so diverse you need to know how to manage an array of individuals,” Wayne said. “And I wanted to make the workplace as good as I can to attract the next generation of exciting individuals.

“I have two of the youngest guys in the industry – they are the best at their age in Tasmania and I have two of these guys working for me.

“One has come across to horticulture from another industry, while the other is straight out of school. Learning how you manage this cohort compared to older generations really intrigues me.”

From the workshops to the lectures, Wayne spoke highly of his experience, noting he felt encouraged from everyone involved in the delivery of the masterclass.

“The lecturers and associate professors were outstanding,” Wayne said.

“From the lecturers to everyone putting the classes together – you could just see they wanted everyone to succeed.”

And, like his Queensland nursery friends did for him, Wayne said he would happily recommend the course to others, so much so, he is considering going back to school.

“I would say do it. It was totally worthwhile,” he said. “In fact, I have thought ‘should I do it again?’”

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