Posted April 7, 2022
All content reprinted courtesy of the ACA Magazine
Our CEO David (Doc) Hunter was recently interviewed by the Australian Campdrafting Association, of whom Riverina Stockfeeds are a proud gold sponsor.
David has been part of the agricultural industry all his life, and with a resume spanning the globe, he brings a wealth of experience to the Riverina team. Read on to learn more about David’s career and his current role with Riverina!
Q: ACA members know Riverina, but they may not be familiar with the people behind the company - can you tell us a bit about yourself?
A: “I grew up in Moree - my father was a doctor there for 40 years, so my nickname is ‘Doc’. I have worked in agriculture my whole life, during and ever since leaving boarding school. I was a jackaroo on a sheep and cattle property in Moree, in northern NSW. Then I went away to Orange Ag College for two years before picking up my first ‘career role’ working in the cotton industry. I worked my way up in the cotton industry for thirteen years before making a change to manage a 10,000 acre cattle property. In 2006 I took an opportunity and started working for Riverina. I worked my way up to General Manager before leaving to work for Consolidated Pastoral Company (CPC) as a Sales and Logistics Manager. I then worked for the Australian Agriculture Company (AACo) in the same position before an opportunity to take up the role of CEO in Riverina became available.”
Q: Tell us a bit about your education history.
A: “Six years in a Sydney boarding school certainly opened my eyes before heading out into the world. Two years as a jackaroo (some of the best education you can get in my opinion) before heading to Orange Ag College. Post that, my career and professional development has seen me based in Memphis, Tennessee training to be a cotton classer (I also did my wool classing certificate in my earlier days). As a qualified cotton classer, I was posted to Bremen, Germany. Great experience where I learned a lot about Becks Beer and Irish pubs. Mostly, I have learned through experience and from people around me. Listening is a skill in itself and learning from experience is the most effective form of education for me. Working in this role has taught me so much and I continue to learn everyday.”
Q: How have you progressed through your roles at Riverina?
A: I started out as the Warwick Branch Manager in 2006, which kept me busy for two years before I was promoted to General Manager (Feed Division). A five year stint away then saw me appointed as Chief Executive Officer of Riverina Australia. The feed industry is complex and requires a fair bit of experience which is probably the same in any business dealing with livestock. You can learn the business side of things and animal nutrition in university, but you cannot learn feed milling itself. I grew in the company by utilising past experience and learning new things as I went. One of my biggest strengths is my people skills, so I not only worked hard but ensured I made it fun as well. I prefer an inclusive approach to my role, so my team doesn't spend energy second guessing what is going on. It’s important to have aligned management teams.
Q: What does your current role as CEO & Managing Director entail?
A: “Steering the company to our vision (‘your partner of choice in feeding the world’), to explore growth opportunities and provide support or discipline as required to keep Riverina as a leading food & commodity supplier for years to come. Our culture is strong, and my role is to foster that into an even stronger and inclusive form. Riverina has two divisions - the Feed Division comprising six branches with feed mills and a total of 220 staff, 24 trucks and 26 vehicles. We also have the Commodity Trading Division who buy and sell wheat, sorghum, barley, corn and protein meals both domestically and internationally. Supporting all this we have a fantastic team of dedicated staff in the Head Office to provide assistance to the branches. Our staff love our customers and so it is our job as their managers to ensure they can be the best they can be. Transparency and inclusive management are a key focus for me everyday in enriching our staff experience.”
Q: What’s a current ‘day in your life’ look like?
A: I’m in the Brisbane office about 5:15-5:30 in the morning and I peruse emails, review previous day numbers and commodity markets before setting up for the day’s meetings. Often, I will meet with my executive leadership team across finance, corporate strategy, human resources, safety, feed division and commodity trading division. There is also the responsibility to report to our shareholders on specific events or projects. On other days, I can be found travelling around the sites, engaging with staff, reviewing our capital work programs or meeting with customers big or small. I find meeting with staff on any level and engaging conversation gives me a check on the pulse of the company and our culture. Employee awareness of our vision is important and you cannot achieve that without employee engagement. Attending meetings with industry stakeholders is also a requirement but not always productive. As you can see my days are varied. It is no different to being a jackaroo, you need to know how to do all of the jobs so you can understand the business and the complex levers that help drive productivity in the manufacturing and trading environment. At the end of the day I try to be home in time for dinner at 6.30PM every night. Enjoying a meal with family every night is good for the soul and good for the whole family. Something I look forward to.
Q: What’s the Riverina working environment like?
A: “Passionate, loyal and localised. Our sites revolve around our customers. All of those staff who live and breathe in that local town contribute to the local community in numerous ways and we support those businesses that support us. Head Office where I sit is just a provider of services to those regional branches and businesses where the heart of the country resides. I enjoy working with the people who are part of Riverina and the people we provide service to - the agricultural industry is the best place to be.”
Q: Riverina has now sponsored the ACA for 21 years - what sparked this relationship?
A: “We look at a lot of things when we go to support and I imagine it is the same with ACA. When we started sponsoring ACA, we checked that we were both aligned with what we do. Both our organisations are deeply entrenched in the rural community. Each shares an involvement and affinity to horses and the beef industry. The ACA members are country people making their living in agriculture and so too are Riverina. Through commonality we share similar values in business and pleasure. Riverina operations are in country towns where the fabric of the community is supported with great events like the local shows and campdrafts. Riverina has never been a Major Sponsor of anyone, and this was a big step for the company. We saw the vision that ACA has and the values and goals which aligned with us, and we certainly think it's been a brilliant relationship - it’s been a privilege to be involved.”
David speaks on behalf of Riverina with regard to the value we place upon relationships such as the one with the ACA. A lot of hard work goes into organising and running local campdrafts, and Riverina is proud to be a part of the support team for these community events. We look forward to a continuing, mutually beneficial partnership with the ACA and its membership throughout Australia.
For further information, call (07) 4691 4500 to talk to the friendly administration team at the Riverina Oakey office.
Riverina Stockfeeds was established in 1927 in the Riverina District of NSW and has been manufacturing and providing Australia and international countries with high-quality dry stock feeds, dog food and liquid feeds.