Fast growing farm services outfit, Delta Agribusiness, is tapping the extensive, business and crop chemical sector experience of former Nufarm boss, Doug Rathbone, appointing him to its board of directors.
He has also bought a stake in the business.
Mr Rathbone, who led Nufarm’s global growth from its original base in Australia and New Zealand, was a major shareholder and managing director of the chemical and seed company for 15 years.
He joins another high profile agribusiness boss and Delta chairman, Nick Burton Taylor, as an independent director of the staff-owned Delta, which boasts revenue exceeding $200 million a year.
Delta Agribusiness is making no secret of the fact, Doug Rathbone’s business development experience and connections will be a significant advantage as it plans for a wave of expansion outside NSW, and greater shareholder liquidity.
Delta, which now has 28 branch sites and about 230 employees, has just merged with northern NSW border region business WMG Agriservices which has a footprint into southern Queensland.
His industry experience in strategy, mergers and acquisitions, and capital structures, will bolster and complement our board
WMG was itself formed just four years ago in a merger between Macintyre Rural in Goondiwindi, North Western Rural in Wee Waa and later, Moree Independent Rural.
Delta Agribusiness has evolved from an initial base at GrainCorp AgPlus crop supplies sites at Young and Harden in 2006.
It now has a broad retail portfolio spanning fertiliser, animal health products and chemicals through to pet food and petroleum, plus livestock and rural property divisions.
Its subsidiary ag tech company, Discovery Ag, last month appointed former Grain Growers boss, Alicia Garden, as chief executive officer.
Discovery Ag provides innovative services such as precision area grain contracts and an internet-linked crop sensor network.
Since Delta’s formation in the toughest days of last decade's eastern Australian drought, it has achieved average compound growth of more than 30 per cent a year.
The business was started by former Landmark staff from Young, Cootamundra and Harden, backed by an initial 20pc capital base from GrainCorp.
Mr Rathbone, who departed Nufarm in 2015, retains family vineyard investments in Victoria and ties with emerging Australian and offshore companies including directorships at medical cannabis and biological chemical companies, Cann Group and Leaf Resources, and an advisory role with natural pesticides developer, Bio-gene Technologies.
Managing director and founding partner, Gerard Hines said Mr Rathbone’s vast experience, industry knowledge and global contacts would help guide Delta’s further expansion.
“He brings a fresh set of eyes and new ideas at a defining stage of our evolution,” Mr Hines said.
“His industry experience in strategy, mergers and acquisitions, and capital structures, will bolster and complement our board and long-term management team.”
He said strong farm commodity prices and productivity growth opportunities from new technologies had highlighted numerous opportunities for Delta to “expand our footprint far wider than NSW, and continue to increase our earnings diversity”.
Mr Rathbone described the young farm services firm as an impressive company with an excellent track record and uniquely positioned in the market, particularly with its ability to innovate.
“I’m excited by the opportunities in front of us to take the business to the next level.”
Chairman, Mr Burton Taylor said Mr Rathbone’s proven industry leadership would help guide Delta Agribusines through its next challenging phase.
“He has demonstrated his ability to create exceptional value for all stakeholders on a domestic and global scale,” he said.
“We are thrilled Doug accepted this position and very much look forward to navigating exciting future opportunities.”