Well 2020 was quite the year wasn’t it? You, like me, will be thinking where did it go and what the heck happened? Here we are at the end of 2020 living a relatively normal life in NZ due to the timely and decisive action taken by the government and with the support of the team of five million. Whilst we have been fortunate at Lincoln Agritech to have experienced minimal impacts on our day to day business from COVID-19, there are some sectors of the economy that are really struggling and I want to acknowledge them.
So what did it all mean for Lincoln Agritech? We saw the threat of COVID-19 early and prepared in advance to work remotely. As my IT Manager, Phil Dewar said to me, “It’s one thing to have our remote working plan prepared in advance, it was another thing to implement it in 48 hours”. Full credit to our IT team because our systems worked well and we were able to carry on working remotely. I am so proud of the way our staff reacted, how they thought ahead, set up offices and workshops in their homes and garages, and how resilient they have been. Yes, we lost some fieldwork and data due to the lockdown and there will be delays in completing some seasonal work, but in general we have been able to carry on with 90% of our business.
Some of our business units with international expansion opportunities - IRRICAD™, HydroMetrics™ and CertusBio - have had to alter their international strategies as we try to continue to do business without travel.
Around 50% of our staff were not born in New Zealand – we seek to hire the best people in the world. With New Zealand’s borders closed it has been a challenge to recruit and get people here. Some of our staff have been separated from their families for 10 months due to the timing of their arrival in NZ ahead of their families.
I would like to thank the management team who met weekly to navigate our way through each lockdown level and what it meant to the company, what systems we needed to put in place to keep everyone safe, and what decisions we needed to make to keep the business operating and to support staff. One of our key strategies was to give staff full transparency of what lockdown meant for the company. We shared figures on our bank balances, what we needed to earn, what costs we needed to cut, and how productivity was progressing throughout the lockdown period. Armed with this information our staff made responsible decisions about where and how they applied their efforts. This has resulted in us achieving much of what we wanted to in 2020, and most importantly, getting through without a significant drop in productivity.
I would like to thank the staff who have done an exceptional job of carrying on in what has been a tough year on everyone. I would like to thank the board for their guidance during the year and the lockdown, and finally but not least I would like to thank you, our clients and stakeholders, for continuing to support Lincoln Agritech in what I am sure has been a difficult year for you also. We look forward to serving your research needs in 2021 and beyond.
I am always excited about the research and development we do and the commercial opportunities we have in front of us. Lincoln Agritech continues to grow and currently has around 63 FTE, all of whom contribute to making a significant difference to improving the productivity and environmental outcomes for our food, fibre and environmental sectors.
I wish you all a safe and relaxing Christmas holiday. Hope you get to enjoy the time to connect with your families, if you are not separated by closed borders.
Finally let's all be thankful for the scientists in this world who have helped us all to respond to the pandemic, and who have developed the vaccines that will give our planet a chance of returning to some sort of normal life in the near future.
CEO at Lincoln Agritech Limited