Board environment sees total turnaround

21 Jan, 2016 01:00 AM
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6
 

TREVOR Badger has spent the past nine years driving CBH towards unity, professionalism and strength and isn't about to rest on his laurels.

The CBH District 4 incumbent believes his hardest work is ahead of him as he nominates for a fourth term.

He said his previous three terms were the work of a board redirecting itself and this was "monumental".

"The boardroom and the business is focused on the grower and it's a totally different environment to what it was 12 months ago in that boardroom, so I'm quite proud of the fact that we've managed to turn it around," he said.

"I thought the fight would be the hard bit but in actual fact performing on the growers' behalf is turning out to be the hard part.

"Obviously with competition and the amount of members falling away all the time we're really having to work very hard and I'm relishing it but it's very hard work as well.

"CBH has to perform for the growers."

The Pingrup grower is standing against two growers in his bid for a fourth term on the board: Bill Bailey, Jerramungup, and Roger House, Kojonup.

He is chairman of Blue Lake Milling, CBH's 2015 oat facility investment in South Australia and Victoria, and chair of the board's investment committee.

Mr Badger said he was interested in CBH's investment plans prior to joining the board and believes there are ways to capitalise on the Interflour success.

He said CBH's 50 per cent share could be partially sold off to provide funding for new ventures or spent on infrastructure in WA.

"The Interflour investment, we've grown that so rapidly and the profits haven't been that great," Mr Badger said.

"If you look at it from a profit point of view you'd say it's not a good investment but if you look from a capital growth asset value point of view it's an average business that is performing Okay.

"We've been through the two global financial crises and an Asian meltdown and it's still alive.

"We're a bunch of Aussie farmers running half of it and I'm pretty proud of it.

"But I'm not talking it up that it's the world's greatest business, it's got to transform."

Mr Badger said the end goal of investments was to bring the growers the benefit and this would assist CBH in weathering the competition storm.

"We need enough of these businesses to make enough of a profit to subsidise the storage and handling costs to the growers," he said.

"The growers haven't put cash into those investments, they've been debt funded, but the growers have carried the risk.

"We've used the balance sheet and we've used it wisely and we will use it again as well.

"For us to start subsidising storage and handling costs that's something the growers are getting for free.

"We're not there yet, but we've got an investment rebate but a dollar in a $29 cost for me is not enough.

"We need an investment rebate that is $10, $12 or $14 and then a grower will say they can't go with anyone else but CBH because I'm getting a big discount."

Mr Badger believes the biggest challenge for CBH's immediate future was to address the network and its efficiency.

He said this year it had become clear to the board that members were best placed to help make these decisions and feedback gained from pre-harvest meetings was proving invaluable.

"Instead of looking at five years of change, we're doing one year of changes and we're responding to what the growers want," Mr Badger said.

"Most of the growers just want to know what is going to happen to the system.

"We thought by showing a five-year plan they would be happy with that, but they want to know how it will affect them as an individual as well as an overall."

He said 2015 was a tough year for the network, with some areas having smaller crops than expected and sites being closed as a result.

This affected growers' plans and CBH needed to better plan a strategy for opening and closing sites so that everyone is aware of what is available.

"That was an experimental network strategy and we're listening to those growers about the affect that it had on them," he said.

"Those growers have been hurt a bit this year but they're getting prepared for this year and the year after.

"I'm bringing to the business a way for growers to transition into a new network, it's well and good to have grand plans but if you get the network wrong it'll be the end of the business.

"Once the growers walk you will never get them back."

Mr Badger said his fight for growers over the years had brought about financial transparency to the level expected of an Australian Stock Exchange company.

"I don't blame people for criticising CBH because really it's only the past 12 months that the focus has turned back on the grower," he said.

"There's a lot of stuff happening in the board room that the growers haven't yet seen.

"There's a number of things put in place in the past 12 months that will have an affect over the following decade.

"There are things there that to change you would need the numbers in the boardroom, and that doesn't happen overnight.

"You would have to mount a very good argument as to why you would change that strategy.

"The work we've done in the past 12 months is not set in stone but is laying a path to the future."

He said these measures would last for the next 10 years and while CBH would evolve to a different structure over time, he believes it will remain a co-operative.

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Rachael Oxborrow

Rachael Oxborrow

is grains writer for Farm Weekly
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READER COMMENTS

central wheatbelt
21/01/2016 1:07:50 PM, on Farm Weekly

Ah Trevor you must be hearing the foot steps of the growers wanting equity out of CBH. You can't dress a Coop into a corporate entity, good coop's member base increases CBH is dwindling. I think you have been a sleep at the wheel for the last 9 years, time for change.
Consolidated
22/01/2016 2:51:22 PM, on Farm Weekly

This infuriates me! '"If you look at it from a profit point of view you'd say it's not a good investment but if you look from a capital growth asset value point of view it's an average business that is performing Okay.' These bunch of incompetants think it is ok to continue slugging us at the bins so they can invest in foreign infrastructure that doesn't generate cash but does yield capital appreciation ... maybe. How does that do anything but further increase costs? Growers have to wake up. They are getting fleeced of their hard earned to fund bad investments. Asia is turning toxic.
Optimizer
25/01/2016 3:32:07 PM, on Farm Weekly

So the 5 year plan, is now a 1 year plan which will discuss the possibility of a 5 year plan??
x
31/01/2016 8:27:29 PM, on Farm Weekly

By any measure , including a study by the AICD ,9 years as a Director probably exceeds one,s ability to add value to a Board. It's disappointing to see a long term incumbent,s renominate - I,m not sure if they has any more to offer . Its time for new blood and hopefully voters will review all candidates on their merit
free trader
1/02/2016 10:13:05 AM, on Farm Weekly

Times have changed. What mattered 20 years ago probably is not in the first 5 worries now. CBH did well then but now? Poor investments, bad trading decisions, losses in marketing. Perhaps grower should focus on growing and let the market develop competing supply chains just like what's happening in the east. A co-operative that's sunning pools, trading and running a monopoly supply chain means the growers bears all the risk. Time to share the risk!
Hyden
10/02/2016 6:38:25 AM, on Farm Weekly

For its very few faults, CBH still has the support of about 90%+ shareholders/growers. The rest are selfish farmer/traders who have no idea how tiny they really are in the international scene and how the big boys would just love CBH to be wound up so they could eat you alive.

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