South Australian agricultural innovator Rob Damin has been named a Regional Finalist in the 2018 EY Entrepreneur of the Year awards.
Rob was recognised for guiding his company – Pasture Genetics – from a small three-person operation into the largest fully independent and Australian owned forage seed company in just two decades.
Pasture Genetics develops and distributes seeds that are optimised for disease resistance and production qualities, like good yield and feed conversion rates that help livestock producers get the best results from their fodder.
The company grew out of a shift in the Australian seed industry in the late 90s, with the advent of plant breeder’s rights (PBR) – new laws that allowed the private sector to breed seed varieties for the first time.
Pasture Genetics now exports premium pasture seed to more than 30 countries across North America, South America, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, and has more than 32 full-time staff, produces 10,000 tonnes of premium seed per year, and runs a world-class 18-hectare research and development facility.
Rob said guiding the business through such rapid growth wasn’t always easy, and required sound decision making, as well as staying connected to the users of the company’s product.
“I learned pretty early on that you have to constantly re-invest if you want to grow, but that can be scary,” Rob said.
“Our greatest challenge was not growing, but controlling our growth. We’ve been careful and we’ve made good decisions.”
Some of those good decisions included an upgraded warehouse and office facility in Adelaide and the development of their research centre.
Pasture Genetics has developed more than 10 new seed products since its launch, and now has a major partnership with big-name international crop chemical company Bayer.
“We strive to produce the finest quality, technologically driven, modern forage seed products that surpass industry standards and reflect the highest degree of excellence in agriculture – creating prosperity and opportunity to providers and producers globally,” Rob said.
“By staying close to our growers and our customers, we’re able to recognise challenges and get to market quickly with solutions. Multinationals don’t have the ability to recognise and respond to changing conditions so quickly.”
Pasture Genetics is a family business, with Rob (General Manager) and Ann (Managing Director) at the helm, and son Tom (Research and Technical Services Manager), and daughter Lucy (Brand Manager) heading up their business units.
Rob will join his fellow Central Region finalists at the regional award ceremony on August 30 in Adelaide where the Regional National Finalists will be announced.
EY Entrepreneur of the Year is the world’s most prestigious business award for entrepreneurs. The programme makes a difference through the way it encourages entrepreneurial activity among those with potential, and recognises the contribution of people who inspire others with their vision, leadership, and achievement. As the first and only truly global award of its kind, Entrepreneur of the Year celebrates those who are building and leading successful, growing, and dynamic businesses, recognising them through regional, national, and global awards programmes in more than 145 cities in over 60 countries.
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Image: Pasture Genetics General Manager Rob Damin at Penfield Research Station.