Keri Johnston and Haidee McCabe, principals of Irricon Resource Solutions, have gone from strength to strength since they established their joint consultancy in 2010. They now employ nine staff located from Motonau in North Canterbury to Duntroon in North Otago, with expertise ranging from ecology to engineering, and planning to field technicians.
A key feature of their business is Johnston and McCabe’s philosophy of fitting work around family and farming life, wherever that might be.
Keri Johnston, a natural resources engineer, says, “Where we are today was born out of a desire to have professional careers, but on our terms – working from home, around children and farming.” Keri and her husband farm just out of Geraldine in South Canterbury.
Haidee McCabe, an environmental consultant from Albury, explains. “Five of our consultants are women who would not be working professionally if they didn’t work for Irricon. Working from home means the best of all worlds for these women, and it allows them the opportunity to work, but be wives, mums and farm workers as well.
“Unless we’re in a hearing, we’re not a “suit and tie” type of business – our jeans and gumboots are well worn! Our clients really appreciate having someone turn up who knows farming. We can talk to them in their language about the issues.
“Because of the expertise we have, we can handle almost any job from start to finish – design, consenting, implementation and compliance. We have over 500 clients, and this number is still growing.”
The business focuses on improving or maintaining the sustainability of natural resources, such as land, water and waste, and is also involved in irrigation and catchment management.
Irricon Resource Solutions also won the Help! I Need Somebody category, sponsored by Access Homehealth Ltd.
Other category winners in this year’s Enterprising Rural Women Awards are Renee De Luca of Putaka Honey based out of Blenheim. Renee won the Love of the Land category, sponsored by Agrisea.
The Making it in Rural section sponsored by Spark was hotly contested, with the main award going to Nicola Wright of Wrights Winery and Vineyard in Gisborne, and a special merit award to Dot Kettle and Georgia Richards of Dove River Peonies from Wakefield, near Nelson.
The winner of the Stay, Play Rural Award, sponsored by Xero, was Bobbie Mulgrew of Easyhike, a car relocation service based at Glenorchy, servicing hikers of the Routeburn and Milford tracks.
In congratulating all the winners, Rural Women New Zealand national president, Wendy McGowan said, “Through the Enterprising Rural Women Awards we are keen to raise awareness of women’s entrepreneurship and their input into rural communities. Women are not always good at promoting themselves, but we want to raise their profiles and give them credit for the huge amount of effort involved.”
These awards are well deserved recognition for the winners.
In highlighting enterprising rural women and their businesses they also show the opportunities that can be grasped outside city boundaries.