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Phillip Roth CA Helping Grow a Whānau-Oriented Sustainable Fishing Business
Three decades of dedication to sustainable, ethical fishing has earned Lyttleton-based fishing company Okains Bay Longline Fishing Company an international reputation for excellence.
By partnering with chartered accountants, founder Greg Summerton has been able to bring a professional edge and credibility to his whānau-oriented business.
Summerton and his family are Ngāi Tahu, their ancestors can be traced to the ocean voyagers who sailed waka to Aotearoa in the 14th century. As such, he is deeply committed to the sea, land and people of our country; sustainability is part of his DNA.
The fishing methods used by Okains Bay Longline Fishing Company are industry leading and enable harvesting to occur in the most sustainable and ethical way possible. As a company, they are celebrated for their sustainable business practices, and have a robust client base.
Fishing is a highly regulated and fickle industry and the family-owned business was also impacted by the Covid-19 lockdown. In particular they had to act quickly to deal with export issues and managing business as usual processes such as crew management and wellbeing throughout the various alert levels.
Summerton has partnered with Phillip Roth, a Chartered Accountant and partner at BDO Christchurch who has helped to bring a professional edge and focus to his whānau-oriented business.
Summerton met Roth at a conference facilitated by him about ten years ago and was immediately impressed with his integrity and understanding of his business vision.
Roth was subsequently brought on board as an advisor, and then a company director. Summerton says that Roth's input has been invaluable.
"Having Phillip as director really has brought more professionalism to Okains Bay. He's a trusted sounding board; I have full confidence in him. He's helped out several of our employees with really useful advice and he's become a trusted advisor to the family."
When Okains was searching for a ship that could operate sustainably, they turned their attention to the fishing industry in Norway. The boat they procured, the Kawatea, was built there. Running on a blend of biodiesel, it reduces CO2 emissions by 50 per cent.
Roth, whilst visiting Scandinavia in 2019 also took time out to visit the north-western coast of Norway to understand more fully how the local shipping and fishing industry worked and to bring back these learnings back for Okains.
"I went to try to understand what makes them tick, and I was blown out of the water," says Roth. "When they commit to something, they do it 100 per cent; they are highly professional; and think generationally."
The Norwegian fact-finding mission helped him understand more fully the nature of successful family-based fishing industry companies.
It also fed into another part of Roth's role at Okains: providing oversight around governance and succession planning.
As the business is firmly rooted in whānau, Summerton's younger family members will eventually take the reins. This process is already underway.
Roth and his team have also supported Greg in driving another significant project: the ecological restoration of a large farm in the Kaikoura region.
"Greg purchased the property with the intention of offsetting carbon emissions and seeking to develop an alternative model for utilising marginal land," says Roth. "Part of the land will be used for planting Mānuka and other indigenous plants."
Summerton and Roth have jointly led the process: coordinating key players, understanding the return on investment and nutting out the financial imperatives for making the project viable. He's also gone with Summerton to meet local interest groups, council, Te Puni Kōkiri and local rūnanga, and get written support for the project.
"We have been working with Oha Honey [New Zealand's largest 100 per cent owned Māori Mānuka honey company], emissions trading consultants and potential nursery plant providers and advisors to make the project happen," says Roth.
Partnering with a Chartered Accountant has proved very successful for this local, sustainable, whānau-based business.
Roth and his team, including Steve Papps ACA from BDO (who has "brought a different skill set, liaising with financiers, helping with loans, and future planning," says Summerton) have been able to provide stability and guidance to the company.
And with their support, Summerton has been able to ensure Okains Bay is grounded in best-practice when it comes to the demands of changing industry standards, extending the customer base, and moving his company further along in its drive for sustainability.
Originally published by Stuff limited
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