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Chat With the CEO | Adam Cuming of Radfords

Adam Cuming of Radfords

Adam Cuming has been the CEO of Radfords in Tauranga, New Zealand for two years. Radford’s has a noble mission: to grow the world’s food basket.

A high-achiever from way back (he was a bank manager by the ripe old age of 22), Adam has an ambitious global vision for this thriving hot-tech company, founded by Phil Radford in 1989. He was hired to help Radfords scale the business into global markets and expansion is already well underway. As the company grows, it will need a ready supply of tech talent here on the ground in Tauranga.

Radfords are seeking to connect with technology graduates and experienced professionals who are interested in becoming part of this globally expanding company in New Zealand’s fastest-growing city.  And if that isn’t enough of a draw-card, they fund weekly massages for their staff!

Interested in joining them?  Let’s have a chat with the CEO.

Adam, first things first. Coffee? 

A double shot trim flat white please, followed by an espresso chaser!

What is your favourite part of your workday? 

Walking from our carpark to the office every morning with the sun on my face, reflecting on the opportunities we have ahead of us.

Can you tell us your career story?

I worked for Westpac bank straight out of school. I learnt the art of lending money at National Australia Bank (NAB) and BNZ, becoming a bank manager by age 22. I then transitioned onto a global NAB project focused on using technology to re-engineer loans processing.

An early mid-life crisis at 28 leads to a two-year detour to university to finish a double major degree.  I spent two years as a cellar hand at Villa Maria Winery in Auckland before relocating to Japan where I taught English for two years.

I was repatriated to Hawkes Bay to take up an IT project management role at Heinz Wattie’s. 14 years later I finished at Kraft Heinz as CIO for Asia, Pacific, Middle East and Africa before moving to Tauranga, taking on the challenge at Radfords to help scale the business into global markets.

In a nutshell, what does Radfords do? 

We are as much as a technology company as we are a fresh produce company. In a nutshell, we enable our customers to grow the world’s food basket. 

We provide software solutions from orchards, through packhouse, warehousing, sales and order management, through to market for the fresh produce sector. Our clients grow apples, kiwifruit, cherries, tropicals, avocados, tomatoes, mushrooms and more. We enable them to efficiently connect their people, produce and machines to data and process to supply produce to market.

When you look to the future for Radfords what do you see?

Radfords is developing a global footprint.

The ongoing growth in global population and wealth, particularly in emerging markets, is forecasted to double global demand for fresh produce by 2050.  Scaling growth of global supply of fresh produce into these markets will be critical and that’s where Radfords comes in – to help scale supply of quality products to meet this burgeoning demand.

In addition to our core New Zealand market, our focus is on both the Australian and US markets where we continue to see huge potential.

  • We continue to expand in Australia, with two additional significant brands signing up with Radfords in 2020 to help transform their supply chain
  • We have signed our first US customer, a well-known brand that will go live with us later this year
  • We have a footprint in Italy, France, Japan and Korea that we will continue to build on. 

What tech talent will you need to fulfil this potential?   

As we grow our business, we will need to expand our business analysis, testing, development, data intelligence, and Dev Ops, teams.

We are looking for a certain mindset, not just a skill-set. We get really excited by people with drive and energy.  A willingness to embrace the world of fresh produce is also vital, as we live and breathe it.   

In recent months, we have been excited by how well new graduates have been able to grasp new concepts, demonstrate a willingness to learn and own what they do.  We also hire a sprinkling of experienced technology professionals who can add value to our technology, processes and mentor our young talent. 

What are your thoughts on hiring returning Kiwi expats?

Returning Kiwi expats have a very important element in their toolkit.  Kiwis by nature tend to be generalists as our market size dictates that we get opportunities to be a Jack or Jill of all trades, and therefore understand the end-to-end flow of a system.

When Kiwis work and live in different countries they get to apply this system way of thinking in a new culture. This cultural overlay with their systems skillset often results in individuals that contribute strongly in teams. It also adds to the collective knowledge bank when we enter new markets and interact with new cultures. 

What are your thoughts on hiring new immigrants to New Zealand?

We have hired a variety of new immigrants. We continue to be impressed by their contribution, ability to add immediate value and bring their cultural colour to Radford’s flag.  We focus on providing an encouraging open culture that ensures immigrants feel comfortable sharing their input and opinions.

Why do you think the agri-tech sector is growing in Tauranga?

The Tauranga agri-tech sector is growing because of the Bay of Plenty’s history as a horticultural powerhouse, coupled with being New Zealand’s fastest-growing region.  Alongside a vibrant local economy, Tauranga has many export-focused companies supported by port logistics and a location that connects easily to Auckland, Waikato and Rotorua.

Tauranga also has an abundance of natural treasures, climate, beaches, volcanoes and rivers, making for a great lifestyle destination.

How would you describe your company culture at Radfords?  

Radford’s culture is inclusive, we value our people’s input and ownership, we go the extra mile for our customers and we like achieving things that others may consider ambitious! We also like to have fun and celebrate success. 

As CEO, what do you care about?  

I care about our people owning what they do and understanding what role they play in our customers supplying quality products to consumers.  Once you care about what you do, you get passion, and once you get a passionate group of people together, the possibilities are enormous for individuals, teams and the company.

What local community involvement does Radfords have?

We care about supporting the next generation of talent.  We support local technology student endeavours. Radford’s also sponsoring Young Grower of the Year and various customer events that support community and grower endeavours.  We also host student delegations throughout the year. 

Many professionals move to Tauranga seeking a better work/life balance. What is the culture like at Radfords like around this?  

Some of our team start early and finish early, or start later and finish later.  Some people surf early in the morning, some mountain bike in the afternoon.  We encourage walking breaks, darts, sports picking competitions, fancy dress parties, quizzes and we fund weekly massages and free fruit.

What do you personally enjoy about Tauranga?

Tauranga is made up of various peninsula’s, coastlines, towns, surf-towns, rural towns, highlands and lowlands, all with their own sub-cultures. You can travel 20 mins in any direction and feel like you’re in a different part of the country. Since moving here I have noticed an increasing diversity of people and a broad-based economic boom.

What do you do to relax and have fun in Tauranga?

I love that I work in Tauranga central but my family and I live on a three-hectare lifestyle block just 15 minutes away. We have dogs, cats, chickens, goats, cattle and guinea pigs. We like mountain and trail biking, either locally or in Rotorua or Waihi / Paeroa. Recently, I’ve begun going to the gym regularly, which I balance with a passing interest in wine!


Ready for a Change?

Radfords is a key company in Tauranga’s growing agri-tech sector. LEARN MORE

Thinking of moving to Tauranga someday? 

Take the first steps now.

1. Like ‘Wish You Were Working Here’ us on Facebook 

2. Email us at info@priorityone.co.nz

3. Read Q&A interviews with recent Tauranga arrivals on our Kiwi expatimmigrant and local Kiwis blogs.

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