What do you do when your key staff are stranded overseas and peak season is fast approaching?

COVID-19 has shut down international travel. For Sam Monk, one of the largest silage contractors in the country, that meant four of his machinery operators were stuck in New Zealand.

With just a fortnight before those workers were required in Australia for corn planting, Mr Monk went to the extraordinary length of chartering a plane to pick up his workers.

‘We’d promised them a job’

Mr Monk said the charter plane landed in Sydney on Friday. His employees are completing two weeks of quarantine before getting to work.

“We had to get a jet out of Sydney to go and get them; it was our only option because there are no flights out of New Zealand at the moment,” he said.

Man standing in front of a charter jet

Carl Gibberd was one of four workers who came to Australia from New Zealand on the chartered jet.(

Supplied: Carl Gibberd

)

“They’re quite important to our business; they operate our corn planters and strip tills, starting in two weeks, so we needed to get them here.”

Mr Monk said despite the $44,000 bill for the plane, there was a mutual obligation to ensure the workers could get to Australia.

“It’s COVID; it’s a strange time for everyone, we just had to get them here.”

From humble beginnings

Despite the enormous scale of his operations, Sam Monk is only 28.

He started Monk and Son Ag Services 12 years ago as a 16-year-old, with one tractor and a round baler.

Now, the father-of-three operates more than 50 tractors, seven forage harvesters, balers, loaders, cultivators, seeders, spreaders, sprayers, excavators and trucks.

Forage harvesters

Mr Monk expects to chop up to 300,000 tonnes of silage this spring. (

Supplied: Sam Monk

)

He also owns an 1100-acre dairy farm and leases 1140 acres of cropping country.

Despite the heavy workload, Mr Monk said he was driven to expand his operations.

“We’re very, very lucky, it’s not just me, we have excellent office staff and excellent staff managers.”

Scores of workers from across the globe

To operate his enormous fleet of machinery, Mr Monk will employ 86 workers this spring.

“I don’t like to call them backpackers; they’re skilled staff. We’ve got probably 25 Irish guys on at the moment and the rest are French, American and obviously our Australian and New Zealand staff,” he said.

“We’re running seven harvesters this season so we have seven teams going. We only ever ran five last year, but just with demand, we needed a couple of extras.”

Forage harvester chopping corn

Favourable irrigation prices mean more corn will be planted. (

Supplied: Sam Monk

)

Currently working in southern New South Wales and northern Victoria, Mr Monk will work south towards his base at Cobrico, south-west Victoria.

“And we’re shaping up for a massive summer program, with a lot of new clients, with the water price where it’s at, people will definitely stock up and prepare for a drought I assume.”

Posted , updated 

This employer chartered a jet for $44,000 to get his workers home from New Zealand
Source:
Source 1

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here