On the back of a highly successful inaugural year, AIRR has launched its “Young Guns” program for 2014.
General manager of marketing Kane Law said the two-part program offers the opportunity to network with peers, suppliers and customers, while learning about the many facets of running a successful rural business. It’s open to every staff member, aged 35 and under, across AIRR’s national member network of more than 230 independent rural stores.
“Firstly, applicants detail their current employment, what they love about the industry and where they would like to see themselves down the track. We are looking for enthusiastic participants who not only know their strengths, but have a thirst to learn and then implement that at store level,” Mr Law said.
“The top 10 are then chosen by a panel and flown to Sydney to undergo training in sales and marketing, the importance of R&D, advertising, financial management and leadership — hence fostering the Young Gun participants’ passion for all things rural, coupled with tailored business knowledge.”
Industry-leading suppliers will join the top 10 finalists to focus on these modules.
Mr Law said the calibre of this year’s sponsors shows the high regard in which AIRR, its members and the Young Guns program is held.
“To the major sponsors — Dow Agrosciences and Gallagher — and supporting sponsors — Waratah, Novartis and Lubrimaxx — we thank you for taking part of in the 2014 program and for sharing our focus on finding the best talent in our network of 230-plus stores.
“We have no doubt that many great relationships between the ‘Guns’ and these industry-leading suppliers will be built and flourish. Special mention must be made to Dow Agrosciences who were also a key part of the inaugural 2013 AIRR Young Guns program.”
Finalists then use their workshop learnings in store-development initiatives, farmer nights, marketing campaigns and any other way they choose. The involvement of participating sponsors and their products forms a key part of this stage in 2014.
“Independent stores and groups aren’t flush with the resources of their corporate counterparts, and while this is great for profitability and cost control, on the flip side, it means stores are flat-out selling all day every day, and rarely get time to take stock and look at all elements of their stores. By integrating their ‘Young Guns’ into that next level of the business, they are investing in that person’s future and the future of their business.”
AIRR MD and CEO Peter Law said, “This program is one of the greatest initiatives to hit the rural industry for many years.
“It shows AIRR’s commitment to recognising industry talents, ensuring they get the training needed to help them operate and grow in this magnificent industry. The top 10 candidates who made the finals of the 2013 AIRR Young Guns program were absolutely outstanding, and a great example of why we are enjoying this great era of the independent store. AIRR and the participating suppliers are extremely excited about what the 2014 program holds for us.”
A 2013 top-five finalist, Peter Ham from Victoria’s Hamilton Produce, said, “Being involved in the AIRR Young Guns program has given me the skills and confidence to take on a much bigger leadership role within our business.”
The top five finalists will be flown to the Gold Coast for AIRR’s national member conference and awards night in March 2014, where the winner will be announced.
For more information, call Kane Law or Elaine Canny on (03) 9696 8593.
AIRR (Australian Independent Rural Retailers)
AIRR is a wholesale member-based buying group for independent rural retailers. It was founded by Peter Law on 1 January, 2006.
AIRR — which stands for Australian Independent Rural Retailers — now has some 144 members (operating 250 stores) nationwide. This is up from 130 members in 2011, and numbers continue to grow. AIRR services businesses across Australia in a host of enterprise types, including broadacre cropping, livestock and horticulture. Innovating into new markets is part of its charter. AIRR launched its pet & produce brand, Tucker’s Pet & Produce, in 2012.
AIRR uniquely wholesales in the farm-supply market — a strategy that has underpinned its success. A large percentage of its members’ business goes through AIRR warehouses.
In October 2011, the group opened its seventh warehouse in Melbourne (Derrimut). Other warehouses are in Port Adelaide, Brisbane (Darra), Wagga Wagga, Tamworth, Perth (Kewdale) and Shepparton — also the home of its headquarters. AIRR has plans for an eighth warehouse in Sydney.
The group has also grown financially. In 2011, AIRR had a 26% growth increase from $198 million to $250m. it has grown at these high rates since it was founded. Increasing turnover is due to both higher member numbers and individual store growth. Better buying has given members improved POS margins, and AIRR has increased SKUs to help members with a more diverse range.
In 2012, AIRR was listed in the BRW Fast 100, with the second-highest sales volume for the 2009-10 financial year out of the top 100 (the first was a superannuation provider). The judging criterion was revenue growth; in the three years to June 30, 2010, AIRR had an average annual revenue growth of 45.03%.
Kane Law, Marketing Manager, AIRR
P: 03 9696 8593