Profile: NDP Contract Fencing

NDP Contract Fencing is a well-established business in Hawke’s Bay with an excellent reputation for doing a top-quality job

John Deere tractors with rammers and forklift attachments for carrying bundles of posts

If a well-built fence catches your eye, the chances are NDP Contract Fencing built it. They’re a well-established agricultural and horticultural fencing business in Hawke’s Bay with an excellent reputation for doing a top-quality job.

Nigel Parkinson came from a farming background and was poised to become a farmer like his father when everything changed.

Orchards like this one are intensely planted and posted

“I was doing my agricultural and business course through EIT and was planning on taking over the family farm when my parents decided to sell the farm. So I changed careers and gained my Diploma in Horticulture. After a few years working in the industry, my wife, Deidre, and I travelled with our three-year and one-month-old sons to Kerikeri where I managed some large, corporate horticultural blocks up there for a few years.”

That was a good decision, as it turned out, for, alongside horticulture, he kept his fencing business ticking along. Later, the horticulture skills Nigel had built up would complement his fencing business.

In the late 1990s, Nigel returned to Hawke’s Bay and got stuck into fencing full time. In 2002, he and his wife Deidre set up NDP Contract Fencing. Having those extra skills up his sleeve meant Nigel could offer multiple services.

“Because I knew the horticulture business well, it made it easy to transition from farm fencing into orchard development. I had a lot of industry contacts, which meant people knew me, so by 2010, we were cranking along.” Nigel adds though that having work spread across multiple land uses means there’s no downtime.

Orchard development has been huge in Hawke’s Bay in the last 10–15 years

“The farmers require you from summer through to winter, and then they go quiet with lambing and calving, so they don’t want people on their farms. That brings us to June–July when the orchardists are starting to plant trees, so we transition out of farming and into orchard development; then June to February or March the following year is also flat-out. We’ve noticed in the last two years, there’s no downtime. Work is no longer seasonal, and because we also work on dairy farms, we’re full-on; there’s a huge amount of dairy farm development here, so that takes up much of winter.”

NDP’s versatility has meant the business has grown three-fold in the last four years.

“You can’t run a business successfully with ups and downs; you need consistency.”

More machinery

As NDP’s business has grown and other factors have come into play, such as changing horticultural practices, so does the need to buy additional machinery.

Nigel recently bought two new Yanmar excavators with vibrating heads for farm work and orchard development. The vibrating heads are a new addition.

A well-secured poultry shed and run

“In the good ground, they are faster and more efficient than the tractors. Orchards are often planted in shingle and sand where vibrating heads don’t do well; that’s where tractor rammers do a fantastic job,” Nigel says.

“We’ve had to buy more adaptive machinery because of labour shortages, and with less ground staff for putting in posts, excavators can get lots done – picking up or banging in the posts. We also have four John Deere tractors and a SAME Rubin with tractor rammers for drilling and ramming.”

The increase in the use of machines seems to be one of the most significant changes in the fencing and horticulture industry, and Nigel agrees.

“If you look at horticulture, they are now using picking and pruning platforms and are finding more efficient ways of getting through work and hectarage. While the industry has been expanding massively for the last 10 to 15 years, the biggest issue is labour: getting picking, pruning, and planting staff is hard.”

Farm fencing and orchard development underway

Machinery use has increased for other reasons, too.

“Because posts in orchards are getting bigger, taller, and heavier, we’ve had to use more machinery to ease the load from staff. It lessens any back injuries they might get from lifting. We still use staff for lifting intermediate-size posts and for lighter work. On the farms, machines are more efficient and time-saving for lifting and drilling holes and posts. Again, it’s easier on the staff to not have to do the heavy manual labour. The farmers have a set price, and you can get through work quicker and more efficiently with machines.”

New systems of growing fruit trees make for the increased complexity of structures in orchards. The change from spindle to the 2D method of growing trees means the orchards are more intensely planted and posted.

“It requires much more work to install those systems,” says Nigel.

The NDP fencing team

While to be a successful fencer, Nigel says you must be physically fit, as it’s a demanding job, he adds that you have to enjoy what you do.

Excavator with angle tilted post rammer

“You must have a passion for it. I set a high-quality standard on which I don’t renege. My policy is that it must be done right. That’s how we get consistent return work through all our clients. I don’t think I’ve had to pick up the phone and look for work in the last 10 years. We’re booked out for the near future in the horticultural development sector and generally, we’re booked in advance every year.”

Looking at NDP’s Facebook page, it seems he has a dedicated team of workers who can also have fun when it’s time to down tools. Nigel employs 11 to 16 full-time staff and up to 25 casuals over the horticultural development season.

“I do a lot of training and upskilling. We train our staff to operate the machines; it’s another skill they collect as part of the trade. The more skills they have, the better off they are. I don’t have anyone on the team who’s there only to collect a wage. All my workers are passionate about their work, making for a great team.”

When learning the ropes of fencing, Nigel starts his employees in the orchard, running wires, stapling, and using pneumatic guns. He also gives them full training on the quad bikes, wire Jenny trailers, crimping tools, and wire cutters.

NDP has an excellent reputation for the quality of their workmanship

“The guys who show promise throughout the orchard season are hand-picked to go on to the farming season. If we have gaps, they progress from a fixed seasonal contract to full-time permanent contracts.”

NDP’s yard is in Puketapu, near Napier. Every day, the crew turns up at 6.30am, has a toolbox meeting, finds out where they’re going and the job detail, and is out the gate before 7am. The teams (usually six to seven) will head out to various locations, sometimes as far north as Wairoa or Gisborne and south towards Palmerston North. Often, they’ll work around Hawke’s Bay.

Tag team

Nigel says he couldn’t do without his wife Deidre’s support and hard work. He speaks highly of her role in NDP. He says it’s full-on, keeping everything going with NDP Fencing Contracts.

“We’re probably one of the larger fencing businesses in Hawke’s Bay. The bookwork, quoting, and invoicing is enormous. Deidre oversees the administration and looks after clients and staff, too. When she’s not doing this, she’s out and about towing fuel tankers, refuelling, picking up parts, liaising with clients, or helping support the teams.” Deidre hasn’t always worked in the business. She used to work for a law firm, but as NDP got busier, she joined them. Nigel used to be run off his feet and was up until all hours trying to do jobs, and since Deidre has taken charge of administration, it’s made a big difference.

Security fencing at Tumu yards

“I’d be lost without her. She’s absolutely amazing,” he says.

Nigel says he tries to get around two to three of his teams daily.

“During orchard development season, we have seven to eight teams on the go, so I will be out liaising with clients, quoting, ordering materials, talking to suppliers to get materials on-site, and ensuring everything is signed off or ready to go. Then, once an assignment is finished, the next job is ready for them to roll straight into. I’ve always got new clients chasing me up, and now Deidre is on-board so that I can spend more time with the fencing teams. That also means I can get back in the machines and on the tools alongside everyone else.”

A supportive national body

Nigel says he enjoys being a registered member of the Fencing Contracting Association (FCNZ) for the available support and information.

“Most of us in the fencing industry are members of FCNZ; it’s good to have that connection with other fencing contractors. The annual conference is also a good chance to gather together.”

All the materials laid out ready to go

One example of their support is having ready access to information on staff contracts. Being able to phone for any advice, legal or otherwise, is another.

Nigel also enjoys the FCNZ magazine, Wired.

“It’s a great read with plenty of information. You get to see what your peers have been doing. You also get discounts through different businesses if you’re a member. In general, they are an excellent association.”

NDP Contract Fencing offers the following services

  • Farm, orchard and vineyard fencing
  • Orchard and vineyard development
  • Orchard consultancy
  • Equine fencing
  • Post and rail
  • Hot wire fencing
  • Deer fencing and entranceways
  • Commercial fencing
  • Retaining walls

Find new and used farm machinery for sale in NZ 

Photography: Supplied

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