It’s only been two years since Josh Buckman took the reins of the well- known Hawke’s Bay deer velvet company Gevir but already he is charging ahead, exporting the product to new markets with a unique proposition for natural health seekers.
Gevir is now exporting to China and the United States with plans to be in six other countries by the end of the year.
“We have a loyal following in New Zealand but the growth potential is in exporting our story and quality products. There is a much bigger customer base abroad and a huge opportunity to tell a unique story.
“It takes a lot of work and money to get into these markets but our long-term goal is a bigger business that adds value to deer farmers and the velvet industry.
“Deer velvet is one of the only renewable sources of all nine essential amino acids the body needs to grow and repair; it is made up of glucosamine, collagen, Omega 3 and Omega 6, minerals, nutrients and lipids, to name a few. It’s an adaptogen, increasing the body’s ability to withstand stress and ward off exhaustion. The more we can educate our customers about the benefits of our diverse and natural supplement, the better.”
Josh and the Gevir team have started exporting their premium supplements to retail markets in China and the United States and plan to be in Canada, Japan and South Korea by the end of the year.
Gevir has been making the deer velvet supplements for nearly 30 years, with premium deer antler velvet being the only ingredient.
Josh bought the business two years ago from Shelley and Clint Thomson, who founded the business and had owned Gevir for 26 years.
Since then, not only has he entered the export market but he has also diversified the product range, with a soon-to-be launched natural skincare range, and he has also introduced a pet range.
“I have been overwhelmed by the number of Kiwi farmers who have purchased the pet product for their working dogs. We knew the Gevir pet product would be an attractive option for pet dogs, especially older dogs, but we didn’t expect the product to be so popular for working dogs.”
Hawke’s Bay farmer Mike Ritsson-Thomas has a 13-year-old heading dog called Thai who tore her Achilles. After the vet tried
several different treatments, none of which worked, Mike decided to start feeding her his Gevir deer velvet tablets.
“It was like a miracle, suddenly Thai just came right and she no longer had a busted Achilles. She was back out on the farm with me mustering and easily jumping on and off the bike. It was unbelievable how the deer velvet gave her a new lease of life.”
And Thai wasn’t the only ‘miracle’ deer velvet case for the Tikokino sheep and beef farmer. His wife Caroline has a 12-year-old Aussie Terrier called Fergie who started going bald.
“She was so bald that her tail poked out like a finger. So, I fed her Gevir deer velvet tablets every day and within a few months she had a thick coat again, she was much more sprightly and back running around the farm.”
Mike is a firm believer in the natural product and has been taking the Gevir deer velvet tablets for over 10 years.
“As a farmer you get a lot of bashes and bruises. I find the deer velvet helps me heal quickly and I don’t have the aches I had before.”
His wife Caroline used to have arthritis in her knee but after taking Gevir for three months, the pain has stopped.
“If I stop taking the deer velvet tablets I get aches and pains, so there is a noticeable difference.”
Josh first came across deer velvet following multiple shoulder injuries and three reconstruction surgeries, which left him in constant discomfort with numbness and pins and needles.
“I first discovered deer velvet following several dislocations and surgery from playing rugby. I had seen Gevir for years at rural retailers and remember the old tv ads and gave it a go after my third shoulder reconstruction. When using Gevir following surgery I made an exceptionally speedy recovery, particularly with the reduction in pain and numbness, and was back to work in four weeks. So I am very passionate about the product and believe there is huge potential to educate people on the long-term benefits and improved quality of life with Gevir.”
Josh was working in a diverse sales and project role with FMG and was also managing his finishing farm near Havelock North when he heard the Thomsons were looking to pass the reins of Gevir on.
“My wife and I jumped at the opportunity with Gevir, we were attracted to the natural health and renewable element but also to the health benefits. It is sustainable, it grows every year and the deer don’t have to be killed to produce it. Deer velvet is the fastest growing mammal tissue with more than 300 active components. It is hard not to be excited about the diverse and unique supplement we produce with some of New Zealand’s best deer farmers.”
“We are really excited about sharing Gevir with the world and providing our passionate farmers with the added value they deserve.”