OVID-19 might be the crisis that we will all remember 2020 for but locally, farmers will never forget the year due to one of our most severe droughts.
Water demand was at an all-time high as farmers in sun-parched rural areas tanked in our most precious natural resource.
Local businessman Shaun McPherson was forced to return to one of his old jobs, truck driving, while his commercial cleaning business Boulevard Services experienced a downturn due to offices and retail stores being forced shut for many weeks.
While driving a truck, Shaun had plenty of time to think about business opportunities that could come from COVID-19.
As he drove across the Hawke’s Bay hinterland that was bearing the brunt of the drought, he plotted his new business idea – getting water faster to those that live in remote areas such as farms and coastal property owners.
“You had to be asleep at the wheel if you weren’t hearing stories of water shortages and farmers struggling to get an immediate delivery of water at the height of the season. Water supply was also regarded as a critical service, so we saw the opportunity.”
The spotlight on access to quality water has increased over the last few years, especially since the water contamination of Havelock North’s drinking water supply in August 2016 as well as the need for better water storage provisions for the primary sector.
Shaun and business partner Peter Cadwallader did some due diligence about the opportunity of water supply provisions and have set up Hawke’s Bay Water in time for the busy 2020/21 summer season.
“Our market research found that there is major shortage of water carriers, with people waiting up to three weeks in summer for water.
“I previously come from a transport background as well, so I understand trucks, drivers, log books and things like that.”
The pair have purchased two tanker units capable of moving a total of 28,000 litres under a Ministry of Health approved drinking water safety plan, and plan to operate 24/7 during the busy summer months.
Long term, they see an opportunity to become a turnkey water management and service provider from ‘tank to tap’.
“The whole idea in the future is to provide the tanks, plumbing, filtering and the water as well as all the compliance and monitoring. We will assist people to identify their needs, and treatment types and methods, then source quotes and project manage the works. Finally, we will develop the drinking water safety plan, which includes monitoring service maintenance/replacements, and sampling regimes.
“We want to add some professionalism and a turnkey solution. We want to be able to advise our clients on what are the best filtration and UV systems, not just deliver a tank of water.”
Peter has lived on a farm for many years and has experienced the stress of wondering how long it would be before their water would run out during long hot summers.
“We captured rainwater in our 45,000-litre tank and when that ran out, we would pump water from a creek three kilometres away, and when the creek ran dry, we had to find another source.
“These days we can deliver a tank of water, which takes the pressure off local sources and resource consent water restrictions.”
Despite his other business interests, both Shaun and Peter will be clocking up the kilometres over summer delivering water.
They purchase water from council-owned water filling stations in Hastings, Napier and Central Hawke’s Bay and will deliver as far north has Mahia and to Dannevirke in the south.
“We’re a start-up business so we’ll be doing the deliveries ourselves. We do have some others that are interested in helping out but we’ll see how we get on.
“Our real point of difference will be that we are 24/7.”
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