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Rabobank
 

Craig and Lani Julian

Julian Family

Kiwifruit and boysenberries represent the dream family lifestyle for Whakatane growers, Craig and Lani Julian, and they value having a banking partner that comes with them for the ride.

The Julians grow 6 hectares of boysenberries and 25ha of kiwifruit. Craig is second generation to farm the property and was born and raised on the boysenberry farm – he hopes his kids may one day become the third generation. “I was always a green finger, had a little nursery and played around in glasshouses. I love being outside and now, the big driver is the world’s greatest family lifestyle. I work at home, it’s great with the kids around – the perfect job,” Craig says.

Family first

The couple have two children, Ella, 14, and Jai, 10. “They love it, it’s early days but they both independently say this is what they want to do."

"We would love to support them into the business, there’s heaps of room for growth and innovation in our industry…I would love to work beside them, like I did with my dad.”

Craig sees it as an exciting time for the sector, with a bright future and lots of opportunities for them to explore.

“It’s extremely exciting, the future of kiwifruit, and even the berries, with the innovation of going indoors.”

Julian Family

Although they see plenty of opportunities for growth and that’s in the long term plan, at the moment they are enjoying the lifestyle and spending time with their kids, while they’re still at home.

“We are very lifestyle focused. Opportunity is constantly knocking at our door but we are conscious that while the kids are young…we love surfing, diving, I coach a lot of sport. We are taking small steps, so watch this space.

“Growing Gold kiwifruit, and green for that matter, we are doing well and the profit creates opportunity to re-invest in development.

We have all kinds of plans – to buy some land, we’re really excited about the Red variety and want to grow our Gold portfolio, and we’re looking at covering berries.”

Craig is passionate and enthusiastic when he talks about the things they have in the pipeline – he’s just not too sure exactly when they will happen. For now, he’s happy living the dream.Craig is passionate and enthusiastic when he talks about the things they have in the pipeline – he’s just not too sure exactly when they will happen. For now, he’s happy living the dream.

Julian Family
“We’re very focused on doing what we do, really well. There’s always room to improve within the business, rather than trying to grow.”

The kiwifruit is all sold through Zespri. “It’s wonderful, we’re very supportive of it.”

The boysenberries are a bit tougher, as growers must find their own market. The Julians currently have a strong contract to supply Heinz Watties. Of the 130 tonnes of boysenberries they produce annually, Heinz Watties processes 120 tonnes. “We are almost the exclusive supplier. We hand-pick the berries and deliver them, and they put them in a can.”

A valued banking partner

The Julians have been with Rabobank for about 10 years and Craig says they have never looked back since joining the bank.

“We originally rocked into BNZ when we were just starting out, we’d just got married and were in our 20s and we wanted to buy a berry picking machine. They said no, I couldn’t believe it. I thought I’m your future, I’m the exact person you want to lend money to.”

They were forced to look elsewhere, and went to the bank Craig’s parents were with in order to get a guarantor. “I felt we were under the wing of my parents and they (the bank) were not supportive of us growing.”

One day a regional manager for Rabobank turned up on their doorstep, he was young and enthusiastic, and really appealed to the couple. 

“We’ve never looked back. They’re a progressive bank and you get the feeling that the whole group is really about young farmers – that’s who we are and you feel quite special being their core business.”

Craig says Rabobank has always been supportive. “They sit down with us every year and look at our equity ratio and have a conversation around the next step. I can call and tell them what I’m thinking, and they share their views. They are all really neat guys.

“It’s been a very nice journey with them and we are pretty committed to where we are at. I would rather be remembered at a good bugger than a rich bugger. We are living the dream.”