Just a few years ago fifth generation South Australian farmer Tim Edwards didn’t expect his future would include running the beloved property that’s been in his family for more than 130 years.
After growing up on the Port Broughton cropping farm then run by Tim’s father Peter and uncle, the farm’s long-term future was unsure and so Tim had pursued a trade, getting his ticket as a carpenter.
Today, however, the Yorke Peninsula agribusiness is going from strength to strength. Since 2017, Tim has been helping with the running the farm alongside his dad and mum, Joanne, and it’s planned he’ll take it over when they retire in a few years.
The family credits much of the strong performance of the business, and the confident and clear succession pathway now in place, to the guidance of accounting and wealth management firm Perks, particularly their long-time adviser Matthew Petersen.
“I don’t think I’d be farming if it wasn’t for Perks,” said Tim, “and I don’t think I’d now be considering if my 19-month-old son, Joey, might like to be a farmer too. Perks has been vital in helping us get to the stage that allowed me to come back and work on “Gulfvue” the family farm.”
The Edwards family have worked with Perks for around a decade. It was particularly invaluable eight years ago when the farm went through a major restructure.
“It was a very big step for us,” Peter said. “The main challenge was crunching the numbers and making sure everything was covered in the restructure. Our Perks adviser helped us understand the business inside and out and then gave Joanne and I the reassurance going forward for the next step on the family farm. Matt along with others gave us the confidence to continue.
“Having that independent person, that we all knew and trusted, was invaluable.
A key turning point for the business was a shift in strategy with a larger focus on leasing land to allow it to expand its cropping operations at a time when land for sale was in short supply.
In the last eight years the Edwards have almost tripled their cropping program, building from around 800 to 2200 hectares.
Throughout the process, Matthew Petersen – who heads up Perks’ agribusiness specialisation – has worked alongside them providing financial guidance and real-time information about how the business is tracking, and advice with strategic decision-making.
“We have greater visibility of exactly what’s happening,” said Peter. “We continue to benchmark to make sure our inputs & capatilisation of machinery, etc, are realistic in the current Ag Industry. It’s given us that confidence to expand, to lease that first block, and subsequent blocks.”
Tim said an important benefit of the relationship with Matthew was having someone who would question their thinking and help them to see the larger picture.
“We know we can use him as a sounding board because he’s not afraid to challenge us when it’s needed,” said Tim.
These days, Peter and Joanne’s sights are also firmly set on planning their retirement with the peace of mind in knowing that the family farm’s future is in good hands.
They worked closely with Perks Private Wealth Director, Nick Connelly on strategies to separate their personal and business assets and develop a financial plan to allow them to step back and enjoy retirement.
“That’s the cherry on the top for us,” said Peter. “I’ll still help Tim out on the farm, but we wanted to be independent and not rely on income from the farm. We’re at the point where in a couple of years we’ll have a super lump sum that we can draw down on.
“It’s a good feeling having a succession strategy in place to ensure our future and for future generations on the farm to come. We look forward to hooking on to the caravan and holidaying with our friends, when we’re not working with Timo and Nikki on the farm.
Providing expert advice in taxation and accounting, asset protection, business structures and succession planning. Matthew is a key member of the firm’s Agribusiness specialisation.
Kim Bigg is a Director at Perks and a qualified Chartered Accountant. With more than 20 years’ experience as a business adviser, Kim is highly adept at assisting growing and established businesses across a wide range of industries.
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