Louise Millar, National Greenhouse Sales & Product Management, SPS
Louise Millar has worked for South Pacific Seeds for the past 12 years but has been involved in the horticulture industry her entire working career, she has seen many changes in the greenhouse industry in that time. Her role as National Greenhouse Sales & Product Management involves working closely with growers, this has given her a unique insight into the different grower’s and their operations. The relationship Louise has built with her customers has formed the solid foundation for her continued success and respect amongst the greenhouse growing community.
Louise’s work covers Capsicum, Chilli, Cucumber, Eggplant and Tomato greenhouse crops and she is also involved with supporting the South Pacific Seeds greenhouse team in Australia.
Louise was born and raised in Dannevirke in Hawkes Bay, she grew up in the town. Two of her Uncles were involved in the horticulture industry, one was an orchardist, growing apples and citrus, and the other working with process crops specialising in peas. Louise has fond memories sitting in the pea harvester during hot summer days helping her Uncle. After completing secondary school Louise decided to enrol at Massey University, and after two years study successfully gained a Diploma of Horticulture. Louise wanted to compliment her first diploma so she studied for a further two years and completed a Diploma of Business Studies, endorsed in Human Resources, also at Massey University.
Soon after graduating, Louise was offered a position at Fruitfed Supplies in Tauranga. For the next three years she worked as a sales representative servicing the kiwifruit industry. In 1990, Louise asked for a one-year career break so she could embark on the great Kiwi OE. On her return to NZ, a role as Branch Manager was offered at Fruitfed. The job was situated in Kumeu. Louise worked at the branch for 3 years before being promoted to the position of Sales Manager for the Northern Region. During that time Louise met her future husband (Derek) at a triathlon event, they were married in 1997. In the year 2000, with her first son Joshua on the way, Louise decided she would become a stay at home mum. Her second son William was born in 2001.
In 2004 Louise received a phone call from a recruitment agency asking her if she would be interested in a position at Webling and Stewart Seeds. This presented the perfect opportunity to re-enter the work force. Louise was employed as National Manager; the company had just been purchased by South Pacific Seeds along with Yates Vegetable Seeds. Over the next two years with two others, Louise was tasked with selling the remaining seed inventory. After two years the company was then dissolved and merged with South Pacific Seed Sales (NZ) Limited. Louise was then asked to transfer and was offered a role at SPS, and the rest as they say is history. Since 2007 she has been focused on the greenhouse industry.
Louise has seen a huge amount of change in the industry and believes growers have become a lot more professional, she believes compliance, technology and new varieties have improved grower output. One thing she would like to see is more grower discussion groups and sharing of information. Annual trips are made to Holland, and she believes it is extremely important to gain first hand knowledge of any new varieties that could be suited to New Zealand. Louise said the Enza Zaden breeders (who supply their greenhouse genetics to SPS) thoroughly understand New Zealand growing conditions and will only introduce new varieties they believe will potentially thrive in New Zealand. When she visits Europe, the trials are half way through the season, Louise believes this is an advantage as it already identifies new material which could be trialled in New Zealand.
Louise has spent a great deal of time focusing on capsicums and after her recent visit to Europe believes that grafted capsicum plants will offer growers the real potential of higher returns. Seven percent increases in production have been achieved in Europe. Improved fruit size and root health are the main reasons behind the increase in production. The other ‘huge’ positive is the reduction of root treatments.
It is these advances in technology, cultivation and genetics that keeps Louise challenged in her role with South Pacific Seeds and continues her interest in building partnerships with the greenhouse growers of New Zealand.
Louise and Sashi Cassidy, Manager from Gourmet Waiuku.
Louise and Sashi checking on the progress of a new trial variety
Louise amongst a crop of Campari tomatoes (supplied by SPS) illuminated with LED lighting at Gourmet Mokai.
For any information on greenhouse vegetable varieties please contact Louise.
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Article Written by Stefan Vogrincic, Consultant, Grower2Grower