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Who is the Jockey?

BY Leslie Ter Morshuizen

Potential investors often ask me what I need to know when advising them in order to assess whether their proposed aquaculture venture will be profitable or not, and seem surprised when I ask `who is the jockey?’ After several years in the industry I am more convinced than ever that management is by far the biggest factor separating successful operations from those that are mediocre and those that fail outright.

 

There certainly are different management styles. I remember a farm on the Zululand coast that was run by an entrepreneur who appeared not to believe in maintenance as this ate into his expansion budget, whereas others choose to do things in stainless steel and glass. Both can be successful as this is not the determining factor. Some farms run on a skeleton of staff whereas others seem to have an abundance of manpower; this too is insufficient to differentiate success from failure.

 
What I have observed is that those managers who are detail orientated and production focussed appear to be the ones who most commonly succeed. Naturally to this we need to add a long list of skills including a hawk-like focus on cashflow, ability to work with people, higher than normal energy levels and an appetite for risk and reward. On site the manage also need to be sure that operation expenses are being managed, especially feed usage efficiency and that the best possible price is obtained for every fish sold.

 August 05, 2013
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