Friday, 16 February 2024 11:55

'Good bugger' calls it a day

Written by  Mark Daniel
Brian Matchett, a well-known figure in the NZ ag machinery sales, has retired after a memorable 55 years in the industry. Brian Matchett, a well-known figure in the NZ ag machinery sales, has retired after a memorable 55 years in the industry.

Much of the rural industry is made up of an army of characters who tend to be “good buggers” or rogues, while a small number might fall into the “you need to count your fingers after a handshake” category.

In the case of the New Zealand tractor and agricultural machinery ranks, one name that falls into the good bugger rating has decided to take the batteries out of his calculator and consign his notebook to the office, as he heads for his retirement.

Brian Matchett, often referred to by his surname, is a larger than life character who seems to have been in the industry for a lifetime and his working history would tend to confirm that. Those associations with NZ ag machinery date back to 1967, when he set off down the route of apprentice mechanic, at well known Maber Motors in Morrinsville, which itself is known for turning out many industry stalwarts.

After eight years, Matchett moved southwest to Tauwhare Contractors where he plied his mechanical aptitude, before moving back to Morrinsville in 1978 to the then new Power Farming Wholesale business started up by Geoff Maber. Firstly, Brian looked after the Iseki and Belarus products, before a spell as the South Island sales manager, then a move to national sales manager in 1985.

In 1990, the urge to seek pastures new kicked in and Brian jumped ship to the Case IH Group for the next twelve years or so, eventually ending up as the NZ national manager. Then in 2003 came a move to another manufacturer in the shape of AGCO, the distributors of the Massey Ferguson, Fendt and Valtra brands, taking the title of director of sales and marketing ANZ.

In 2007, the lure of the capital of Waikato dairying saw Brian returning to Morrinsville to take up a position of marketing and development manager at the rapidly expanding Piako Group, led by another Maber Motors product, Darrell Russell.

Choosing Christmas 2023 to call it a day, Rural News caught up with Matchett to talk about his most memorable moments in more than 55 years in the industry. Brian talked of the plethora of people, many of whom became lifelong acquaintances and importantly great friends.

“For me, the second part of 1985 was memorable as farmers scrambled to buy tractors ahead of the arrival of GST on purchases in 1986,” said Brian. This was followed not long after by the NZ tractor market falling to only 1100 units a year and everyone wondering if they had a job to go to on Monday morning.

“Of course, there were many overseas trips to meet suppliers or visit trade fairs, with many remembered for all types of hospitality – and I mean all types of hospitality, and a number best forgotten. But as the saying goes: what goes on tour-stays on tour.”
Rural News understands that Matchett plans to retire disgracefully, setting aside some time for one of his many, best unmentioned vices – racing his Holden Commodore.

Ah well, you can’t always be perfect!

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