Allison confirmed as Elders' boss

30 Apr, 2014 09:30 AM
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Mark Allison.
Mr Allison has extensive CEO experience with a number of successful rural businesses
Mark Allison.

UPDATED: MARK Allison, who has been chairing Elders’ executive committee since November last year, has been appointed chief executive officer and managing director of the agricultural company after an almost year-long search for Malcolm Jackman's successor.

Mr Allison will resign his position as executive director of GrainGrowers, which he has held concurrently with his Elders' roles.

The new CEO's appointment was originally planned in the first quarter of this year, but was delayed until other directorships were in place.

Mr Allison has been an Elders director since November 2009, and was appointed chairman in June 2013 following former boss Mr Jackman's early departure.

Mr Jackman had initially flagged he would be departing as managing director in 2014, but resigned early in November 2013 after finalising the sale of Elders Futuris motor vehicle products division.

Incoming Elders chairman Hutch Ranck said Mr Allison has extensive CEO experience with a number of successful rural businesses including Wesfarmers Landmark, Wesfarmers CSBP, Makhteshim Agan Australasia, and Crop Care Australasia.

“In particular, Mark’s experience in running a rural distribution network and his understanding of the opportunities and challenges facing the rural industry, both domestically and abroad, are highly relevant to Elders’ operations,” Mr Ranck said.

Mr Allison said he was honoured to take on the CEO role at Elders as the company continues its progress as a pure agribusiness.

“I am mindful that Elders’ staff, clients, security-holders, suppliers and financiers have been through significant change and challenging times in recent years, but I am very encouraged by the progress we are now making towards our goals,” he said.

Mr Allison's remuneration package will be worth $820,000, Elders told the ASX this morning.

Rumours have been circulating for some months in regional Australia that Mr Allison, who has 30 years experience in the agricultural services sector, had put his name forward to shift from the chairman's job he took over in June last year.

Another leading contender for the job was Elders group general manager for the company's Australian network David Goodfellow, who was appointed by Mr Jackman and initially widely tipped to be his likely successor.

Mr Goodfellow had moved to Elders from heading up Macquarie Bank's Paraway Pastoral to run the farm service company's branch network.

Elders recently appointed a NSW cattleman and former international banker, and Allied Mills' chief financial officer to its board. Board seats vacated by former chairman John Ballard and Josephine Rozman were filled on April 13 by James Jackson and Ian Wilton.

Mr Jackson, from the NSW North Coast, has been elected deputy chairman of the rural service, agency and export business.

As Elders' third chairman in four years, Mr Allison could be forgiven for having doubts about the task he has set himself, but his curriculum vitae suggests he's not the sort of bloke to refuse an agribusiness challenge.

His busy career has spanned many of the companies and contacts who supply Elders with products it sells.

It's also been peppered with a useful measure of overseas business experience.

His work kicked off with an agronomy focus, with an agricultural science degree at the University of Queensland leading to a job at Consolidated Fertilisers Limited (CFL) in Brisbane, then Moree in North West NSW for two years.

Mr Allison's soil nutrition, herbicide and insecticide research trial work then led to research work with Monsanto in Queensland and northern NSW during which time he also added an economics degree to his qualifications and won a global company award from the chemical giant for helping establish testing methodologies to lift Roundup CT's rain-fast effectiveness on weeds within a few hours of application.

By the late 1980s he had taken on national product manager roles with Monsanto in Melbourne before switching to the livestock industry as national sales manager for Coopers Animal Health in Sydney, then switched again to run Brisbane-based Incitec's fertiliser sales and marketing business in 1994.

In 1997 he became Crop Care Australasia's chief executive officer, later moving west to lead Wesfarmers' fertiliser and explosives business CSBP in Perth, then returned to Sydney as managing director of its rural (Landmark) and insurance business in 2002.

When national wheat exporter AWB made its bold play for a stake in the farm services and agency sector in August 2003 he was in the hot seat negotiating the deal to sell Landmark for $718 million (plus $107m to absorb debt).

Just months later, however, he quit the job, reluctant to move his family, yet again (this time Melbourne), but was soon retained by Israeli chemical giant Makhteshim-Agan to assist its move into the Australian market.

He became managing director of its 2004 acquisition Farmoz and set up the New Zealand arm Agronica the same year, then in 2007 detoured from agribusiness to run industrial infrastructure service company Jeminex.

He is also frequently in China in his role as chairman of Chinese-based company Frontier Workwear, which employs about 300 workers making high-visibility clothing and related safety gear. Frontier sells to the Chinese market and exports to Australia, North, America, Britain and across Europe.

Mr Allison was - until today - also executive director of farmer-owned grain industry technical services and food analytical company, GrainGrowers, in a part-time capacity, and a director of the Grains and Legumes Nutrition Council. He has resigned from his role with GrainGrowers to focus on the Elders' challenge.

“In his five years with GrainGrowers, Mark has played a key role in transforming the organisation into a far more professional and sustainable body representing grain growers,” GrainGrowers chairman John Eastburn said. Mr Allison will stay on as a non-grower director.

Alicia Garden, GrainGrowers general manager – products and services, has been appointed acting chief executive officer for three months while the organisation recruits a new CEO.

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READER COMMENTS

Mark
30/04/2014 3:22:45 PM

Good luck, get on with the job and make ELD the professional company it should have been.
bugger me
30/04/2014 10:14:46 PM

Its a shame Mark doesn't take the rest of the GGL board with him.
Pearl
1/05/2014 4:26:42 AM

Mark good luck - wish you lots of joy and fullfilment in this position.
Danny Porat
1/05/2014 8:20:26 AM

Good luck Mark, I am sure you will do a marvelous job, and congratulations to Elders on choosing the right guy for the job

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