• Strategic advisory and sustainability with BDO
Case Study:

Strategic advisory and sustainability with BDO

17 October 2018

A small rowing boat. That's where Greg Summerton started his fishing career 35 years ago. Now, his vessel goes to sea for six weeks at a time, producing highly-branded, sustainably caught fish that's ready for export as soon as the ship docks. 

Okains Bay Seafood is just one of Greg's businesses. He's got a carbon neutral calving farm, 1,150 manuka bee hives, a 100 per cent pure wagyu beef herd, as well as a tourism lodge and camping ground. The aim of all of these is to produce sustainable products that can be used all around the world. He's achieved this, exporting sustainable products to Asia and even as far afield as Iceland.

And, BDO's strategic advisory team is proud to say we helped him get there. 

    Greg started out in a rowing boat - now his vessel goes to sea for six weeks at a time!Greg's vessel goes to sea for six weeks at a time - it's a long way from the rowing boat he started out in!

Providing support and structure 

A few years ago, Greg was asked to become a director of the fishing company of his Iwi, so attended a directorship course where a BDO Partner was lecturing. There was a lot of growth potential in Greg's business at the time, but he just needed that extra bit of support to help him realise it. "We just hit it off," he explains. "At the time I was a one man band, and BDO helped the business become much more structured. I now have a board (with BDO members on it), and the firm knows my business really well." 

Just as important was that BDO's values aligned with Greg's. He was raised the Māori way, and his family originate from Ngāi Tahu, the principle tribe of New Zealand's South Island. "For us Kaitiakitanga (guardianship and respect of the land) is essential, and I wanted to run a business that way," explains Greg. "BDO's values really match up to that. They also care about sustainability, they have a strong Māori business division, and they really want to add value into the community. I'm happy to say BDO know my family, they know my staff by name, and there's a genuine interest in my business, my community, and where we can go."

When Greg changed his fishing method to become more sustainable in 1986, a lot of people thought he'd go out of business. "It felt good to try and do it right," he says. "The fishing industry gets a lot of bad press but I've demonstrated that there's a different way to approach it. In the last five to 10 years, the marketplace has caught up and is willing to pay a premium for sustainable, environmentally-friendly practices."

BDO's strategic advisory team were able to put Greg in touch with BDO Norway - the country is a world leader in sustainable fishing.

BDO's global reach

One thing that has helped with this is BDO's national and global reach. For example, a few years ago we put Greg in touch with BDO Norway. Norwegian businesses lead the world in sustainable longline fishing and Greg has benefited significantly from these contacts. 

Other strategic advisory services Greg has used include help with access to research and development funding as well as working out strategies around digital technology. "We've worked together on a large traceability project that involves scannable QR codes as well as on-board cameras. These are fitted onto the boats and can immediately recognise fish species and produce digital reports," explains Greg.

Okains Bay's turnover has grown 8 per cent over the last three years, while earnings before interest and tax have grown 10 per cent year on year. "BDO has helped me strip down waste and improve the business. Everyone perceives them as an accounting firm, but for me they are everything but that - they are strategic partners, providing structure and identifying growth opportunities to help me expand my business."

For more information on BDO's strategic advisory services, contact the team today.