Entrepreneur of the Year finalist: Jim Wright of JMW Farms Ltd, JMW Farms IRL Ltd, Crockway Farms Ltd
Pig producer running firm with revenue of £40m
Jim Wright: “I left school in 1987 at 16 with a clear view to becoming self-employed in a farming environment.”
Jim Wright is a pig producer, feed miller and renewable energy producer, currently running a company with an annual turnover of about £40 million.
With his brother, Mark, he has been producing pigs and feed from 1986, and since 2012 they have also been producing renewable energy with their own anaerobic digestion CHP plant at Tonnagh.
JMW Farms is a progressive group of companies concentrating on pig production within Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland and Britain.
It employs 145 persons as well as providing self-employment opportunities for 50 outside contract growers and the associated supply chain. JMW currently has 15,000 sows with a current stock level of 140,000 pigs and killing over 250,000 pigs per annum.
Wright has two breeding farms in the North, two in the Republic and two in Britain.
The group mills and produces its own feed and provides its own haulage for the breeding farms and the outside fattening units. Each week the JMW fleet of lorries will transport up to 14,000 pigs, 1 million litres of bulk liquid and 3,000 tonnes of grain.
What vision/light bulb moment prompted you to start up in business?
I left school in 1987 at 16 with a clear view to becoming self-employed in a farming environment. At 14 I had asked my parents for a motor-scrambler bike for my birthday and instead of the scrambler they presented me with two female pigs for breeding and from this we began to build up a small sow herd to the point that we were selling pigs every week.
What was your “back-to-the-wall” moment and how did you overcome it?
A fire at the Malton Bacon Company pork processing plant in Ballymoney, Co Antrim, on 20th June 1998 which destroyed the entire factory to whom we had been supplying all of our finished pigs. This left us with a massive challenge in finding an alternative customer for our finished pigs that were ready for slaughter. We had to work through what were extremely tough trading conditions for a period of two years until the market adjusted to the loss of a major processor.
To what extent does your business trade internationally and what are your plans?
Livestock cannot currently be exported except to the UK market. However pork products from our livestock are being exported worldwide at present and will have new export opportunities into the Asian markets in the near future.
Where would you like your business to be in three years?
Ultimate objective is to increase turnover to £100 million-plus, with a target to achieve £60 million in three to five years with sow herd around 20,000. This is achievable is subject to suitable site(s) availability and market expansion.
Based on your experience are the banks in Ireland open for business?
Yes, banks are most definitely open for business. JMW has secured finance regularly and has done so again locally very recently.
What is the most common mistake you see entrepreneurs make?
An inability to recognise what, when and to whom to delegate responsibilities to. Farmers in particular take on too much and will not permit themselves to believe their own standards of workmanship can be successfully delegated to other coworkers.
Does not appeal to me, have yet to read a book on business – I’m more practical rather than theoretical.