The sale of the Silverhill Quarry, at Te Hana, to Steve and Gladyse Levet of Wellsford, is a case of neighbours doing business with neighbours.
The quarry land is owned by stock agent Neil Jones, a neighbour on one side of the Levets and was, until this month, operated by Borrows Farmers Lime owners Alvyn and Valerie Borrows, who live on the other side.
The Borrows and the Levets also share a common heritage, being both Albertlanders.
“There’s something nice about the fact that we all know each other well,” Steve says. “It makes the handover much easier.”
The Levets have been in the agricultural contracting business for 35 years, starting with hay baling and expanding into general agricultural contracting and earthmoving. To tide them over winter, they rear Friesian bulls on their 62-hectare farm.
Steve is also the national president of Rural Contractors NZ, which represents contractors involved in industries such as land development, drainage, fencing and harvesting.
He says his own business is very dependent on the vagaries of the dairy industry for its agricultural work so he sees the quarry as a good way to spread the risk.
Steve and Gladyse’s son Bryce is working at the quarry with the current manager who is also of Albertland heritage, Andrew Prictor. Long-time Levet Contracting employee Warren Spindler will also form part of the team, alongside Alvyn who plans to progressively retire.
Steve says the five-hectare limestone quarry is consented until 2049 and is recognised as a source of premium lime in the district, making it ideal for driveways, farm races and roading. It was started by the Shepherd family and later developed by Vic and Tony Lipanovic.
Alvyn and Val have leased the quarry for the past 20 years, although Alvyn has been working in the quarry industry for more than 40 years.
“Playing in sand pits has been my lifetime’s work,” he says. “The old Farmers Cooperative quarry, which sold a lot of pulverised lime for top dressing was on the family farm.
“We’re very grateful for the strong local support we have had from the farming community and would also like to thank Andrew Prictor for his long service and friendship.
“While I still like playing in the ‘sand pit’ I won’t miss the work involved in meeting consents and compliance. It’s just got more and more difficult and expensive over the years; way more than it should be.”