Bruce Is Managing Director and Chief Pilot, and along with wife Helen, owns and operates Aerospread. Bruce kicked off his working life as a musterer in the Central Otago high country and Marlborough districts. If you have time ask him about it – there is many a yarn to come from those early days.
Bruce has become one of New Zealand’s most experienced topdressing pilots, spending many years topdressing in his Cresco in the Gisborne Area, before settling Helen and family in the sunny Hawke’s Bay to start Aerospread Ltd.
Bruce’s constant drive to become a safe, innovative, efficient topdressing company has seen expansion from Aerospread’s humble beginnings. This relentless push towards achieving these goals for the aviation industry and farming community is what makes Bruce, Helen and Aerospread the successful family run business that it is, today.
Bruce’s passion is topdressing and although spending more and more time on special projects that will improve safety and efficiently in the topdressing industry, Bruce loves nothing more than helping his daughter Anya improve her horse riding skills and can often be found at local events in Hawke’s Bay.
Kent joined Aerospread in early 2016 in the new role of Operations Manager, and in July 2018 became the General Manager.
Born and bred in Pongaroa, a small rural spot in Southern Hawke’s Bay, and as an old boy of Pongaroa Primary, spelling is not Kent’s strength. However being able to skin an eel in under a minute is a pleasure to watch. Kent attended Boarding School in Napier, and then spent many years running a Hawke’s Bay based livestock company. Kent honed and developed his logistic skills over these years, and with wife Kirsty, owns and runs KTL Transport, specialising in keeping fertiliser in front of the Aerospread planes.
Kent likes to spend long summer holidays in Mahia with his family, and with son Ollie, attempting to single handedly deplete the local fish and crayfish stocks. Kirsty often complains about eating endless cans of tuna, but appreciates it when concerned neighbours bring around surplus fish. We’re all told to watch this space for “KTL Rocket Tours“ as the Rocket Lab launches more Rockets from this remote settlement.
Kathleen moved to Hawke’s bay from Johannesburg with her husband Thomas and family, 15 Years ago. Kathleen has a perpetual and unwavering upbeat mood, constantly smiling and being very jovial, despite dealing with the testing Aerospread lads.
Kathleen is a one-lady warrior in a male dominated workplace. If you want something done promptly and efficiently, talk to Kathleen - her motto, “consider it done”.
All staff very quickly learnt to never mess with the lady who pays the wages, and also not to forget the GST receipts, as forgetting these simple rule have consequences!
Kathleen and Thomas’ dream of owning their own lifestyle block was recently achieved. Demand from wife and one of their daughters, to own more horses than imaginable, has Thomas learning very fast, the importance of pasture management.
Murray splits his time between Aerospread and Helicopters Hawke's Bay visiting customers and expanding Aerospread's client base.
Murray's family has a long association with the Central Hawke's Bay area since establishing themselves there over 130 years ago. Murray and his wife Raewyn have recently moved back to Waipawa from Hastings and are thrilled to be back in Central Hawke's Bay.
Often Murrary embarks on volunteer projects in developing countries and regions who are experiencing great difficulty. Lately Murrary spent time in remote highland regions of Thailand, building basic water and sanitation facilities.
Manager - Manawatu based
Warren has lived in The Manawatu all his life and has extensive knowledge of the area. Warren’s knowledge of the farming families, and “who’s who” in Manawatu is second only to the oracle, Hallet Griffin, himself. Warren was Pete’s right hand man and chief loader driver, promoted to Base Manager during the Aerospread take over. Warren has fallen in love with his iPhone, Laptop and love for Google Maps.
Spare time to Warren doesn’t exist. The calling of the 300 cows on the family dairy farm, ensure that he finds something to do at work, so he doesn’t have to milk in the afternoon. However he loves dragging his kids around hills and through creeks searching for the ever elusive Fallow Deer, and is always reminding the team at Aerospread that he needs the first weekend in May off work.
Pilot - Manawatu based
Known as Pete amongst his peers and friends, Pete was a big Part of Griffin-Ag Air for many years. Over these years Pete has formed a strong bond for his “other wife“, aircraft PWT, only ever separated when she needs a 150-hour check. Pete and “Old Yellow” are a formidable team, and have been keeping the Manawatu growing grass for years, and are looking forward to doing the same on the Eastern side of the Range.
When Pete’s not flying he’s busy helping number one wife Tash with her business, or doing school drop off with the kids. When Tash gives him some free time, Pete can be found lying in the long grass and scrub, shooting deer or other wild life in his other passion, photography. Pete, a long-time supporter of the Manawatu Turbos, is struggling to wear a Magpies jersey given to him, remaining to stay loyal to the Turbos at this stage.
Loader Driver - Manawatu based
Born and bred in Wanganui, Joel is enjoying is new location of Kairanga. Originally Billy’s apprentice loader driver in Waipukurau, Joel jumped at the chance to relocate to Kairanga to be closer to family and friends. Joel has an addiction to Dating Apps on his phone, and has swiped right numerous times, only to fall in love with his beloved cargo loader truck.
Joel has often been spotted sleeping in the cargo, making all the other loaders trucks jealous. Due to Billy’s training, Joel has become a dynamite on the loader, and handles a shovel like an escaping convict (although he has a bad habit of leaving the shovel and broom behind in his haste to escape). Joel’s commitment to his phone is strong - he would follow that phone to the moon and back, in his pursuit for love.
Pilot - Waipukurau based
Steve returned to Hawke's Bay in May 2014 with his family after living in Northland and Taranaki. He is running Aerospread's Waipukurau base, which is full circle for Steve, as he was born just down the road at the Waipukarau hospital
A second generation pilot, not only with aviation in his veins if the rumours are to be believed he had Av gas in his baby bottle. He spent almost all of his youth and the following years driving loaders for his father's two Fletcher aircraft before he qualified to start flying. During his time doing this Steve developed solid mechanical skills and is well versed in how to keep an ailing loader operating.
He's married to Joyce (who is much younger and very pretty. Go Steve!) and has four children. He's a serious home handy man and is largely despised by his colleagues who by comparison makes them look completely inept.
Chief Loader Driver/Driver Trainer
Billy was one part of the original two man team when Aerospread first started. Unfortunately Billy got pretty banged up a few years ago in a serious accident. At times his outlook was not positive but through the marvels of modern medicine and his strength of character he managed to pull through and late in 2016 returned to work at Aerospread much to everyone's delight.
Along with his family he immigrated from Scotland about 12 years ago. Initially communicating in English was challenging. Thanks to Google's brilliant translation tool we can now understand some of what he's saying.
Living in Scotland he was a farmer and a heavy vehicle trainer. He has been able to apply his training skills and high standards to the Aerospread loader drivers, ensuring the vehicles are driven safely and without causing them damage.
He is a huge fan of Formula One and follows an unpronounceable Scottish football team.
Operations - Napier based
Chris recently traded in his dogs, whistle, packed lunch and 4WD Ute, for a computer, iPhone, and mocha late, to become Aerospread’s Operations man, based in the new Aerospread office in Napier. Chris has come to Aerospread with an extensive knowledge of the entire lower North Island.
From walking the hills behind dogs on some of Taihape and the East Coast’s biggest farms, to sealing livestock deals as a stock and station agent, Chris has gathered much knowledge over his years involved in the farming industry.
Chris and wife Jo live on their farm on the outskirts of Napier. With adult children having flown the coop, the emphasis has been placed on Jo to keep the lambs , two year old heifers and chooks well fed, so Chris can fulfil his contractional obligations of supplying the Aerospread team with endless supply of lamb, beef and free-range eggs.
Pilot - Napier based
Known to every one as Scotty, he and wife Lindsay have recently relocated from the Manawatu. After the initial shock of entering the Napier housing market as home owners, they have settled in fine.
The aim of Scotty’s move to Napier, was to become New Zealand’s newest Agricultural rated Top Dressing Pilot, whilst wife Lindsay’s was to sample every Hawke’s Bay Rosé wine possible. Twelve months in, and both goals have been somewhat achieved – Scotty is topdressing solo, and Lindsay simply can’t move on from the Church Road 2017 vintage.
Scotty’s spare time is fully consumed in the hunt for deer, or at least walking around in bush and scrub for days on end searching. The promise of venison on the barbie to his work colleagues gains him extra time off to do this walking, although their patience is wearing thin, from no return on their investment.
Loader Driver - Napier based
Glen arrived at Aerospread with a passion for the aviation industry, albeit in Helicopters. Despite no-one at Aerospread being able to pronounce or spell Glen’s surname, we’ve slowly converted him to the ‘fixed wing’ way of thinking.
Mechanically minded, Glen has the ability to get the most out of the loader trucks, and enjoys getting into the bulk trucks also.
The conversion from helicopters to fixed wing has been simple. There has been no such luck in getting him to change his rugby club allegiance though - the Taradale Rugby Club bar take can be down substantially the Friday nights that Glen’s working late. Glen is adamant his change from top level club rugby to golden oldies rugby had nothing to do with his fitness levels, and more to do with wanting to be more involved with his son’s rugby, and to helping his daughter with her commercial pilots licence.
Felix Ellis Jones
Loader driver - Napier based
Felix joined Aerospread in September 2017 and despite looking very young, he assures everyone he is of legal working age. Felix’s passion is flying and he already has his commercial pilots licence. Felix’s goal is to one day top-dress his grandfather’s farm in Pakipaki.
Felix tells everyone he’s “living his dream”. To be able to arrive at work every day in his aviator sunglasses and maverick overalls, and to have no one laugh about his Top Gun attire (at least to his face), has been a goal he’s had for years.
Felix’s other love is surfing. Although he’s not any good at it, he finds the ability to have the need for roof racks on the car, and to carry a surf board under one arm dressed like the actors from Top Gun, is a great conversation starter with the ladies.