The Hortinvest team
Project and orchard development manager
Ross is a born and bred orchardist with more than 40 years' experience in sourcing, developing and managing land, orchards and packhouses. He has a deep understanding of horticulture and how to maximise production.
Ross’s broad experience includes all the practical aspects of husbandry, such as the latest machinery developments, irrigation set up, sprays, crop protection and compliances.
This knowledge, combined with the invaluable experience he has in effectively managing and setting up orchards and packhouses, plus his constant push to bring new technology, systems and techniques into the business, means he is at the leading edge of horticulture production in New Zealand.
From August 2014, Ross worked with New Zealand Cherry Corp contracted engineers to develop and commission a state-of-the-art, purpose-built cherry packing facility and cool store at 19 Ree Crescent, Cromwell. His brief was to take New Zealand Cherry Corp fruit quality and acceptance from the bottom of the market to the top. We achieved this by modifying some of the orchard procedures and utilising the technology in the new packhouse. New Zealand Cherry Corp brands, Cherry Delight, Red Sensation and Red Envy are now premium New Zealand cherry brands.
Ross was contracted to project-manage construction of a state-of-the-art, high-tech packhouse (May 2017-April 2018) and manage operations during the cherry harvest (November 2018-February 2019). Ross is currently developing the Tarras Cherry Corp orchard.
Find out more about Ross' specialist knowledge and experience. View his LinkedIn profile here.
Marketing and sales manager
Sharon has a Horticultural Science Degree with a Major in Marketing. Her background includes 13 years with export marketer Turners and Growers and 18 years running her export business, Southern Kowhai Exports.
In recent years, as well as running her own company she has taken on roles within other companies to develop their export and marketing businesses. She has an in-depth understanding of international markets and export compliance that has proved to be invaluable to our clients.
Sharon has an extensive network and is well respected within the international produce community.
With decades of experience in selling product globally, Sharon consults on how to effectively brand and package products to appeal to target markets. She also oversees the design and production of packaging and marketing materials for clients.
Her thorough understanding of how to market and sell products globally means she can combine various aspects of a project together to ensure it is completed on time and in budget.
From August 2014 to June 2017, Sharon contracted to New Zealand Cherry Corp as its international sales consultant. She worked with the directors to implement their domestic and international sales and marketing strategy and develop target markets, along with setting up the system to allow achievement of the internationally recognised Global Gap certification. Additionally she was instrumental in setting up the MPI accredited Operator system for the NZCP packhouse.
From December 2017 to July 2019, Sharon contracted to a cherry co-operative as domestic and international sales manager. Sharon has been international sales manager for JR's Orchards, Greytown since July, 2017 and sales manager for Trophy Ridge Cherries NZ from August 2019 to February 2020.
Find out more about Sharon’s specialist knowledge and experience. View her LinkedIn profile here.
Mariette joined Hortinvest in October 2018. In her role, she works predominantly at our Tarras Cherry Corp development taking care of the 40 hectare orchard on a daily basis, and supporting Ross in his role as manager.
Originally from South Africa, Mariette moved to New Zealand in 2007. She is a passionate outdoors person, loves the trees and has five years’ experience in the Central Otago cherry industry. Mariette continues to upskill and is looking forward to the future as part of the great team at Hortinvest.
Katarina joined Hortinvest in April 2018 and in many instances will be your first point of contact. She has a Bachelor of Commerce with Majors in Finance and Management from Victoria University of Wellington.
She is volunteer treasurer for Land SAR and comes to us from Mainfreight with experience in domestic transport, third party logistics, health and safety, and customer service.
Katarina's main role at Hortinvest is as the financial administrator, looking after all aspects of our accounts and those of our clients. She also assists with budgeting, reporting, and research. Katarina is heavily involved in implementing Health and Safety systems and supports Ross and Sharon in their orchard, packhouse, and marketing roles.
Find out more about Kat’s specialist knowledge and experience. View her LinkedIn profile here.
Horticultural trainee Megan Asher works alongside orchard and project development manager Ross Kirk planting, pruning, tree training and implementing pest and disease control among other aspects of tree husbandry.
Megan is currently studying towards a certificate in horticulture – orchard canopy management – at Otago Polytechnic.
Since joining Hortinvest in 2018, she has also developed skills in packhouse management and export documentation.
Prior to joining Hortinvest, Megan was deputy supervisor at Georgies After School and Holiday Programme – a role which aided her professional and personal development. A passionate community volunteer, Megan and her dog Jake were part of the Otago SPCA dog squad in 2015, visiting local rest homes, and the hospice and children’s ward at Dunedin Hospital, spreading cheer to those in need.
Find out more about Mega. View her LinkedIn profile here.