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Murray McPhail, our founder and director, has been named a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in King’s Birthday Honours List

Barry O’Neil, President of Horticulture New Zealand says that Murray’s honour reflects his contribution to horticulture as well as his investment in, and support of, regional New Zealand for almost 50 years.

“LeaderBrand, the company that Murray founded, was the first to introduce bagged lettuce to New Zealand as well as provide a 200 per cent guarantee on all its produce. He is also credited as introducing broccoli to the New Zealand palate”

“Murray is a visionary leader and businessperson. Tenacity, charisma and clear vision have all been vital to Murray’s success. However, it is his boundless energy and drive that has led to his ongoing success.

“Throughout his career, he has been innovative and not afraid to take calculated risks, while providing employment for thousands of people over nearly five decades of business,” says Barry O’Neil.

Richard Burke, our CEO says that Murray’s vision to create a world-class farm is what continues to drive the team today.

“Murray’s success was in realising quickly which produce grew best in which soil and committing to crops that could be grown all year round. He also had a knack at picking future consumer trends and predicting what Kiwis were going to want to eat in the future. This was one of the key drivers to our investment into bagged salads and our undercover greenhouses.

“His career has not been without its challenges though. Cyclone Bola in 1988 destroyed the farm. Many farmers, at the time decided to sell up, but Murray’s tenacity and drive drove him to replace and rebuild. It was this pioneering spirit and the Kiwi can-do attitude, that drove us once again to dig-in after this year’s Cyclone Hale and Gabrielle,” he says.

“Murray has led the industry for 50 years and built from scratch one of the largest produce businesses in New Zealand. He’s been at the forefront of new product and process development in New Zealand produce industry and one of the many reasons he was awarded the country’s highest horticultural achievement, the Bledisloe Cup, in 2016.”

“All the of team at LeaderBrand are chuffed that Murray has been honoured for his services to our industry and for his commitment to Gisborne region. It is well-deserved,” says Richard Burke.

Murray is not one for the spotlight and is always the first to acknowledge that his success has always been a team effort.

“I’m incredibly honoured and it is a real privilege to receive such a prodigious award for doing something that has never felt like work.

“There are so many people who have gone before, and who are still active in the industry, who are equally deserving,” he said. “I humbly accept this award on behalf of all of them.”

“It’s LeaderBrand as a team who have done all these things. I’ve just been there by name.

“To me the success of LeaderBrand is all about its people. I started off growing plants but ended up growing people, something I’m very proud of” says Murray McPhail.