Thomas Brothers Project – Hortivate New Zealand


Sometimes it’s hard to say when a story began and even harder to say how; some dealers are so back in time that we almost completely forget, but it is not the case. 

We remember precisely when a New Zealander asked for a plastic tie, basically the silliest of the items among Valente catalogues. Our fantasy began to run: exotic far and far away from green lands, full of kiwis and dreams on how many hectares would have been down there, etc., but they were looking for a plastic tie. We never understood where he found them, but Valente’s name was branded on them, so they quickly reached us, and this is how we met Cedric and Regan French in the not-so-far 2019. 

Hortivate was born at that moment, along with a trip to Italy in 2018 made by Cedric French, its founder. Most of his life has been spent in the horticultural sector, and so has his family. Founders in New Zealand of the first mechanical grader and bulk handling of fruit globally and founders of the still most proven apple, “Braeburn”. 

Well, that trip to Italy was inspiring for Cedric and his son Regan, that for the first time, they saw concrete structures used for horticultural purposes, the perfect solution to substitute the old wooden piles of New Zealand that with the growing concerns of CCA leaching represented no longer the best solution for structures. 

Back home, they started scouting to understand whom to reach out to on the market to bring the cement structures to their country. They reached out to us. “And here we came across Valente,” says Cedric “, the leading global company in manufacturing engineered concrete structures. Valente is recognized worldwide for its quality and service and highly recommended by existing clients.” This marked the beginning of a long correspondence looking for structures most suitable to NZ conditions. The most important thing to keep in mind, every time a new country appears in the Valente world, there is hardly a standard solution for everybody. “Hortivate has found Valente very willing to adapt and design structures to cater for requirements in New Zealand, upholding their warranties for fully engineered solutions“, explains Regan, “that together with Valente, we won our first project“. 

Still, the strong commitment of both sides would have been hardly sufficient if we were not able to find THE client. In Valente, we define him as “the pioneer”, Regan and Cedric call him “the early adopter”, but the character is the same: THE client is the one that is ready to test on his orchard for the first time with a product they may have never seen in their life. We Europeans find this hard to understand, so accustomed to seeing cement structures everywhere in our countryside but try to imagine what kind of trust a person can inspire to persuade somebody to invest in a thing that is not currently in their country. 

This is not something that any dealer can do nor that any client can accept, but in New Zealand, this client has a name: Hortivate and Thomas Brothers accordingly. 

The structure was a common Superspindel, with a 2D growing system and hail covering, one of the most standard available in Europe, but a cutting edge solution for New Zealand. 

Thomas Bros project went as planned; everything landed on-site in the late New Zealand winter, including all necessary items from the ground up. Leaving a favourable impression on Mark Thomas, co-owner of the orchard, that says, “Concrete structures are just as quick to install as a conventional structure“. Comments are “The staff enjoy working in the new structure“. 

Hortivate states, “cement is the solution for any Horticultural structure in New Zealand“. Hortivate can accommodate multiple uses on one structure, i.e. for apples; we can incorporate plant support, hail protection and bird protection all on one structure. We incorporate plant support, automated rain covers, and bird protection all on one structure for cherries. The adaptability of the structure is unparalleled. With CCA leaching becoming a big issue in NZ soils and not having many alternatives, Hortivate has the solution: NO CCA leaching, NO rust and fully engineered systems offering a long-lasting, high performing system”. 

Thomas Brothers was the first client trusting Hortivate for their orchard structures, but they are no longer the only ones with cement structures in NZ. Their orchard has been set up during 2020 fall (New Zealand spring) and has attracted many visitors, people interested in this new solution, bringing quite fast another ten containers of materials leaving Valente during 2021 and another thirty during this early beginning of 2022, with a strong growing market and interest around the products, thanks to the tireless work of Cedric and Regan, that were the first to believe in us in their market.

And all of this is because of a branded plastic tree tie in an orchard somewhere in Europe.

Motueka 7120 Tasman, New Zealand