Derek Willats, National Manager for Mainfeeds, is an industrial engineer who ended up making animal feed.
But it’s not as unusual as it might seem – he grew up in a family with milling operations that made not only food for livestock and game animals (this was in South Africa), but also maize meal, a staple food for people in Africa.
After school, Derek completed a Bachelor of Science in Engineering. In a deliberate effort to gain experience outside food manufacturing, he worked in the supply chain at Unilever, and then in supply and production at an electronics firm.
Then it was time to get back to the family milling business. Derek became Manufacturing Manager at Wes Enterprises, a business with 120 employees that, apart from more traditional animal feeds, exports an innovative acacia-based herbivore feed to five continents.
After moving to New Zealand, he set-up his own niche operations consultancy business, where he was introduced to Nutritech in 2017. Joining Nutritech was his first venture into the manufacturing of animal feed premixes and nutritional supplements in New Zealand. He also had a short foray into construction before joining Mainfeeds early in 2020.
Derek’s role on the NZFMA is to represent the milling industry as a whole, with a particular interest in monogastric feed production.
“I want to make sure that we fairly represent all feed manufacturers. We understand the conditions and practical realities under which feed manufacturers operate in New Zealand. As an organisation, we’re here to give a collective voice to feed millers on any issue and we have a duty to serve and protect our members and the industry. It’s our responsibility to be a leadership body and lobby on behalf of our members.”