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Rural agency Tracta sees change of ownership

After 30 years of trading, Napier-based rural agency Tracta has announced the purchase of the business by Managing Director, Kurt Sandtmann and Advisory Board member, Ian Howard.

Sandtmann has been with Tracta since 2018 and in his role as Managing Director has overseen a successful turnaround of the business including key new client wins in Rivulis, Silver Fern Farms, Suzuki Motorcycles, NZ Cashmere and Coprice Australasia. He also launched a fully integrated digital product department and will continue in his role as Managing Director.

“With strategic marketing communications playing a big part in agriculture’s success in the foreseeable future, we’re on a mission to champion the engagement between producers, consumers, agribusinesses, and industry. Over the past few years, we have been focused solely on building a portfolio of high calibre clients and capability to ensure this can be achieved,” says Sandtmann.

Since joining Tracta, Sandtmann has worked alongside the agency Creative Director, Mark Lorrigan and Digital Creative Director Andrew Barnett to increase the agency’s creative and strategic capabilities in Agribusiness communications. He has also brought onboard Brooke Rae (ex MediaCom) as Media Director and Nick Maltby (ex Y&R/Badger) as Client Service Director.

Former Isobar CEO Ian Howard has been an advisor since 2020 and will now take up a role as Strategic Partner in the business. In this role he’ll take a more hands-on approach to developing Tracta’s strategic capability and unlocking new areas of opportunity for clients. He’ll split his time between Tracta and his brand and ethics consultancy Bright Street Studio.

“My very first day meeting the Tracta team, I flew down to Napier to run a strategy training day. It was pretty intimidating – 25-odd people in a big room looking at me. But they were so welcoming and warm. I felt a part of the team from that day on and I’m really excited to be getting more involved.

“Kurt and I have formed a really solid partnership over the last 18 months. We trust each other, see the world similarly but with enough of a difference that we have constructive disagreements. I honestly couldn’t ask for a better business partner. There’s so much talent in the team here, so much potential in the clients and so much innovation coming up the sector – it’s going to be exciting to see what we can achieve here and we’re aiming really high,” says Howard.

Like most agencies, Tracta’s capabilities span across creative, strategy and digital. However, they are focussed on applying these capabilities to a very specific agribusiness client base. It’s this tighter positioning that Howard and Sandtmann believe is the secret to their future success.

“You wouldn’t go to a dentist to find out what’s wrong with your heart, so why would you go to an urban agency to find out how to connect with a rural customer? We marry best-in-class agency capabilities with a genuine understanding of what makes rural customers tick. That makes us pretty unique and gives us every confidence in the value we can offer our clients,” adds Howard.

Both Sandtmann and Howard are full of admiration for what founder Andy Walker has achieved.

“Andy’s one of those great guys with the midas touch. What he’s achieved here over the last 30 years is just incredible. He’s given Tracta such a rich heritage and we’re absolutely committed to continuing and amplifying that legacy.” Howard: “After 30 years of hard work, Andy has earned the right to put his feet up a bit. I’ve loved working with him. He’s a bloody good man, immensely generous and also enormously knowledgeable. He’s going to remain involved at Tracta and we know he’ll be an enormous support for us on the journey,” says Sandtmann.

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