Trudy Laan - Partner at Perrin Ag Cunsultants

From childhood passion to a lifetime labour of love

Trudy Laan considers her work with farmers an “immense privilege”.

For more than two decades Trudy has worked as an agricultural consultant at Perrin Ag, specialising in dairying, corporate supervision, land use conversion and staff recruitment.

Today she is a director of the firm and principal consultant and plays a leading role in mentoring the next generation of agribusiness professionals.

It was a childhood spent on farm with her father that fuelled her love of cows and passion for farming. Born and raised on her family’s dairy farm in Pyes Pa near Tauranga, Trudy has always been interested in understanding the intricacies of agriculture.  

Her fascination with cows and grass led her to Massey University where she graduated with an Honours degree in Agricultural Science. Since then, Trudy has pursued her own farming ventures and worked as a senior tutor in agriculture. She has also been a national examiner for the NZQA.

Trudy brings a holistic approach to what she does. It is centred around problem solving, critical thinking and empathy – qualities instilled in her as a child by her parents that have underpinned her work at Perrin Ag.  

“Often our team works with farmers through major life changes, both good and bad. Whether we are assisting a client in buying and managing a new property or supporting a farmer in financial strife, problem solving and critical thinking are crucial.

“Being able to develop a genuine connection with farmers is also important. The agricultural industry is made up of honest, genuine, hardworking individuals, and we often work with them while they are under a lot of stress.

“When you work with a farmer to overcome financial hardship, it is very rewarding, humbling and an immense privilege to hold their hand through such personally challenging times. But it does require considerable compassion and empathy.”

When a farmer is in financial strife or tackling unprecedented challenges, Trudy says it is not about charging in and taking over.

“Rather, it’s about encouraging the farmer to carry on with the things they do well, and offering solutions for the things that haven’t gone so well.

“All it takes is a few bad seasons for a farmer to lose their confidence. We are here to support them in regaining autonomy over their farm business and reassure them they do know what they are doing, because they do.”

Perrin Ag has grown considerably during Trudy’s tenure. She has been instrumental in recruiting and mentoring new talent who are the right fit for the firm and its clients.

“There’s a lot of collaboration between all of us to deliver for our clients, so admittedly we are a bit fussy with our recruitment and selection.  

“But finding the right people can be challenging. Sure, we’ve got all these bright young candidates who are first class honours students. But most importantly we need people who can develop a personable connection with our clients.

“People in farming are not usually out-there, bolshy people. A lot of our clients can be quieter and more reserved, so they respond well when they feel they can be easily heard and not ‘talked at’ by their consultant.”

Perrin Ag attracts some the best graduates from across the country. Trudy has observed a common theme over the years with the firm’s new hires.

“Some graduates come to us thinking we will employ them because they know all the answers.

“But the reality is, we employ those who can demonstrate they can learn the answers.”

This ‘freedom to learn’ is encouraged at Perrin Ag and has earned the firm a reputation as an employer of choice. While the current tight labour market makes it challenging to find good people, Trudy is proud of Perrin Ag’s well-curated team, which spans the full gamut of agricultural consulting.

Trudy has worked in partnership with some of her clients for over 20 years and has fostered valuable long-term working relationships. Now, she is excited to see her younger colleagues progressing and stepping up to take over these high-level partnerships.

“We do a lot of in-house training, and we pass on to our new people all the tricks of the trade we have acquired over the years.

“It is really satisfying when you’ve trained somebody who has come through as a graduate and is now supervising properties. Watching them develop as a consultant and loving what they do is a real pleasure.”



Lee Matheson

Managing Director
Principal Consultant

B.Appl.Sc (Hons), FNZIPIM (Reg)

Lee came to agribusiness consultancy via the unlikely pathway of a suburban Wellington upbringing, an Honours degree in plant science and a six-year career in the financial markets. In his role as the firm’s MD, Lee doesn’t get out on-farm as much as he used to but makes the most of it when he does. While having swapped the paddock for the boardroom, Lee continues to provide advice in the areas of farm business strategy, farm system innovation, corporate governance, investment analysis and economic research.

Outside of Perrin Ag, Lee loves to spend his time coaching rugby, watching his three kids play sport and gardening with his wife Haidee.

“I love the challenge of empowering people in our primary sectors and the excitement of seeing clients achieving their aspirations. If we can encourage farmers to engage with their consumers, take a more active involvement in their supply chains and view their businesses through a wider lens, then I think our industries have a great future.”

Michael Booth

Senior Consultant

B.Com Af (FM)

Mike brings a wealth of agri-tech and dairy systems expertise to Perrin Ag. After graduating with a Bachelor of AgriCommerce from Massey, he started his career with DairyNZ as a consulting officer where he ran discussion groups and managed farm supervision.

He left DairyNZ to travel the world but within a few months Covid hit, the borders closed, and Mike and his wife Nikita returned home. Back in New Zealand, he took up a role managing DairyNZ’s monitor farms on the Hauraki Plains before joining Halter.

After finishing his OE, he returned home to live in Papamoa and joined the Perrin Ag team in February 2024.

“I’m not someone who likes to sit still and I like to be continually learning. I saw an opportunity with Perrin Ag. As a business their ethos is about continuous improvement and learning. There are always new and better ways of doing things and we need to be at the forefront of that for our clients.”

Abbey Dowd

Consultant

B.Ag.Sc (Hons), MNZIPIM

Abbey joined Perrin Ag in February 2023 as part of the firm’s graduate recruitment programme, Empower.

Abbey grew up surrounded by dairy farms in a close-knit community in South Waikato. She saw first-hand how local farmers supported her community, which is what inspired her to study at Lincoln University.

Growing up in a rural community Abbey has always been impressed by how much local farmers contribute to the community. She wanted to help give back to the industry and play a part in helping our primary sector continue to produce quality food in a sustainable way.

In 2022, Abbey spent the summer as an intern on one of New Zealand’s first commercial deer milking operations. Her Honours project was researching deer milk alongside other more traditional milking operations and assessing the deer milking industry’s future production possibilities.

“Growing up I didn’t live on a farm, but I always knew I wanted to work in the farming sector. I wanted a role where there was a balance between working on and off farm and where I could support farmers to get the best out of their businesses.”

Sam Gray

Consultant

Sam grew up on a dairy farm in the Far North. After graduating from the University of Otago in 2005 with an Honours degree in molecular biotechnology, he spent several years working in medical research in New Zealand and Scotland. Upon returning to New Zealand in 2012, he spent four seasons dairy farming in Northland before purchasing a 56 ha block in Taupо̄, where he was first exposed to farming under a nitrogen cap. Sam joined Perrin Ag in 2023 and brings his strong analytical skills that are grounded by a pragmatic approach to problem solving. Outside of farming and consultancy, you’ll likely find him fly fishing, hunting or snowboarding.

“A lot of farmers feel overwhelmed in the face of a rapidly changing regulatory landscape. I strive to help farmers understand what these environmental regulations mean for their business, and offer practical solutions that allow them to keep doing what they do best, whilst remaining compliant”.

Danni Armstrong

Finance administrator

Danni grew up on a life style block in Atiamuri and spent five seasons as a relief milker in the area. During this time, her full time roles were in various fields including the rental car, health care and marine industries. Danni has had a focus on administrative and accounting duties, but is also proficient in looking after customers especially well, social media and website operation, running a rental car fleet and the associated tasks like training, rosters, H&S and organising repairs! Danni joined Perrin Ag in May 2021, to be part of a business in an industry she is passionate about.

During her spare time Danni can be found reading a book with her cats or out enjoying the walks in Rotorua’s Redwoods.

“What motivates me each day is knowing that I will be challenged with a range of problem solving tasks. I love to see all the figures adding up and knowing that my role makes a difference to the team.”

Duncan Walker

Director
Principal Consultant

B.Appl.Sc, MNZIPIM (Reg)

Coming from a drystock and dairy farming background, Duncan has always been passionate about growing primary sector businesses. Whether it’s pastoral farming, forestry, horticulture or investments outside the farm gate, sustainably optimising business performance is Duncan’s passion. After graduating from Massey University with a Bachelor of Applied Science in Agribusiness, Duncan’s first opportunity to optimise a farm business was by undertaking a dairy conversion. Duncan project managed the conversion and continued to run the dairy farm for a further three years.

Since joining Perrin Ag in 2011 Duncan works with a wide range of clients including those ‘outside the farm gate’. With his strong background in investment analysis, business strategy and project management, Duncan is increasingly working with clients to analyse and integrate horticulture and forestry investments into their farm businesses.

“I enjoy helping clients navigate through the complexities of today’s operational, financial and environmental challenges. Seeing clients achieve their goals is very rewarding”

Lee Matheson

Managing Director
Principal Consultant

B.Appl.Sc (Hons), FNZIPIM (Reg)

Lee came to agribusiness consultancy via the unlikely pathway of a suburban Wellington upbringing, an Honours degree in plant science and a six-year career in the financial markets. In his role as the firm’s MD, Lee doesn’t get out on-farm as much as he used to but makes the most of it when he does. While having swapped the paddock for the boardroom, Lee continues to provide advice in the areas of farm business strategy, farm system innovation, corporate governance, investment analysis and economic research.

Outside of Perrin Ag, Lee loves to spend his time coaching rugby, watching his three kids play sport and gardening with his wife Haidee.

“I love the challenge of empowering people in our primary sectors and the excitement of seeing clients achieving their aspirations.  If we can encourage farmers to engage with their consumers, take a more active involvement in their supply chains and view their businesses through a wider lens, then I think our industries have a great future.”