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Suffolk Show 2019

Bee Kemball spoke to EADT last week after this years Suffolk Show, her last as Show Director.

“What a fantastic two days it has been.

The people are what make this show so great every single year, and that means everyone, from the volunteers, to the staff, to the people who come through the gates beaming with smiles.

It is important people understand the importance of agriculture, how it helps our lives – you should always know where your food comes from, and by doing so it helps keep things to the highest possible standard.

Bee at this years Show

Bee at this years Show

Coming to the end of her three-year tenure, Bee will hand over the baton to deputy director Bruce Kerr – but as she said, that doesn’t mean it will stop her from returning.

Just because I’m standing aside doesn’t mean I won’t be returning to the show I love,” she said. “Next year I suspect I’ll be coming along in my flip flops and sunglasses with an ice cream in hand.

I’ve been involved with the show since I was 18 years old, more than 30 years ago. I still love it just as much.

My father and grandfather were both stewards – the beautiful thing about the show is that it is a generational thing – for both staff and visitors, the joy of the show is passed on.”

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Well done Gino!

 Congratulations to our employee Gino Comini for passing his MOD 4 CPC on his first attempt!

Well done Gino!

Gino with his pass certificate

Gino with his pass certificate

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Suffolk Show Countdown

“Driving lorries and working in logistics is a tough job” says Bee Kemball.

Bee Kemball

Bee Kemball

She should know, having spent her working life at the helm of family logistics business, Debach Enterprises.

 

"It's a very tough job. You have got to be tough to do it - it's very physical," she says. "Because I work in logistics, we live and die by our process."

“It’s a very tough job. You have got to be tough to do it – it’s very physical,” she says. “Because I work in logistics, we live and die by our process.”

She needed to be tough too, and, while taking the wheel at the £8m turnover firm, got her licence to drive the huge HGVs because she felt it important to experience exactly what her workers did.

It’s an ethos she has carried through to her very successful – and highly praised – term as director of the Suffolk Show. As the first woman to take on the three-year role back in 2017, it was a big burden to bear – particularly as she still had her considerable day job to contend with.

But Bee relishes a challenge, and has carried the responsibility lightly, while extracting maximum enjoyment from all aspects of running the county’s biggest bash.

Bee Kemball at the Debach Enterprises HQ

Bee Kemball at the Debach Enterprises HQ

“You have to understand what people do – it’s a bit like the Suffolk Show in that regard,” says the ex-Woodbridge Schoolgirl and Harper Adams university graduate, who is also a wife and mother of teenagers.

“If you are going to understand the process, in doing that, I think that makes you a better leader. It’s when they ask people to do something they have no understanding of themselves. I’m a mum as well, going to agricultural shows. If you can put yourself in other people’s shoes all the time, I think you make better decisions.”

The transport and warehousing business, launched in 1976, grew out of the family’s farming roots, which remain very strong, with Bee’s siblings, John, Sarah and Kate, all involved in different strands of the Kemballs’ multiple operations – including a business park at Bentwaters Airfield – which have sprung out of Wantisden Hall Farm. Unlike many families, the Kemballs have found a way to operate their businesses harmoniously, sharing responsibilities out among their members.

Bee, daughter of Debach’s founder, Bill, has been in post since 1992, overseeing the business’s investment in IT and green technology to make it one of the most forward-thinking in the sector. Today, the business employs 100 staff at Debach, as well as 20 at Bentwaters, and around 15 on the farm at Clopton.

But with the show, she is managing many volunteers as well as members of staff, and working for a charity.

“Those people are giving up their time for free, so you have to motivate those teams and very much get them coming along with you,” she says. “I always think you get to the best decision hearing everyone’s point of view first, even if you don’t agree with it, because then you are taking people with you. I think culturally that hadn’t happened in the past. Maybe it’s because I’m a lady director. I do think, being a women, you do take other people’s opinions on board. I think sometimes there’s a benefit in being a woman boss.”

Bill bought the site at Debach Airfield, extending to about 150,000sq ft, as an ‘insurance policy’ to help ensure the future of the 3,500 acre farming enterprise. With considerable foresight, he had already irrigated his land to ensure the health of his vegetable crops.

The logistics firm, which operates 700,000sq ft of warehousing space around Suffolk, deals with multiple clients from a range of sectors from engine components makers to food manufacturers. It needs to be agile to survive, as commercial storage rates today don’t justify the cost of building warehousing, says Bee. All this requires nimble working – and an ability to steer a big team.

“I would say we are a very typical farming family in that we are quite traditional in our choice of businesses,” she says. “It’s like having eggs in baskets – it’s spreading the balance.”

All the businesses are very balance sheet-focused. They own their own buildings and land, taking out a cost, and they want to employ local people and work with and help other local firms. “We like to do that rather than drive profit,” explains Bee.

She has worked for a big multinational – BirdsEye-Walls – but admits that, while she admires others from the corporate world, it’s not a life she hankers after.

Debach lorry

Debach lorry

“I had kind of done it. but I wouldn’t say I function as well in the corporate world. I enjoy working with people I have worked with for a long time,” she says. “I think the corporate world is very different from where I like to be. I like working in teams – it’s fun.

“Whether it’s doing the Suffolk Show committee or a board meeting at work and talking about planning for a Christmas season coming up, I think they are the best bits of any business. It’s the people you are working with that make it.”

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DEBACH OBTAINS BRC ACCREDITATION

Debach is proud to announce that we have obtained AA certification with the British Retail Consortium for their Global Standard for Storage and Distribution.

A Grade BRC

AA Grade BRC

BRC Global Standards’ guarantee the standardisation of quality, safety and operational criteria and ensure that manufacturers fulfil their legal obligations and provide protection for the end consumer. BRC Global Standards are now often a fundamental requirement of leading retailers, manufacturers and food service organisations.

The certification is reviewed regularly ensuring that standards are met at all times and complements our current service to the retail industry.

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Lisa competes at Essex Masters

On Tuesday 9th April our Finance Manager, Lisa Brereton took part in the Essex Masters 2019 Clay Shooting competition

along with over 10,000 others, including some of the top shooters from around the world.

The competition was at Hempworth Hall in Essex.

Lisa Brereton

Lisa Brereton

 

Lisa scored an impressive 121/200, well done Lisa!

 

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Suffolk Show 2019 Preparation

It’s a bitter-sweet moment preparing for your last show, Suffolk Show director Bee Kemball has admitted.

Bee Suffolk Show

Bee Suffolk Show

Bee, who this year celebrates the final year of her three-year stint at the helm of the county’s biggest and most prestigious annual showcase, was at its home, Trinity Park, for the annual general meeting of the Suffolk Agricultural Association, the farm charity which lies behind the event.

Bee’s two shows to date have been blessed with near-perfect show weather, which has helped to ensure a very healthy turnout, although it was her drive and her organisational skills that were heavily praised this week.

Bee Kemball, Suffolk Agricultural Association show director, with, from left, Bill Kemball, president elect; Stephen Miles, new president; Simon Tucker, new treasurer; and Bruce Kerr, deputy show director

Bee Kemball, Suffolk Agricultural Association show director, with, from left, Bill Kemball, president elect; Stephen Miles, new president; Simon Tucker, new treasurer; and Bruce Kerr, deputy show director

“She has had two amazing shows. This system we have of changing our show directors every three years must be right, but she keeps coming up with new ideas,” said SAA chair David Nunn, as he thanked the logistics boss for her “tremendous” efforts.

Andrew Fairs, her deputy last year, said: “Every single year, Bee has driven, driven, driven,” as he was thanked in turn for his efforts.

The SAA’s 188th AGM, on Monday, February 25, saw farmer Bruce Kerr installed as Bee’s deputy – effectively his apprenticeship before his own three-year term as show director. He will begin preparations for next year’s event on Friday, May 31, the day after this year’s show ends.

“You are still passionately involved and wanting everything to go right, but also sad it’s the last one, but ready to hand over to your successor,” said Bee. The third year was very much a ‘joint experience’ with her successor, she added.

Bee Kemball

Bee Kemball

Stephen Miles, a show stalwart involved for many years in running the show’s hugely popular flower and garden area, was voted in as president, taking over the reins from Baroness Hazel Byford.

His father took the role in 1994, he recalled, and as far as he himself was concerned, it was a great honour.

“I have got to know a huge amount of people, made a huge amount of friends, and my father before me,” he said. As a trustee of the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution (RABI), he would continue to highlight the plight of farming families in need, including in Suffolk, one of the top four counties in the country in terms of demand, he said. He is joined by Bill Kemball, Bee’s father, who becomes president-elect for the 2019 show.

Bill said he was “very proud”, “honoured” and “flattered” to have been chosen, and especially in following in his own father’s footsteps (president in 1993) in taking up the role. Bill started stewarding in 1959, around the time the SAA adopted its permanent home in Ipswich.

“During that time I have had a lot of fun,” he said. “I have got to know a lot of people I would not have otherwise met,” he said.

He added: “Jane and I are particularly proud to the extent of my family’s involvement with the Suffolk Show, and I’m particularly proud of my daughter, Bee.”

Bee Kemball, show director, speaks during the Suffolk Agricultural Association's AGM.

Bee Kemball, show director, speaks during the Suffolk Agricultural Association’s AGM.

Bee thanked the SAA for its kind words. “It’s huge team effort,” she said. The 2018 show had welcomed 90k visitors, and although the weather predictions weren’t great, it had basked in good weather last year. She thanked her father for putting together a ‘looking back’ area of vintage farm machinery to help show-goers understand how the industry had evolved.

Among the records set last year were ones for the amount of trade stands and sponsorship, she said.

She had also been keen to ensure there were plenty of free activities and displays for showgoers to enjoy. “I do believe very passionately that that’s what gets our visitors back to our show,” she said.

Preparations were already well advanced for this year’s show on May 29 and 30, with 95% of trade stands already sold. Catering stands were already sold out, as were the agricultural machinery stands.

Among the attractions this year would be a high viewing platform, and an “amazing” agricultural exhibition by farmer Brian Barker, who is putting together the story of oilseed production.

There was a “very exciting” increase in younger membership, but more work needed to be done to engage with members, she said. Behind the scenes, works had been carried out on irrigation at the showground, and other improvements, including to roadways.

The SAA said goodbye to Loudon Greenlees, its longstanding treasurer of 10 years, who has stepped down, but will continue to volunteer as a steward.

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Christmas Jumper 2018

Well done to all Debach Staff that joined in on Christmas Jumper Day 2018 and for those that donated to Save the Children – Thank you. We raised an amazing £436.

Save the Children

Save the Children

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New Trucks

Last week we took delivery of two new Volvo FH Trucks to further expand our fleet.

New Trucks

New Trucks

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New Trailer

On Friday we took delivery of our new 44ft Trailer

Ransomes Trailer

Ransomes Trailer

This Trailer will be used for our Ransomes Contract.

New Trailer

New Trailer

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100 DAYS TILL THE SUFFOLK SHOW

This year is Bee Kemball’s third and final year as Suffolk Show Director!

Suffolk Show 2019

Suffolk Show 2019

Last week marked 100 days until the Suffolk show which Bee has said she is “thrilled” at the line-up and that excitement is already building as organisers prepare to welcome visitors.

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