THE YOUNG ENTREPRENEUR WHO BEAT THE ODDS TO BECOME A MAJOR PLAYER IN AGRICULTURE

Written on the 16 October 2017 by Amanda Williams

THE YOUNG ENTREPRENEUR WHO BEAT THE ODDS TO BECOME A MAJOR PLAYER IN AGRICULTURE

RESILIENCE is one of the most powerful tools in business and young entrepreneur Robert Trenchard is living proof of this.

Trenchard, the 35-year-old founder of Hydrox Technologies, bounced back from two major business killers beyond his control to become the major player in the Australian agricultural plastics market.

His story began with a family business in the plastics trade where he modified old equipment bought at auctions to be the first in the world to make oxo-biodegradable dry-cleaning film.

"Upon recognising the impact of plastic bags on the environment we converted our equipment to produce biodegradable shopping bags, but we soon came under severe competition from Chinese imports," says Trenchard.

It was the first major setback for the inventor who saw an opportunity to shake things up by developing new products in the agriculture space.

"I could see there were efficiencies and improvements that could be made for farmers," he says.

"Among these were a banana bunch cover that reduced the amount of plastic by 20 percent, a patent for a new type of biodegradable 'ultra-thin' mulch film and a machine which would produce thinner stronger plastic mulch films."

At this point, Trenchard's business began to really take off but the success was short-lived with the biggest setback of his career about to fall out of the sky, quite literally.

His office and warehouse filled up with three meters of water during the Brisbane floods in 2011, and all of his machinery was destroyed.

"Our insurance did not cover riverine flooding, and we didn't have the resources to recover all the machinery we had just invested in expanding, so we had to send 80 tons of metal to scrap."

The business was placed into administration in 2012 and closed two years later despite plans to salvage through a newly formed partnership.

Four months later, Trenchard made his biggest comeback yet, using his credit cards to start-up Hyrdrox Technologies.

"In March of 2015, I launched Solar Shrink, the new and unique mulch film product which I have developed and now patented," he says.

"Mulch films can increase crop yields by more than 200 percent. It prevents weeds, reduces water consumption and extends farmers growing seasons."

"Solar Shrink is a thinner, stronger and cheaper product which shrinks tightly to the bed, preventing water loss and damage to the seedlings."

The comeback was his best yet, and by June 2016 Hydrox Technologies had captured 40 percent of the market share, and the plant was operating 24 hours a day, five days a week.

Looking to the future, Trenchard has his sights on becoming a global company by licensing the technology for Solar Shrink Mulch Film to manufacturers all over the world.

A global patent has been filed over the technology and trials are underway on farms in the USA, a market with a value of more than $1 billion.

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Author: Amanda Williams

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