How Farm Costing Solutions became the top player in its field
Over the past two decades, Farm Costing Solutions (FCS) has grown from a small one-man outfit into one of the most respected companies in its field. The company’s technology allows farm managers to electronically record and manage all costs on a farm, saving significant time and improving productivity.
FCS was started by Fritz Wesson. Before he ventured out on his own he worked as engineering manager at the Cape Town branch of UK-based TR Services, one of the top labour management technology companies at the time.
When TR Services started installing its products on farms, Wesson recognised a significant gap in the market to better service the agricultural industry. “The available systems didn’t match what the farmers needed. I saw an opportunity for myself to come up with a better solution,” says Wesson.
He began working day and night on perfecting his electronic farm labour management system, and in 1994 registered the company as West Coast Data & Comm’s. At that stage the company focused purely on time and attendance, piece work, job costing and payroll. Wesson worked closely with farm managers to identify their exact needs.
Wesson quickly established himself as the data collection expert within the agricultural industry. He attributes the company’s early growth to the fact that it customised its software at no cost to each farm’s individual needs – something it still does today. To communicate the company’s ambitions of expanding beyond the West Coast region, Wesson changed the name to Time Management Solutions (TMS). TMS went on to install systems for some of South Africa’s biggest farming enterprises such as Dutoit Group, De Keur, Fruitways (Melsetter) Namibian Grape Company and Capespan. Signing up these large companies was a tipping point for the company. “
“Soon everyone realised we can handle the big players in the market. Some of these companies have up to 8,000 workers on their books.”
Wesson says most of the new generation of farm managers don’t want to struggle with paperwork, and see technology as a way to run their businesses more efficiently.
A one-stop solution for all costs on the farm
However, Wesson realised that farmers were looking for a solution that covers all costs on the farm, not only labour. In 2012, TMS merged with Crest Software, which provides software to manage a variety of other costs, including payroll, spraying, fertilisation and fuel, to name a few.
The combined entity was renamed Farm Costing Solutions (Pty) Ltd. “Now we can give farmers the total cost of everything that is happening on the farm under one umbrella,” notes Wesson.
Labour is by far the highest expense on most fruit farms. With South Africa’s recent farm worker wage increases, this has become an even more important cost to watch, and farmers need to ensure that workers perform at optimum productivity. “Most horticultural farms have a huge number of workers, and they can easily source new people. They don’t have to struggle with unproductive workers.
Every day our system gives managers a report that allows them to identify the weak teams and take action immediately.”
“We have done very well over the past years,” says Wesson. “Our 22-strong team is dedicated to ensure that our clients receive the best service possible.” When Wesson is not at the office he enjoys fishing, diving and sailing. He is currently also refurbishing an old yacht. He is optimistic about the company’s future, and says its developers are constantly innovating to ensure that FCS stays ahead of the game.
For more information about how your business can benefit from TMS, contact Val Harker at: Landline: +27 (0)21 556 2561 Cellphone: +27 (0)82 518 2300 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org www.tms.za.net