After having gained his LLB and then an M.Com. in Financial Management, Michael was admitted as an attorney in 1996. He then went on to work in the financial world in investment banking and international tax in both Johannesburg and London with Arthur Andersen and Standard Bank. In 2002, he joined Pannar Seed as Commercial & Legal Director, later being appointed as Managing Director. In 2013, he left to join Plennegy as an Executive Director, as well as holding non-executive positions on the boards of the various Plennegy Group operating entities. He is currently the Chairman of the Plennegy Group of family businesses – a role he has held since early 2017. Qualifications: UKZNPmb - B.Com, LLB RAU - M.Com
Colin studied at the University of Cape Town, completing a Bachelor of Business Science in 2004. He joined Investec Bank in 2005 as part of a graduate programme and worked in the Project and Infrastructure Finance team from 2006 to 2014 where he was involved in a number of infrastructure projects across Southern and Sub-Saharan Africa. Colin joined Plennegy as a director in late 2014. He fulfils an executive position at Plennegy, as well as a non-executive position on the boards of the various Group operating entities. With a background in new projects, Colin’s main area of focus is on the new initiatives, business developments and projects within the Group. Qualifications: UCT – Bachelor of Business Science, Finance (Honours)
Bryan Featonby Smith
Bryan has served Starke Ayres for over three decades. After obtaining his PhD in Plant Physiology from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, he started his career as Starke Ayres research manager in 1986. With the company’s significant investment in research and development in vegetable seeds, Bryan was promoted to Research Director in 1994 and oversaw the advancement of nine vegetable breeding programmes. Since 2006, Bryan has been responsible for the overall strategic growth of the company in his capacity as Managing Director. Qualifications: PhD in Plant Physiology – University of KwaZulu-Natal.
In December 2009, Glendon Ascough started his career at Pannar KZN as a Biotechnology Researcher. He then moved on to manage Starke Ayres South Africa’s Biotechnology laboratory – the first lab in Africa to have a high throughput robotic SNP genotyping platform. In 2014, he was promoted to Research Manager of Starke Ayres and then to Research Director in November 2016. Glendon is responsible for overseeing the Research Department which includes biotechnology and pathology research, molecular breeding, genomics research, as well as the team of breeders who are responsible for developing and breeding new vegetable varieties. Qualifications: BSc (Hons) Plant Molecular Biology & Physiology and Genetics; PhD (Botany)
National Sales Director
Frikkie Bam studied at the Technikon of the Frees State completing a National Diploma in Civil Engineering. He joined the Department of Agriculture in 1995 as a lecturer in Engineering at the Glen Agricultural College. Frikkie joined Starke Ayres in 2000 as a sales representative in the Free State area. In 2006 he was promoted to Sales Manager of the Eastern Region. In 2008 he also took over the responsibility as Sales Manager of the Northern Region, Botswana and Namibia. In 2009 he was promoted to National Sales Manager. In 2011 he was appointed as Seed Sales Director of Starke Ayres Seed (PTY). Frikkie is currently responsible for all professional seed sales in South Africa. Qualifications: Nat Dip Civ Eng
Chief Operating Officer
After qualifying as a Chartered Accountant, Greg used his financial background and looked for roles that involved strategy and business performance at both KPMG and Anglo American. With this financial services and mining experience, Greg joined Starke Ayres in 2015 with a focus on special projects and business analysis. He has subsequently been appointed to the board of directors and is now Chief Operating Officer. Qualifications: B.Com Honours in Accountancy – University of Johannesburg, Chartered Accountant (South Africa)
Courtney Field studied at the University of Natal, graduating with a M.SC in Botany in 2001. He worked in the floriculture and horticulture industries for 5 years before joining Starke Ayres in 2006 as a Product Manager. In 2010 Courtney made the move to the Production Department, first as the Production Agronomist and then as Production Manager and subsequently as Production Director from 2012. Courtney oversees the production of all of the Starke Ayres products across the globe. Qualifications: University of Natal (Pmb) – M.SC – Botany
Tony Pollard studied at Durban University, completing a Bachelor of Commerce degree in 1984. He joined Ernst and Young in 1986 where he completed his articles and obtained his Honours degree in Accounting before becoming a CA (SA) in 1989. Tony spent three years with Freshmark in Cape Town before moving overseas and working in London and Sydney until 2000. During his time in Australia he became a member of the institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia. On his return to Cape Town he was appointed as the Financial Director of Puma South Africa before joining Starke Ayres in 2002. Tony is currently the Financial Director of Starke Ayres and Kombat and a Director of Starke Ayres Namibia, Zambia and Kenya. Qualifications: UKZNDbn – B.Com Unisa B.Acc (Honours) CA(SA)
International Sales Director
Nico van Rensburg
Nico graduated at the University of Free State in 1990 with B.Sc Agric Hons. After working for the Department of Agriculture in the Free State, Nico joined Starke Ayres in 1995 as a Regional Technical Advisor and worked with all vegetable species grown in the Free State and Northern Cape. In 1999 Nico was promoted to National Crop Specialist Manager for Cucurbits and two years later he became the National Sales Manager for the Bulk Seed Commercial Market and relocated to Pretoria. In July 2006, Nico was appointed as a Marketing Director and in 2018 he was appointed as the International Sales Director. His main focus is to develop the sales of Starke Ayres proprietary products across key world markets. Qualifications: B.Sc Agric Hons
Danny van der Westhuizen
After having spent over 10 years in logistics and supply chain in the armaments and printing inks industries, Danny joined Starke Ayres in February 1991 as National Procurement Manager. He was promoted to Assistant Operations Manager in March 1996, to National Operations manager in 1998 and was appointed to the board as Operations Director in March 2005. The focus of his portfolio is procurement, quality assurance, seed processing & packing, customer services and distribution. He is also actively involved in the operations of Starke Ayres’s international companies in Africa.