Fifth generation farmer, Bob Mac Smith, has seen his fair share of ups and downs as he, his brother and their families have transformed their farm into an industry. But the challenges of building a business were nothing compared to his personal challenge when a skin check revealed a melanoma. When Bob’s local relationship manager and financial planner at Westpac heard the news, they swung into action to see what they could do to help.
Bob Mac Smith’s family has farmed the New South Wales Central Tablelands for five generations.
When Bob and his brother, Peter, took over the reins of the family farm in Cudal in country NSW they tried different things, from growing rockmelons and canola to running cattle. They soon saw the potential of expanding their business beyond simply growing canola to pressing the seed to extract its valued oil. In 1991, the brothers set up a small processing plant on their farm.
This was the turning point for the Mac Smith family as they transformed their farm into a vertically integrated business. And Westpac supported them at every step.
“In the 90s we realised that despite our hard work, we weren’t getting very far with just growing canola seed alone. So we spoke to our relationship manager at Westpac about establishing our business and investing in equipment. Despite the risks, he saw the value in what we were trying to do,” Bob said.
“That was a big step, an important step in getting us to where we are today.”
In 2005, Bob and Peter joined forces with the Manildra Group of companies to create MSM Milling, a fully integrated seed crushing and oil refining plant in the township of Manildra. Today, with a team of 60 employees, the company transforms canola seed, direct from Australian farmers, into canola oil and meal products. MSM Milling sells products to major food manufacturers, distributors, stock feeders and individuals across Australia and internationally.
“Westpac has been a key part of our story. They understand our strategy and the long term plans we have for our business. They’re fully supportive of the direction we’re heading in and continue to help us grow.”
In 2014, Bob received some bad news when a skin check revealed he had melanoma.
“Over the years, I’ve spent a lot of time outdoors. I hadn’t had a skin check in a while and my wife, Nic, insisted I see the doctor,” said Bob.
“Things moved pretty quickly from that point. Soon after the appointment, I got the call. And before I knew it I was in Sydney in surgery,” said Bob.
In a small town, news travels fast. And when Tony Rodd, Bob’s Westpac relationship manager heard the news, he talked to Hamish McDouall, Bob’s financial planner, about his insurance cover. They worked out that in addition to his trauma insurance policy, Bob was eligible for another claim.
“The situation couldn’t have been handled better. Tony pointed out the second claim and he and Hamish came over to help me with the paperwork. That kind of relationship adds a lot of credibility, a lot of trust,” said Bob.
While Bob’s melanoma was advanced, it was successfully removed and he has now been in remission for over two and a half years. Bob donated the money from his second claim to the Melanoma Institute of Australia (MIA) to fund much needed medical equipment.
“Machinery and technology have helped us develop our business, and I hope this gesture will help the MIA to invest in equipment that will help others. There are some amazing people making real advances in the fight against melanoma,” said Bob.
“Going for that skin check saved my life and if I could offer one piece of advice, it would be to have a regular check-up.”