a cosy conversation with true team member Brian Knight

Brian Knight is our resident clever clogs. As Innovation Manager at The True Honey Co. Brian’s gig is coming up with inventive ways to keep our operations humming along: and making sure that what we do is streamlined, safe and kind to bees and the environment.

Born and raised in Dannevirke, Brian had a fair few jobs as a youngster. With an engineer/pilot for a father, it was natural that Brian would turn his capable hands to building, fixing and flying – qualifying as a motorcycle engineer and gaining a helicopter licence. Later, as the maintenance and project manager of a start-up specialising in custom liquid fertiliser, Brian helped design and commission factories, as well as specialised equipment for truck and trailer units and helicopters.

Married to childhood sweetheart Maria for 10 years, the couple shares a home with their five-year-old son (who Brian thinks is just the bee’s knees) the family dog, ‘far too many’ cats and two lambs. We caught up with Brian this month to talk hive gadgets, drones and a newfound love for our hardworking little critters.

Describe a day in the life of Brian Knight.
Currently my work days consist of mainly office work. A constant flow of emails, meetings and phone calls. Lots of planning and looking ahead. I also work very hard on managing our bulk honey stocks, carrying out the maturing, testing and sales. I’m also involved in all aspects of the company (production, inventory, processing, marketing, staff etc.) and try to add value to all these areas when and where I can. I still often get back out on the coal face in the field, which is great, as too many hours in the office and I go crazy. Because we’re still growing, we have a lot of projects on the go. So I’m very much involved in a lot of these, which is really cool as I love all the challenges they present.

Which innovations are you most proud of?
I have had a fair bit to do with lots of little things: custom hive doors, floors and heli pallets for the hives, as well as some cool gear for our beekeepers and vehicles. Then some bigger projects like TrueView (online technology to monitor all aspects of Manuka honey production giving our landowner partners traceability and transparency). Also, the building of our processing and packing plant is something I’m very proud of.

Tell us about a piece of technology you’re obsessed with right now?
Drones (little flying things with cameras on them). With my passion for flying and our desire to capture the beautiful places we work, I have been taking our drone around the country and getting a good library of video footage. We’ll be releasing these on our social media platforms to show honey lovers and our partners the magical things we do each day. Stand by…

How long have your worked for The True Honey Co.?
Right from the start (four years now)!

What do you love about your role?
Harvesting high grade Manuka honey from remote locations is a fun and interesting challenge. I helped build and mould the company into what it is today and feel very proud of what we’ve achieved and grateful for the opportunity Jim (the CEO) has given me. My primary role in the company up until late last year was the Logistics Manager, doing the day to day planning to manage operations safely and seamlessly during the busiest eight months of the year. During the winter months, I process and pack our Manuka honey. I also manage our honey inventory.

What are your plans/inspirations for The True Honey Co.?
As part of The True Honey Co. we’ve discovered a real opportunity to make a difference in the honey industry.  I feel we have built the foundation for an amazing company moving forward. It’s been a really cool journey so far and we’re only just beginning. I’d like to see The True Honey Co. continue to grow at a pace that allows us to excel. For the production side of the company, I see us continuing to produce pure, high-grade Manuka honey from the most pristine locations around New Zealand by using innovative systems, procedures and equipment. A continued focus on bee health and hive strength is also very important. We have a great team of beekeepers and management staff, so I hope we can keep building on that into the future. For the marketing side of the company we have exciting times ahead, we are exploring introducing new products and more market channels so consumers can enjoy our authentic Manuka honey all around the world.

How do you use your Manuka honey?
Typically on my toast in the morning as my daily fix (300+MGO), then I will take regular teaspoons full (850+MGO) if I feel a sickness or cold coming on. Recently I have been using it like a slow release energy shot while I’m riding my dirt bike, which seems to work well.

What do you like to do in your spare time?
I love to spend my downtime time with my Family (building Lego with my son), doing renovations on our house, dirt bike riding, tinkering around with my hobbies and relaxing!

Tell us something no-one else knows about you.
To be honest, up until The True Honey Co. was born, I never liked bees, due to some bad childhood memories of being stung and regularly being attacked by wasps at primary school as there were lots of nests nearby. Since learning about bees and how honey is made, I have complete respect for these amazing insects and they never fail to surprise me.

What lessons have you learned by working with bees?
We can learn a lot from honeybees and their ethics. They are very social, calm, clean, intelligent and get a lot of very productive work done in a very short time. Everything they produce/collect has some benefit to us as humans: including honey, propolis, pollen, royal jelly, venom and wax. We can harvest some of these treasures from the beehives and they can still live happily as a colony; it’s incredible really!

Please sum up your personal philosophy.
Work Hard, get your hands dirty, always do the best you can, have goals and dreams, exercise, inspire, focus, respect, forgive, don’t freak out, love and smile.