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Cow Talk Cow Talk

“Attitude is e verything...”
Marion Challenor: hows she’s survived be ing the only But despite the dramatic company
growth, the managing director still
believes that its family ethos has
years, but it’s evident that Marion
oozes oodles of this.
“I love the business, always have and
woman in the AI industry been key to its success over the
years.
it’s that passion and positive attitude
that makes you good at what you do
“In a family business there is always and the determination is the back-

D
aughter of celebrated cattle ing a lot of World Wide Sires (WWS)
breeder Fred Williams, Mar- product from the USA and the new that advantage that you really do bone that won’t let you give up.
ion Challenor is a woman acquisition meant that they no longer care what the customer thinks and We’ve faced a lot of difficulties; milk
with attitude and aptitude for busi- needed anyone elses product as they you want to give them the best prod- quotas, BSE, Foot and Mouth and TB
ness and people. had their own.” uct that will give the results they are but we have overcome them and we
Since its modest beginnings in the “There were some merges of AI or- looking for. It’s not just making a sale are still here. Foot and Mouth was
sixties the 43-year-old has taken ganisations, Avoncroft took over it’s doing a good job, it’s as simple as the hardest thing we had to cope with
the business from strength to Herdwise and Black and White Sires, that.” as a company. They’ll be other chal-
strength, building up one of the but after a short period went into liq- Arguably being brought up on farm lenges to come, but we will get over
most successful Artificial Insemi- uidation. At that time they were sell- which boasts one of the bests pedi- them!”
nation companies within the UK at ing the WWS USA product, so WWS gree herds in the UK, has given Mar- “Looking in the future I predict less
present. really had to look at the UK market ion an edge over her competitors, as dairy farmers with bigger units and I
This may be an achievement in it- and decide where they were going to she has had a great insight into the think there will only be three main AI
self, but unbelievably the mother- put their product, where they thought benefits of good genetics. companies left, so I certainly want
of-two also holds the title for being they could get good growth. We were “It’s a huge benefit being a farmers WWS UK to be one of those three
the only woman heading an AI lucky enough to have that opportu- daughter, people sell to people, and and we will be working towards grow-


company and being its majority nity. So in 2001 we signed a contract our team of ing our market share
shareholder within the industry.
Marion first became involved with the
with the USA to sell all of their prod-
uct in this country. It was a turning
salesmen,
evaluators, Just remem- so that we make
sure of that.”
family business at the tender age of
seventeen, joining Semen World Ltd
along with her father Fred who had
already began marketing semen from
point in the history of the company. It
secured our product supply and un-
doubtedly gave us a far greater prod-
uct line than any of our competitors.”
distribution and
administration are
some of the best
people you’ll find
ber attitude is “ But Marion ad-
mits that her sex
had been a dis-
advantage within
two of his formidable sires, Tredene
Jan Alidema and Descales Midnight.
The company has under-gone some
considerable adjustments in the past
worldwide and we
are really proud of everything! the industry over
the years.
“I basically left school, went to col- three years in order to adapt to the them. They know “It’s been a sharp learning curve, it’s
lege for a year to do accountancy change, including bringing in a new they’re cows and they know what a very male-orientated industry and I
and after finishing my course didn’t board of directors and shareholders they’re talking about and connect think it’s taken a long time for our
really have a job to go to, so father and re-locating the business from the very well with the breeders and that’s competitors to realise that I was seri-
suggested working at Semen World family farm to a much larger prem- great!” ous about taking the company for-
in the office. I did it just to tie me over ises where everything is structured Regardless of her accomplishments ward.”
really, but ended up staying 27-years under one roof. the businesswoman remains modest. But despite the difficulties she has
later”, she “With all busi- “I’ve been here for 27 years and we had to endure Marion remains opti-


are now one of the major players,
laughs.
However the late
1990’s saw a big turn
I guess “ nesses you get to
the stage where
you realise that
that’s quite an incredible achieve-
ment, but that’s not just down to me,
mistic about women entering into the
industry.
“Things have changed dramatically in
around for the Ponty-
pool-based company, that’s what you need to imple-
ment many
the success is also down to the peo-
ple who work for us. Also if it wasn’t
for the opportunity that my father
the business world and woman are
just as competent as men. I would
with Marion making a changes to be really push more women into the in-
huge decision which
would later thrust the
I enjoy- the able to cope with
the growth.
gave me it would never have hap-
pened! You always have to remem-
dustry, especially at higher levels, it’s
a very rewarding career and you’re
small business into Changes are al- ber where you started and I’m working alongside great people-
the bigger realms of
the industry.
challenge. ways very difficult
to implement and
grateful to my father for that.”
The company has gone from having
farmers, who really are the salt of the
earth. My advice is just be strong and
“There was a lot of it’s always chal- a small market share in the eighties remain focused. Determination also
turn around when Genius brought lenging, but I guess that’s what I to it becoming a major contender in plays a huge part in anybody’s suc-
ABS [a stud out in the USA] in the enjoy, the challenge. Some find it dif- the industry today. Sheer determina- cess, it doesn’t matter what your
1990’s. Once they had purchased the ficult to endure, but in this industry tion and passion have been funda- going in for. And just remember atti-
stud they owned their own production there is only one guarantee- that mental in getting the company tude is everything!”
facility, prior to that they were market- there will be plenty of challenges!” through turbulent times over the