Born on 18 May 1954, Kallie Schoeman grew up on the family farm Witklip in Delmas. He is the middle child of three and shared care-free days on the farm with his older sister Madel and younger brother Christiaan. Kallie matriculated from High School Delmas in 1971 and went on to complete his military service in Kimberley. Kallie enrolled to study B.Sc. Agriculture at the University of Pretoria and makes light of his lack of academic interest by saying “I made an intense study of the social behavioural aspects of students. It is standing me in good stead to this day.”
He decided to discontinue his studies, which coincided with the untimely death of his brother. Kallie joined his father at Schoeman and reported for his first day on 14 November 1974.
His father insisted that he be given no special treatment and he was given a piece of land to cultivate vegetables for their farmstalls. He learnt to grow lettuce, tomatoes, cabbage, and beetroot. His vegetable garden is a beloved hobby to this day.
He was appointed manager of the farm Moabsvelden in 1975 after the farm manager suffered a heart attack, and soon after also managed the farms Welgevonden and Leeuwpan. In 1978, at the age of only 24, his father approached him to become the Managing Director of the farming business.
When Kallie took over as Managing Director the business had a heavy debt burden, and he set out to find a solution. On the advice of prof. Eckart Kassier, an Agricultural Economist at the University of Stellenbosch, Kallie realised that the business did not have enough focus. He decided to cease farming with anything that contributed less than 10% to the business.
Because his grandfather was the pioneer of table grapes in the Transvaal decades ago, one of the most difficult decisions he had to make was to phase out table grapes in favour of citrus. The last grapes were removed in 1996. The consolidation of the crops, livestock, and citrus spanned quite a few years and even included the birth of new business divisions such as the grain handling facilities in Delmas and the Agron fertilizer plant. (Now Trifert)
The strategy worked and exactly four years later Kallie Schoeman walked into the bank and paid off all their debt. The business was in the green and he could start building the legacy of Schoeman and run it as a cash business. The philosophy to this day is centered around liquidity, except when they acquire new land. Kallie expanded Schoeman to ten times the size of the business he started with in 1978.
Such a task does not only require hard work, dedication, grace, and faith, it also needs a reliable soundboard. Kallie met his wife Elna in 1978 and they got married on 22 September 1979. She left teaching and devoted her life to the family and farming business and the Delmas community. They have one son, Hendrik, who is now the CEO of Moosrivier.
Kallie speaks about the importance of sustainability and diversification. “We must earn forex, stay the cheapest producer who always has the consumer in mind, hedge ourselves against political risk and always be agile. We must be citizens of our country who contribute to the health of our society. I love South Africa, the Blue Bulls, having a braai, Afrikaans, and above all the Lord. I’m humbled by the grace we’ve received and the beautiful life I’m having the privilege to live.”