AFGRI Equipment finalises the acquisition of Ag Implements

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AFGRI Equipment has taken all the former Ag Implements yards under its control and now operates the second biggest John Deere franchise in Australia with 19 retail yards

AFGRI completes its purchase of long-time sparring partner Ag Implements to control 98% of all John Deere farm equipment sold in WA

AFGRI is a pin-up example of how John Deere wants to operate its retail franchises moving forward.

The franchises must be BIG. And have untold resources to invest in constant improvements in technology, with experts on hand for current advice on every aspect of farming.

This expansion by AFGRI is the tip of the growth that John Deere is prepared to back. And some industry pundits see a future where only two John Deere franchises will operate in Australia.

One in the west and another in the east.

Split straight down the middle at the Victorian South Australian border these two giant franchises would have the volume to buy product at more competitive pricing and save substantially on parts warehousing.

And even fly-in staff from other branches if servicing was clogged at any particular location.

We are already part of the way to this scenario.

AFGRI Equipment with 19 yards across the west, only has a few other yards standing in its way between is current locations and the Victoria/SA border line.

We will do the sums for you, there are only 19 more yards to secure to control every John Deere tractor and piece of farm equipment sold in the line west of the Victoria/SA border.

In WA itself, Harvey Farm Services is the only other John Deere farm equipment dealer.

Family owned, the business operates from two branches, Harvey and Bunbury. And is now facing enormous pressure to withstand the might of the AFGRI yards pivoted all around its two ocean edge locations.

Let’s refresh ourselves with the way WA tumbled to the AFGRI quest for John Deere farm equipment franchise supreme power.

AFGRI, a private company that started over 90 years ago in South Africa got its foothold into Australia as recently as 2004 with the acquisition of T & H Walton’s three yards.

And while the Walton’s John Deere franchise was seen as one of the strongest in WA, nobody took much notice.

It was after the subsequent change in name to AFGRI Equipment in 2013, when the AFGRI juggernaut started its roll. Jolly & Sons was acquired in 2015 taking the AFGRI yard count up to five, while Greenline Ag slipped quietly into the fold in 2016 taking the count to 11, followed by Ratten & Slater’s three yards in 2017, for 14 retail yards.

AFGRI was already operating from 14 yards when it finalised its long drawn out bid to take over its main John Deere retail opposition, Ag Implements who ran its six stores very tightly and was always prepared to do a deal for its customers.

With all regulatory approvals in place, including the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB), the Ag Implement deal went ahead as planned on the 16 July 2021. AFGRI all but controlled John Deere farm machinery sales in WA.

With its better understanding of what makes other John Deere dealers tick, and what it takes to shift them from long-held stomping grounds, AFGRI can now look east. Well to the Victoria/SA border line at least.

Next in line are some very long-standing South Australian dealers that already agreed to John Deere’s request to expand several years ago.

Prime among these is Pringles Crouch formed from an amalgamation of two opposition companies Crouch Rural and Pringles Ag Plus in 2012, to create a five-yard operation, with branches in Wudinna, Kimba, Cleve, Cummins and Crystal Brook.

And while Pringles Crouch is seen as one of South Australia’s most trusted John Deere farming equipment dealers, the company has not added any further branches since 2012.

Another play that took place in 2015 would be at the top of AFGRI’s wish list. The Emmetts machinery takeover of Rosenberg Machinery Group Holdings (RMGH).

RMGH was a third generation family run business with dealerships in six locations, Kadina, Murray Bridge, Parndana (Kangaroo Island), Pinnaroo, Renmark and Roseworthy.

And while RMGH employed more than 100 staff, the Emmetts branch branding appeared to change overnight, RMGH was no more.

Emmetts was on a roll, the company added the six SA locations to its existing four branches in Victoria, but it wasn’t finished there.

With a John Deere directive to flush out any lone wolf operations, Emmetts acquired Paech Motors at Oakbank in the Adelaide Hills in March 2018, to fill in some of the geography between the Emmetts locations.

From a four dealership group in 2015, Emmetts yard count had moved to 11 within just three years, albeit with seven of those on the western side of the imaginary two-dealer only John Deere line.

Other single yard John Deere dealerships in SA include Ceduna Machinery that also runs a top Toyota dealership, and Eglington Bros in Maitland that relies heavily on its John Deere franchise.

In addition, there is Metropolitan Machinery at Cavan that caters more for small and specialist land holders with a big emphasis on commercial ride-on mower. 

The final John Deere farm equipment franchise in SA is Wickham Flower and it almost seems to be the sweetest take-over of all, for any of the fore mentioned dealers, let alone AFGRI. 

With branches at Bordertown, Keith, Mt Gambier and Naracoorte Wickham Flower is on the line that distinguishes the west from the east, the Victoria/SA border, and takes the John Deere farm equipment franchisees to 19 on the western side.

Venturing over the border to the east, is almost another country, and the stomping ground of another international player RDO Equipment with a string of 29 John Deere farm equipment and other yards under its control.

RDO Equipment first popped up in Australia in 2012 when it acquired a 50% interest in John Deere farm equipment dealer Vanderfield. Later to take full control by 2019.

Then in October 2020 RDO announced it had finally wrestled the 11 Chesterfield yards from the Pennefather family that held control for over 50 years.

The RDO Australia Group is already part of one of the world’s biggest John Deere and Vermeer equipment dealers and encompasses Vermeer Australia, Vanderfield and RDO Equipment.

The RDO Australia Group claims to employ over 700 staff across the 29 branches it controls. So now may not be the time for AFGRI to be looking further than the Victoria/SA border line.

Hands on at AFGRI is operations director Gollie Coetzee conducting an apprentice induction day – Gollie has been instrumental in the success AFGRI has attained in WA

AFGRI Equipment to grow staff complement with latest expansion

With the recent acquisition of Ag Implements, now is a fantastic time to join the AFGRI Equipment team. With 19 locations across the wheatbelt, the AFGRI branch network across Western Australia continues to grow and evolve.

AFGRI is on a drive to maintain and improve service delivery at all their dealerships across the state. In efforts to achieve this, they aim to grow staff numbers in all areas of our business.

In addition to current vacancies, new roles will be created in efforts to ensure we continue to provide a high level of service to AFGRI customers. From parts to sales, service to business support there is likely to be an opportunity where your skills are well-suited.

AFGRI offer competitive renumeration packages with excellent career progression opportunities.

As a high-performance agricultural company with branch locations throughout rural WA, now is the perfect time to join the AFGRI team. Be sure to keep up to date with announcements on new positions and vacancies in the coming days – available at the following link.

For more information, contact HR Manager Matt Rigby direct on tel: 08 6274 2400 or email hrsupport@afgri.com.au today.