Customvac sells to Canadian Walinga

Customvac Head Office
Customvac Head Office

Grain handling equipment specialist, Customvac Australia, has transferred ownership to its Canadian supplier in a succession plan. Source: North Queensland Register

Customvac founder, Jim Sampson will continue in his role as resident director and national sales manager while the company becomes a subsidiary of Ontario headquartered Walinga.

Walinga Australia managing director Paul Broekema said a long-standing alliance between the two parties underpinned the new arrangement.

“The business will still operate under the Customvac Australia name but trade under Walinga Australia,” he said.

“Jim is still the frontman and commercial director. It’s business as usual with only small changes in the backroom.”

Customvac Australia has its main factory in Toowoomba, Queensland; a small factory in Perth, WA; a sales and service representative based in Victoria; and a client base that now extends throughout Australia and into New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and South-East Asia.

The company specialises in a range of pneumatic grain management equipment, such as aerators, grain controllers and cleaners, and feed industry services such as truck fit-outs, trailers and feed mill grain handling systems.

Mr Sampson and wife, Bonnie Hymers, formed Customvac Australia in 1983 following a trip to an agricultural trade show in Canada.

“I came across the Walinga Agri-Vac grain handling machine that uses pneumatic conveying with an air pump to suck grain out of a bin or silo to fill a truck,” he said.

When the business started, one Australian dollar would buy $1.21 Canadian. A little over 12 months later, a change of government and the floating of the Australian currency saw the dollar drop to the mid-60 cents mark.

In another challenge to the fledgling business, import duties were initially 7.5%, but suddenly lifted to 30%.

“We looked at how we could import the machines and stay in business without having to put an astronomical price increase on them,” Mr Sampson said.

“We decided to bring the machines in a knockdown form and assemble them here.

“As long as we brought more components in than we could build machines we could import them with some of the component parts being free from duty.

“The highest single part component at the time was 25% duty. All up, it averaged about 12%,” he said.

“And the freight cost went down because we could fit more in a container.”

Mr Broekema said there were very strong parallels in the farm machinery markets in Canada and Australia. Fewer, larger players and ongoing consolidation was occurring and there was a different approach to buying machinery to the past.

“The younger generation is totally linked in,” he said. “So we see the emphasis at field days shifting to dealing with people who have done their homework before they come to a field day.

“They know what they want and they come to you directly with the message: ‘This is the price I want on this equipment’,” he said.

The process from initial contact to result has also been shortened.

“That is what we are seeing in North America and Australia, and around the word,” he said.