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Goldacres 40-year Celebrations

Goldacres 40 Years

We were pleased to join in the 40-year anniversary celebrations of Goldacres in late February at their Ballarat site.  They are a valued customer who we have worked with for over 13+ years. They have quite an amazing story to tell which they have kindly supplied below.

“In the late 1960’s Mr Edward Richards started a small retail business dealing in motor vehicles, fuels, oils, wool buying and general farm machinery in the small central Victorian town of St. Arnaud.

St. Arnaud was founded in the gold rush era and was a very prosperous community. The town is also surrounded by good farmland and at this time the local economy was quite strong, resulting in the business prospering. However in late 1960’s Mr Richards was fatally injured in a car crash, leaving behind his two son’s John and Edward.

At this time John who was in his early 20’s was working in Melbourne as a junior accountant, some 250km away. Not wanting to let the business finish he decided to move back to St. Arnaud and take over. 

Over the next few years John toiled away with the business and slowly started to grow the range of products offered, which now included hay making and light tillage equipment to service the local area.

It was around this time that herbicides started to become a popular alternative to mechanical weed control and John saw a gap in the market for a robust, purpose built sprayer. And so in 1978 the first sprayer was built and the Goldacres name created.

The move into spray equipment could not have come at a better time and many local farmers were keen to try out the new technology. As a result demand outstripped supply, John decided to focus purely on sprayers and drop the other product lines. A major expansion of the existing facility was also undertaken.

Then disaster struck the Eastern parts of Australia in 1982-1983 with severe drought conditions and interest rates hovering around 18%. Victoria was hardest hit, leaving Goldacres in a very serious situation.

However, when things are at their worst, they are often at their best.

At this point John decided that if Goldacres were to survive then he had to diversify the range and look further from the St. Arnaud base and start appointing dealers across Australia to sell his product.

The strategy worked and after many hard years of effort and plenty of miles driven Goldacres sprayers started making their way on to farms across Australia.

It must be acknowledged at how hard it was at the time, there were no mobile phones, the internet did not exist, and neither did a basic computer. To source components involved hours of driving, using payphones and phone books. International travel took several days and communication almost impossible. But through the challenges the Goldacres brand prospered.

By the late 1980’s Goldacres employed 18 staff at the St. Arnaud site.

Through the 1990’s the company was producing almost 2 Prairie sprayers per day in the peak selling period which was January through till June, as well as a range of three point linkage and 12 volt sprayers. In the later part of the year production switched to horticulture sprayers, with models such as the director and rowcrop series proving popular.

It was also a time when John’s two sons had started to take an interest in the business. The oldest, Roger, embarked on an engineering degree in Ballarat, while Stephen pursued an Ag science degree at Longerenong. After finishing, both joined Goldacres on a full time basis, Roger in Engineering, Stephen head of spare parts.

Also around this time saw changes in the type of sprayers being used across Australia. Bigger capacity, 8000L Prairies were becoming common place, wider booms and more efficient operation was required. Self-propelled sprayers were starting to be used, and Western Australian farmers were very early adopters of these, with many importing their own from the USA.

This led to extensive research into the self-propelled sprayer market including visits to four major US manufacturers, after much debate it was decided that Goldacres would engineer and build its own.

This is a major turning point in the history of Goldacres and one that could not have predicted at the time the importance of that decision.

The early 2000’s saw steady development of the self-propelled sprayer model which at the time the cab chassis were being built in a small rented factory in Ballarat and then driven to St. Arnaud where the tanks, plumbing and booms were all fitted. It would soon become apparent that Goldacres had outgrown the St. Arnaud site.

In 2004 a purpose built facility incorporating a large office complex was constructed on the outskirts of Ballarat. After 26 years, Goldacres now had a second home.

But shortly after drought conditions struck again and orders for trailed sprayers dropped dramatically. At this point of low sprayer production it was decided that trailed sprayers greater than 3000L would be built in Ballarat along side the self-propelled sprayer range, and the smaller products which included 12V, 3PL and trailed sprayers with capacity of up to 2500L be built at the St. Arnaud site. With the downturn in sales an all new Prairie Advance model was redesigned in readiness for when the seasons returned, and this occurred in spectacular fashion when an order influx of 250 plus trailed sprayers was taken in just a few months.

As the trend for larger farm holdings continued across Australia so did the desire to own self-propelled sprayers. No longer was the trailed sprayer the mainstay of the Goldacres range. In less than a decade the self-propelled sprayer would represent more than 50% of the company turn over. No longer was Goldacres competing with just other Australian trailed sprayer manufacturers, but Global giants!

In the last 6 years Goldacres has been forced to make radical changes. The product range has increased dramatically to suit other markets within Australia, we have had to change the way sprayers are designed and built in order to stay competitive. We have a team of 160 people across 2 sites focused on sprayers. Our engineering and R & D team has quadrupled, the production team includes a dedicated quality and continuous improvement department. The production facilities have expanded. Our dealer and customer support division helps keep thousands of sprayers in the field going. We use the latest in 3D cad software and ERP manufacturing systems. We are investing heavily in the transformation of the Ballarat site to further improve the manufacturing efficiency, safety for our staff and the ability to build sprayers that Australian farmers require.

Thankyou Australia for making the first 40 years great, we look forward to what the next 40 will bring.”

We congratulate the Goldacres team on this milestone and wish them continued success over the next 40 years.

Pictured in the photo from left to right are Matt Peterson (ATT), Stephen Richards (Sales & Marketing Operations Manager-Goldacres) and David Naughton (ATT).