LIVESTOCK exporter Wellard announced this week it is diversifying its operations to include machinery dealerships.
In a move which caught the farm mechanisation industry by surprise, the company announced it had formed a partnership with Landpower Australia, distributor of European manufacturing giant Claas.
Wellard's first move will be to take over ownership and operation of the Claas Harvest Centre in Katanning.
According to Wellard Agri general manager Tim Macnamara, more dealerships will be opened next year in Perth, Wongan Hills and Geraldton.
"We currently are looking for mechanics and sales staff for the new outlets which we hope will come on-stream early in the new year," he said.
According to Mr Macnamara, the move by Wellard Agri to embrace a machinery dealership arm is a natural synergy with the company's other operations.
"We currently crop around 19,000 hectares (47,000ac) on properties at Kojonup and Watheroo and machinery is a vital component of our operations, for both cropping and livestock," he said.
"There are a lot of synergistic advantages with our new venture and it also will enable us to be involved in research and development of the Claas machines.
"Initially we will focus on the Claas and Amazone line of products but we will have access to the full product family under Landpower."
The main Claas products will be the Lexion combine harvesters and Claas tractors, including Xerion, Axion, Arion and Axos models along with Claas green-line forage harvesting equipment and Amazone spreading, tillage and cultivation equipment.
Landpower Australia director Merv George said the new alliance with the 30-year-old Wellard company underscored Landpower's long-term commitment to WA.
"What drew us to this partnership were Wellard's length of service and its phenomenal expertise in agribusiness," he said.