THE store was full of energy and character at the opening of the new Elders branch in Coorow on last Friday.
About 70 people from the surrounding region packed the store on Main Street, which had undergone extensive renovations and a fresh coat of paint.
Elders area manager Ryan Robinson said the branch was Elders’ first newly company-owned branch in WA for many years.
“Elders has not had a branch in Coorow before,” Mr Robinson said.
“Elders has invested a significant amount of capital into the renovations to the old Cunningham’s building, which is now complete.
“The investment and expansion is in line with Elders eight-point plan to grow the business by 2020.”
Zone general manager west, James Cornish and members of the company’s State leadership attended the opening, which included drinks, food and door prizes.
New branch manager Guy Sims welcomed attendees and said it was great for the local Coorow community to have the investment and presence of Elders, when “a lot of towns are struggling with empty shops and a population decline”.
“We are not experiencing that here due to the spirit of the population,” Mr Sims said.
He said two years ago he wouldn’t have imagined being the new branch manager.
“Life throws up opportunities and you either take them or you don’t,” Mr Sims said.
He said his team was well known in the community and having those established relationships was a major part of Elders’ decision to go ahead with the expansion.
Mr Cornish said the company looked at options including purchasing a vacant block but Mr Sims “was clear we should take on an existing business and improve it”.
“It has worked out beautifully,” Mr Cornish said.
“We are committed to the community and serious about what we are doing.
“This is a full blown Elders branch with all of the services others have, including farm supplies, agronomy, agri finance, livestock, insurance and more.
“We are not here for five minutes.
“We are committed to staff training and to make them successful.”
Mr Cornish said Elders had expressed interest in opening a branch in Coorow a while ago and there was a lengthy process involved in finding the right people to do the job and selecting the right location.
He was “convinced” that Coorow could handle two major agricultural suppliers.
Elders staff said they couldn’t remember when the last branch was opened in WA – but expected it to be as far back as 30 years ago.
Coorow farmer Gerry O’Callaghan said he used to own the building, which was built by his father Bill O’Callaghan in the 1950s.
The building has changed hands a few times over the years and was once a car sales yard.
Mr Robinson said the store was in disrepair and needed to be brought up to modern standards in order to accommodate Elders.
The Elders Coorow branch will be staffed by Mr Sims, agronomist Shannon Meyer and farm supplies sales representative Jake Comley.
Elders shares the lease with RedMac Ag Services, which has its parts division in Coorow.