Perseverance is key: Goldacres founder
PERSEVERANCE. It is something Torque would argue, is gained from experience, not text books.
And Goldacres founder John Griffiths is a living embodiment of that.
Torque caught up with him during last week’s Goldacres 40th year anniversary expo at the company’s Ballarat, Victoria, factory for an enjoyable trip down Memory Lane.
That included reminiscing about the 2015 Melbourne Cup, won by female jockey Michelle Payne aboard Prince of Penzance.
John was a majority part-owner of the winner.
But Torque digresses.
He’s a majority owner of his company but he’s content these days to let his sons Roger (general manager) and Stephen (national sales and marketing manager) handle the day-to-day running.
He has family farm connections but worked in Melbourne studying accountancy until his father died when he was 23.
“Dad had a farm supplies business in St Arnaud (130 kilometres north west of Ballarat) and I returned to run the business,” he said.
“It grew into John Richards Machinery and a car dealership and I was doing a bit of spray contracting as well.
“At some point, I think it was in the mid-eighties, I dropped everything and concentrated on sprayers because by that time I had started to sell a few.”
John re-named the company Goldacres as a play on words from the fact that St Arnaud was a gold-mining district.
“Grain was considered gold too,” he said.
“There was a lot of competition around in those early days with Silvan, Drewburn, Hardi and Computorspray but I made a machine because I thought I could do it better.
“Most of the machines were ground-drive, with no agitation and the rates being used were only accurate through a limited range.
“I made a model with a 1300 litre tank with a PTO-driven pump to make it more efficient, along with a simple boom (12.1 metre, 40foot) that effectively provided a good coverage.”
Today Goldacres supplies sprayers to a range of markets, including a new G4V – a self-propelled boomsprayer for the horticulture market.
John puts the company’s success down to perseverance.
“We’ve been through crop droughts, finance droughts and market downturns but you’ve just got to keep going,” he said.
“What we’ve tried to do is take the highs and lows out of manufacturing and just focused on continuity of production and diversification.
“We certainly can compete against the corporates and I think we have the right products.
“Our basic rule, if you like, is to build well and back up well, with products that achieve cost efficiencies.”
GOLDACRES mechanical engineer Coen Turner was presented with a challenge for the company’s flagship self-propelled G8 boomsprayer.
Design requirements called for a 48 metre (158 foot) boom, with a three section fold, mild steel on the inner wing with aluminium on the middle, outer and breakaway wings, to keep the weight down.
In effect, Coen was being asked to design a ‘Goldilocks’ boom that was not too stiff, not too soft, but just right.
A prototype model quickly became the company’s most tested boom with numerous design changes on computer simulation to gain the ultimate balance of weight and strength.
“The weight needed to be as low as possible while retaining strength,” Coen said.
“It couldn’t be too stiff because it would be more likely to crack but it couldn’t be too sloppy because that would cause whipping, leading to uneven boom ride and spray patterns.
“We had to be brutal with our testing to find that right balance.”
One of the key solutions was to design truss structure deep and wide to reduce stress and increase boom strength.
The outer wings also feature unique hydraulic break-back and break-forward functions and the inner wings feature forward and rearward dampening.
Goldacres used aluminium in conjunction with a specially-designed (in-house) and patented hydraulic yaw control suspension in order to keep the weight down, reduce the inertia and the tendency to yaw and keep the boom level.
The 48m Tritech boom is a product of 18 months development by Goldacres.
“The R&D kept us on our toes,” Coen said.
“The boom is the most challenging part of making a sprayer.”
Cost of spraying
GOLDACRES business manager Jason Rodda said it was all about the sums.
He makes a compelling case for the Australian manufactured self-propelled boomsprayer.
Speaking with Torque at the expo last week, Jason said the cost of ownership of machinery was becoming more of a factor in purchasing decisions these days.
“We confidently make the case that our mechanical drive models will not only match competitive hydrostatic models for productivity, they will do it cheaper,” Jason said.
“The big thing is the mechanical drive.
“It’s more efficient in putting power to the ground with lower running costs, including a big reduction in fuel usage.
“Typically, you’ll find a Goldacres model on the used market with 2500 hours work will be worth about $50,000 more than a competitive model.
“Service costs are cheaper by about 50 per cent compared with a hydrostatic service and there’s less urgency to trade when you know you don’t have to worry about wheel motors.”
Jason said Goldacres already had catered for the sceptics.
“We’ve got an affordability calculator where you can input the hours you typically work in a year along with fixed costs and you can compare gross margins between mechanical drive and hydrostatics,’’ he said.
“Most guys who have used it are genuinely surprised, particularly when the fuel usage figures are presented – 12 to 25 litres an hour for mechanical drive versus up to 60L/hr for hydrostatic machines.
“I challenge anybody to look at the cost of spraying before they purchase their next SP sprayer.”
See your local Goldacres dealer about the calculator.
‘Cat’ lights on the Hill
THE annual Tracmach-promoted Lights on the Hill at Brunswick – essentially a day to see a feast of vintage and veteran machinery in action – is earmarked for Saturday, April 14.
One of the organisers, retired Kukerin farmer Bob Lukins, is hoping a lot of Caterpillar aficionados will turn up.
“There has been a lot of talk since the Wigmores reunion four years ago, about forming a Caterpillar club in WA,” Bob said.
(Wigmores was one of the nation’s top Caterpillar dealers for more than 60 years, before being re-named in 1990 as Westrac Equipment Pty Ltd).
“I’m hoping at this year’s Lights on the Hill, people who are interested in forming a club will come to the event and voice their interest.
“There’s a major club in the United States with branches in the Eastern States but I think WA should have its own club.
“I also want people to have a think about a co-ordinator because I’m getting too old.
“If anybody has got any ideas about forming the club or wants to volunteer help, they can contact me on 0428 960 594.”
Good on you Bob. Keep the camp fires burning.
New face at Case IH
CASE IH marketing manager Pete McCann is taking over from Bruce Healey as “brand leader Australia and New Zealand”.
Bruce is moving into a different area of the CNH Industrial business in early April.
Pete has been a member of the Case IH team for the past eight years, including the past two as marketing manager.
He grew up on a farm at Dubbo, New South Wales and before joining Case IH in 2010, he worked for GPS-Ag.
He will take over as brand leader from Sunday, April 1.
Don’t be fooled.