A centenary of service from Baxters Rural Centre

A centenary of service from Baxters Rural Centre


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Baxters Rural Centre, Cunderdin, officially celebrates a centenary of service to the community, on Friday, March 29.

BY any measure, celebrating 100 years in business is a significant event.

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Baxters Rural Centre dealer principal Russell Baxter (front) carries the business into the fourth generation watched by a proud father Ken Baxter, who officially retired as dealer principal in 2002. The pair, with their respective wives Corrina and Beryl, will next Friday welcome guests to the 100th anniversary celebrations at the dealership.

Baxters Rural Centre dealer principal Russell Baxter (front) carries the business into the fourth generation watched by a proud father Ken Baxter, who officially retired as dealer principal in 2002. The pair, with their respective wives Corrina and Beryl, will next Friday welcome guests to the 100th anniversary celebrations at the dealership.

It's even more significant for Baxters Rural Centre, Cunderdin, which next week officially celebrates a centenary of service to the community, on Friday, March 29.

The business is arguably the oldest family-owned and operated machinery dealership in Australia with current dealer principal Russell Baxter carrying the mantle into the Baxter family's fourth generation. He already has 36 years under his belt since he first started in 1983.

The business was started in 1919 by Russell's great grandfather Robert Lees Baxter and his grandfather Kenneth William (Bill) Baxter, operating out of an office in a shearing shed, on the corner of Main Street and Baxter Road, where most of the district's farmers did their shearing and dipping.

The building remains in operation today housing machinery and is used as a general storage facility.

While still farming a 400 hectare property north of the town, Robert and his son Bill started the business RL Baxter and Sons as McCormick Deering agents, which later became International Harvester Australia Co.

Kenneth William (Bill) Baxter (left) with his son Ken pictured in 1979 celebrating 60 years as International Harvester dealers selling trucks and tractors.

Kenneth William (Bill) Baxter (left) with his son Ken pictured in 1979 celebrating 60 years as International Harvester dealers selling trucks and tractors.

The pair were also involved with Texaco Oils and later on with the stock firm Goldsbrough Mort.

"When the business started, the tractor was a totally revolutionary concept," said third generation Ken Baxter.

"Horses were still the main form of transport and for farm work and Robert and Bill were almost solely responsible for bringing the tractor to the Wheatbelt area, at a time when a tractor was a thing with steel wheels and shook the living daylights out of you.

"In 1940, they upgraded from the shed to offices and workshop in the main shopping centre in Main Street but 10 years later moved back to a new office and workshop where they exist today."

At that time, the trading name changed to Baxters Rural Centre.

Bill's son Ken became involved in 1962 and took over the reins from Bill in 1970.

In 1986 the Baxters were appointed Ford New Holland dealers after the amalgamation of International Harvester and Case Corporation.

Baxters Rural Centre . . . from a shearing shed to a modern day machinery dealership which is pivotal to the Cunderdin community.

Baxters Rural Centre . . . from a shearing shed to a modern day machinery dealership which is pivotal to the Cunderdin community.

It didn't take Ken long to grow the New Holland business in the Cunderdin district and surrounding areas and his efforts consolidated Baxters Rural Centre as a thriving dealership and a major contributor to the town's economy as a business and an employer.

In 2002, Ken and his wife Beryl, resigned from the company leaving Russell and his wife Corrina to manage the business, with Ken still involved in customer relations and product sales.

Today, apart from its New Holland franchise, Baxters Rural Centre has expanded to carry other major leading franchises including Morris Industries, Simplicity Australia and Grizzly.

It is also involved with Primary Sales, Trimble, LiuGong and Iveco Trucks and is a stockist for Northam Bearing Sales.

It is one of the biggest employers in Cunderdin and is heavily involved in sponsoring community events, local schools and sporting clubs.

he thriving International Harvester dealership at Cunderdin operated by RL Baxter and Sons. This picture was taken in 1948. The business started in 1919 as McCormick Deering dealers until International Harvester merged with the company in 1945, when it was re-named McCormick International.

he thriving International Harvester dealership at Cunderdin operated by RL Baxter and Sons. This picture was taken in 1948. The business started in 1919 as McCormick Deering dealers until International Harvester merged with the company in 1945, when it was re-named McCormick International.

To cater for its increased business and service demands, a new shed was built in 2016 opposite the dealership.

Apart from Cunderdin, Baxters Rural Centre services the surrounding districts with some customers as far as 100 kilometres away.

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