Farmers invest in own futures
WHEN rural business David Evans Group shut its doors in the Rose City late last year, it left a gaping hole in the industry.
It was a bad sign for rural business, which was gripped by drought and struggling farmers.
But a group of locals have thrown their support behind both the community and the men and women making their livings on the land.
Long-time David Evans employee Marcus Stewart was left out of work when the business closed back in November, after 15 years of service.
Mr Stewart has since joined forces with business partners Steve Nelson, Stuart Judd and Neil Shelley to open Southern Downs Ag.
Former David Evans employee Clare Canavan has also joined the team
The team believes the rural industry has a strong future in the region and are putting their money where their mouth is.
Mr Nelson said the move was not an impulsive decision by him and Mr Stewart.
"We both had the idea for a while but David Evans closing was the trigger - we decided to do it then," he said. "We're in the same business - doing agricultural repairs and selling new and used machinery.
"But we're also doing transport industry repairs, basically we're doing everything from trucks to tractors."
Mr Nelson said the team also wanted to help the farmers who were already doing it tough.
"It wasn't just about Marcus or Clare looking for work, it was about the community too," he said.
"There are a lot of farmers who can't afford to go to Toowoomba all the time for parts and servicing.
"This type of service is something the community needs and it has opened up a few more jobs.
The new business is also set to deliver a boost to the economy and has provided employment opportunities.
Mr Stewart said they had already opened up three full-time positions, as well as three part-time jobs in support roles.
"We're thinking of taking on sales, spares and service staff down the track - we'll have to see how it goes," he said.
"We would really like to grow and expand so we can service surrounding areas as well."
Mr Shelley said he and his partners all had strong rural backgrounds, which would help them relate to customers and provide the best service possible.
"We know what it is like to have machinery go down and you only have a small window of time," he said.
"Ninety-five percent of baling is done between midnight and 3am so when something goes wrong you need someone who can fix it straight away," he said.
"People might not call Marcus at midnight but they might call him out at 5am."
Mr Shelley said he and his business partners made the decision to invest in the industry because they believed farming had a strong future on the Southern Downs.
"A lot of other places have changed and are going through mining booms but Warwick hasn't changed - we still have guys with their farm machinery and a high amount of dairy farms," he said.
"Warwick is a bit of a pocket and we are still farming."
For more information on what the team has to offer, phone 4661 5900.