AFGRI Wheatbelt expansion will offer 35 more apprenticeships across rural WA

Email Shannon Verhagen
AFGRI Esperance 1st Year Apprentices Tom Stead, Sam Barber, 17, 1st Year Parts Trainee Liam Critchley, 17, and 1st Year Apprentices Jacob Jackson, 17 and Jayk Swann, 17.
Camera IconAFGRI Esperance 1st Year Apprentices Tom Stead, Sam Barber, 17, 1st Year Parts Trainee Liam Critchley, 17, and 1st Year Apprentices Jacob Jackson, 17 and Jayk Swann, 17. Credit: The West Australian

One of WA’s major farm machinery companies has acquired a string of dealerships to expand its footprint in the Wheatbelt.

AFGRI Equipment Australia has entered an agreement with prominent farmer John Nicoletti to acquire six of his Ag Implements branches in a move set to boost apprenticeship and employment opportunities in the farming communities.

Following regulatory approvals, the company — which made its first investment in Australia in 2004 after starting in South Africa almost a century ago — intended to finalise the transaction last week, with further stakeholder communication to follow.

John Nicoletti
Camera IconJohn Nicoletti

The Cunderdin, Merredin, Mukinbudin, Narembeen, Northam, and Quairading branches will add to the company’s 14 existing locations, from Geraldton in the north to Esperance in the south.

AFGRI operations director Gollie Coetzee said the management team would implement the best practices of both businesses to ensure they were ready to supply the market with premium products and service excellence.

He emphasised the importance of making the transition for new employees and customers as smooth and comfortable as possible.

“The main message for this acquisition is to ensure our new employees and customers experience an easy and similar approach to what they are used to,” Mr Coetzee said.

“We had opportunities to talk to Ag Implements staff, and they will have opportunities to put their concerns forward in the next couple of weeks.

“Employees are the backbone of any business, and we want to transfer our strong employee culture which is based on our values of integrity, accountability, teamwork, passion and service excellence.”

AFGRI Equipment Australia operations director Gollie Coetzee.
Camera IconAFGRI Equipment Australia operations director Gollie Coetzee. Credit: Zach Relph

This expansion — thought to be worth upwards of $30 million — is anticipated to increase the company’s staffing capacity and create employment in rural communities.

Mr Coetzee said they would look to increase the company’s staffing capacity and ensure employment in rural areas.

“We will be looking to increase our number of technicians at these new locations and expand our AFGRI Apprentice Academy with a further 35 apprentices next year,” Mr Coetzee said.

“We will continue working with the local schools to make sure we can keep potential future employees in the rural areas.”

AFGRI commercial director Wessel Oosthuizen said the acquisition was an exciting time for both AFGRI Equipment and Ag Implements and benefit customers in the long run.

“Economies of scale allows us better efficiencies within the group, such as better whole goods and parts stocking capabilities, expanding on best practices and the increase in knowledge through the sharing of experience and information through the group, to name a few,” he said.

“One such example is our team of four technical advisors of which are all experienced technicians and experts in their fields.

“This includes precision ag, tractors, harvesters, seeding equipment and construction equipment.

“They are in place to make sure our staff are trained to optimize equipment and attend to any technical issues the various product groups may experience.”

Mr Oosthuizen said the acquisition was an exciting time for both AFGRI Equipment and Ag Implements.

“We are looking forward to this next chapter for AFGRI and wish to put our potential new staff and customers at ease as we transition through this period.”

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