Celebrating 120 years in agricultural business
Behind the scenes with McGregor Gourlay as they celebrate a milestone
AS McGregor Gourlay celebrates 120 years in business this year, the Northern Rivers branch at Grafton is proud to celebrate their third anniversary.
The Grafton branch was part of the expansion of the McGregor Gourlay business from north west NSW into the Northern Rivers in 2014.
From humble beginnings in 1897, JA McGregor & Co was established in Warialda NSW as a stock and station agency.
Over the generations that followed, the business has become one of the most dynamic, privately owned rural service companies in Australia, employing over 120 staff across 13 branches located across north west NSW, Northern Rivers, and south west Queensland border regions.
McGregor Gourlay Grafton is located on the Armidale Road just east of the Grafton Regional Livestock Selling Centre on the southern side of the Clarence River.
Whilst the Grafton branch is celebrating their third birthday, they have a customer base stretching back 20 years from when the store was trading as Shiralee Produce, with owner and well-known local Allan Morgan continuing on with the business today.
McGregor Gourlay group general manager Josh McGregor said keeping it local was the key to longevity and growth of the business.
“Generations of great people have made McGregor Gourlay the business it is today,” he said.
“To be able to celebrate 120 years of serving the agricultural community is a testament to that.”
With agriculture playing such a major role in the Clarence Valley’s economy, branch manager Phil Nelson and his team of nine staff are kept busy servicing the various industries spread over 310,000 ha that make the Clarence their home.
The cattle industry always has been a key industry of the Grafton region.
The local saleyards has the 12th highest throughput of cattle in the state selling approximately 45,000 head of cattle each year.
Mr Nelson and his team are consistently working with their customers to lift beef and milk production and efficiencies to keep livestock businesses profitable and sustainable in what is a global commodity market.
The McGregor Gourlay team at Grafton utilise science advancements to assist customers in fertility disease management through improved vaccine protocols and products, best practice internal and external parasite management and control utilising combination products to manage resistance strains, advice on pasture management and agronomic advice including soil testing, improved forage and pasture species to increase meat and milk production and earlier turnoff of cattle, and bulk fertiliser sales.
Jamie Clifford is a recent addition to the team at Grafton who specialises in soil science, plant nutrition and pest/disease management. Ms Clifford moved to the north coast five months ago to join the McGregor Gourlay team.
She enjoys the variety and challenge of working with the different soil types and their uses found from red soils supporting potatoes and cattle fattening enterprises on the Dorrigo Plateau, to lighter soils in the upper river which are home to large numbers of beef breeder operations through to the alluvial soils supporting sugarcane, beef fattening, dairy and macadamias on the lower river country. Two industries that have grown significantly in the past two years and utilise the skills and personal approach of the agronomy team are blueberries and macadamias.
Macadamia specialist advisor with McGregor Gourlay Phil Nelson is kept busy with this expanding industry.
“More and more macadamias are being grown on what was once traditional sugarcane lands of the lower river,” Mr Nelson said.
“The blueberry industry has found a favourable climate and home in the Woolgoolga area and its rapid growth has meant the need for a quality supplier and service partner.”
The staff in Grafton are predominantly made up of third and fourth generation locals.
Including Judy Bremer who is a familiar face, Max Lentfer, a regular on farm delivering inputs to farmers, as well as Stephen Smith and Chris King who look after merchandise and animal health enquiries in store.
One of Mr Nelson’s most enjoyable roles is supporting local organisations and community events. Some of the local events the team sponsor and support include the Westpac Rescue Helicopter, local Rural Fire Services, the Grafton Show Society, Big River Campdraft, Coutts Crossing Junior Campdraft and Rodeo, Maclean Campdraft, Copmanhurst Campdraft, Baryulgil Campdraft and the Grafton Poultry Club.
“The business has just continued to grow, it is a testimony to the highly committed team of professional service providers that make up our team,” Mr Nelson said.
“We love working in partnership with our customers and the local community.”
The business has just continued to grow, it is a testimony to the highly committed team of professional service providers that make up our team. We love working in partnership with our customers and the local community, and we are forever grateful to them for their support. — Phil Nelson
Jamie Clifford, Chris King, Steve Smith, Allan Morgan, Judy Bremer, Phil Nelson and Max Lentfer. PHOTOS: CONTRIBUTED
Grafton branch manager Phil Nelson.
Jamie Clifford, from Grafton.