Cel­e­brat­ing 120 years in agri­cul­tural busi­ness

Be­hind the scenes with McGre­gor Gourlay as they cel­e­brate a mile­stone

The Northern Star - Northern New South Wales Rural Weekly - - Find A -

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.

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