Moving in to spread out

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An agricultural machinery business has moved its headquarters to Pakenham ahead of rapid expansion plans supported by its recent partnership with an international company.

Long-term Garfield resident Les Clarke’s YTO Tractors and AusEquip has partnered with China-based farming machinery manufacturer YTO International to broaden its product range and customer reach across Australia and New Zealand.

Mr Clarke initially became interested in YTO tractors and equipment 10 years ago and has since been working closely with the company to develop products that meet the needs of Australian farmers.

He established his business 25 years ago in Garfield North beginning with selling and reconditioning second-hand tractors.

The business has since expanded to supply new tractors, fork lifts, other farming equipment and spare parts.

“We’ve moved the whole operation to Kooweerup Road in Pakenham last month. It’s a much larger site, far more high profile and far more economical for business operations in shipping equipment in and out,” he said.

“We currently have five employees at this site but we’re about to expand rapidly over the next 12 to 18 months.

“We’ll be taking on a lot of new products like excavators and bulldozers.”

YTO Tractors and AusEquip will soon announce the release of a power shift series and equal wheelers in response to their growing popularity.

Mr Clarke said YTO International was also considering establishing a training and distribution centre in Pakenham in the near future but that plans were yet to be finalised.

Mr Clarke came from a farming background, having grown up on a beef cattle farm some 40 years ago, and his family also maintained an orchard for about 15 years.

With decades of experience in the industry, Mr Clarke has seen many changes to tractors over the years.

“Farmers have gone from using smaller tractors to wanting to use much larger tractors and they all want four-wheel drives and front-end loaders,” Mr Clarke said.

“Farmers want to accomplish their tasks a lot quicker. They’re no longer happy sitting in the tractor for a whole day, they want to get the job done in half a day so tractors have adapted to meet these needs.”

Mr Clarke said the business had felt the impact of online selling and that “cheap and nasty” products on the internet had unfairly given Chinese products a bad name.

“People make assumptions and that’s meant we’ve had the challenge of proving our product.

“We’ve got past that stage now but there was a time when farmers had the perception of being worried that Chinese products would break down on them or that the quality wasn’t as good,” he said.

“Making customers happy is the most important part of business. A happy customer will always come back and tell their neighbours, too.

“We’ve had some very loyal customers who have bought six or more tractors from us.

“YTO’s products are very reliable with high quality parts, simple to use and very affordable.

“At the end of the day we’re here to help our farmers.”

Originally published at Pakenham Gazette.

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About Alana Mitchelson

Alana Mitchelson is a journalist based in Melbourne, Australia. Follow her on Twitter at @AlanaMitchelson.

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