Agriculture is one of the most consistently evolving industries of the world, becoming more and more efficient as time goes on. Aside from that, the needs of each region change over time so the manufacturers must learn to adapt very quickly should they wish to survive in this extremely competitive industry. Those who have demonstrated excellent customer service alongside products of the highest quality are the only ones who have survived in the long term as they have also managed to continuously reshape their practices to fit the market’s needs.
Magnus Australia is one of those companies which have always managed to stay ahead of the game despite the challenges faced by the industry. It has been manufacturing farm equipment for more than 30 years while it has also been manufacturing sheds for over 15 years. Craig McLatchie and his father took over what was already a well-established business back in 1992 and have worked tirelessly to improve it since then. After his father retired in 2000, Craig has been overseeing virtually every operation within the company as the Managing Director.
Staying on top of the trade
Today, the company employs about 25 people from Adelaide Hills, where Magnus Australia is based, as well as other surrounding areas. Their product range includes feeders, shearing sheds, horse stables, rural sheds, stockyards, and plastic tile grating. All of those are part of their mission to develop and manufacture high quality and affordable products, allowing their clients to save money while helping ease their work and make it as safe as it possibly can be.
Even more so than any other manufacturing industries, those involved in the agricultural trade need to be able to adapt their products quickly and efficiently. While there are a number of ready-made products available to order on demand, most of the business is conducted through customized and special orders. No two farmers share the exact same equipment or have the exact same needs in their land. They all wish to do things a little bit differently so Magnus Australia are required to react according to the specifications of each client. The expertise and knowledge of the staff allow them to easily make any necessary changes and amendments, however, as part of their personalized approach to manufacturing.
“Ours is a standard product only in the broad sense. Everything, especially the shearing sheds these days, are all slightly different. Everyone has a different sized shed, a different sized block. If we made a thousand sheds, very few of them would be the same. Some people want different doors, like sliding ones. That’s how the industry works”, explains Craig.
Applying the personal touch
Brendan Loechel, the Sales and Marketing Manager of Magnus Australia, explained to us that each client is treated personally and individually. Though the company has an established network of sellers through the region and further, their core business relies on the personal touch. Brendan himself often goes on-site to their client’s farms, assesses their needs, discuss their issues and concerns, and writes down customized orders which respond to their specific needs. This level of interaction is very important in the industry and it has certainly worked well for the company as meeting with their clients face to face has allowed them to maintain an intense presence, far better than they could have achieved through faceless communication.
Craig also talked to us about Brendan’s meetings: “We would like to think that what sets us apart from our competitors is the personal touch we give. Most of the jobs we win are because we actually go out on site, meet with the customer and deal with the personal side of things. They can actually see something- it’s not just a phone call where we tell them they can do this or that. Brendan goes around the state and over to Victoria visiting clients. I think that’s the best way to be”
Offering products of outstanding quality
Of course, that is not to say that that personalized service is everything. The products also need to speak for the company on their own as outstanding customer service means nothing without being accompanied by outstanding products. Thankfully, Magnus Australia has proved itself time and time again by continuously innovating and improving their products. By listening to the farmers and end-users and always considering how they can improve, the company has managed to consistently evolve, never stepping behind.
Out of all the company’s products, their sheds are what have made the biggest impact in recent years. Though they have always been involved in the industry, the company started making sheds full-time sometime in the late 90s and it soon became a very fast-growing part of their business. Their established reputation allowed them to venture further and the last decade or so has seen an incredible demand for their sheds and their other custom products. Customers have always been satisfied with their work because the staff at Magnus Australia are personally involved with each project. The end result is always unique so their clients know that they will receive well-made, sturdy equipment that will last them for a very long time.
Overcoming challenges by looking to the future
Magnus Australia has already laid solid foundations in South Australia as well as Victoria with a business practice to be proud of. And even though they do some work in other states, Craig is not overly concerned with rapidly expanding their business throughout Australia. Moving huge truckloads of equipment is a logistical nightmare and, aside from that, the company already has its hands full in the surrounding regions. Of course, there is always the possibility of further expanding their manufacturing prowess and capabilities which would inevitably lead into the wider expansion of the company as a whole. Those goals lie further into the future, however, as Craig wishes to focus elsewhere for now.
One of the main challenges faced by the agricultural manufacturing industry is competing with imported products, mainly from China but from other countries as well. A few years ago, imported products were considered inferior in quality and build which led many to buy Australian-made products due to their quality and a desire to support the local community rather than a foreign one. However, the economic landscape has changed dramatically since then. Now, a huge portion of clients are price-driven and the free trade agreement has made a huge impact on local manufacturers who struggle to keep pace with cheaper products.
Still, companies like Magnus Australia have a few qualities that cannot be replicated or replaced and there will always be clients who appreciate that. That level of personal touch, instant communication, and deep understanding of the agricultural market of their region are elements that only companies such as Magnus Australia possess. Sitting down with their customers and being there for them throughout the entire manufacturing process is extremely important. The desire to constantly improve their services also drives them forward, allowing them to offer better and better products to their clients.
The road ahead will be challenging indeed but Craig is adamant about his company’s direction. His aim is for Magnus Australia to keep providing quality products through consistent innovative practices and excellent customer service. Since agriculture is a seasonal industry, directing their focus in growing areas is keeping everyone on their toes. The constant innovations and quality services are certainly two of the most important elements which will keep Magnus Australia at the forefront for a long time.