With his ready smile and helpful attitude, Stuart Mirtschin has been a familiar face around the Henty Machinery Field Days since the mid 1970s.
Stuart operates the Wodonga based business, Mirtschin Agrepairs, and has been servicing tractors and farm machinery in a 100km radius for 40 years.
He thrives on the one-on-one connections he makes with farmers through his business.
“It’s a vitality of life – I meet many great people needing another value-eye for down to earth service, or just some alternate product advice,’’ he said.
Mr Mirtschin provides a complete tractor service and agricultural machinery repairs both on site and in the workshop.
The business specialises in new and used compact tractors, front end loader equipment and diesel and petrol variants of all terrain vehicles.
Mr Mirtschin services and repairs most brands of tractors including Belarus, new Australian made Elsworth bale feedout carts, and in-line and folding V rakes.
He services tractor air conditioning, carries out hydraulic repairs and consignment sales of second hand machinery.
“I enjoy the challenge of finding those hard to get or find tractor and machinery parts,’’ he said.
Growing up in Victoria’s western district, Stuart began his career in the farm machinery industry post apprenticeship at Henty after moving from a job on Gundaline Station in 1975.
“I fitted in like a glove at Henty and I started with a Chamberlain, John Deere, New Holland and Connor Shea dealer, on the highway turn off to the field day site,’’ he said.
“It was called Universe Service Centre and business was that busy servicing West Wyalong to Wangaratta, and it was common for the owner to take out full page advertisements on the back page of The Weekly Times.
“My first Henty field days was in 1976 – then it was held on only a portion of the present site surrounding the main office.
“It was a real stepping stone, there was a lot of vibrancy with much of the machinery being Australian made.’’
Mr Mirtschin moved on to work for an International Harvester dealership in Henty and then in the late 1970s moved to Albury to work for J D Phillips, a farm machinery and marine business, located on the present Officeworks site.
“At this time the Liberal Government was offering a 140 per cent investment allowance to purchase machinery and there were real incentives for farmers to buy machinery with smaller dealerships selling 30 tractors a year not uncommon,’’ he said.
Stuart branched out on his own as a service technician in 1982, picking up many customers in the southern Riverina and North East Victorian regions.
In 1989, in a bid to keep up with technology, he went into a partnership to form Big River Machinery, handling Case IH equipment in Albury-Wodonga.
“By 1997, I was beginning to taste that big is not always beautiful – times were tough with the floor falling out of wool combined with high interest rates chewing away at whatever goals we tried to kick,’’ Mr Mirtschin said.
The business wound up in 1997 and he went back to working for himself as Mirtschin Ag Repairs.
Old customers rallied around, proved their loyalty and returned to have their machinery serviced by Stuart.
He is now one of the last of the independent service technicians in Albury-Wodonga, operating from premises in Bradford Street, Wodonga.
Mirtschin Ag Repairs is a regional dealer for Southern Cross Distributors, Sydney, selling the AG Pro 1000 diesel UTV, and stocks petrol UTVs as well.
He continues to wear a few different hats in servicing smaller clients older machinery, with people choosing to refurbish instead of replace.
At Henty this year, Mirtschin Ag Repairs will be at site 227/228 Block F displaying UTVs, Bulldog 3PL equipment including slashers, backhoes, mulchers, bale handling equipment, and Elsworth Engineering’s bale feed out carts and folding V rakes.