Wiesners bring country values and service to Wodonga

Chris Wiesner opened a new branch in Wodonga to complement his Walla Walla farm machinery business, Wiesners.

One of this year’s most talked about tractors, the Fendt 1000 Vario, will feature on the AGCO dealer site at Henty on both dual and narrow row crop tyre configurations.

The 500 hp tractor landed on the nation’s shores in May, with Wiesners dealer principal Chris Wiesner travelling to Horsham for product training and a hands-on demo drive day.

Mr Wiesner said many large broadacre growers in the Riverina were anticipating the tractor’s arrival.

“It is a rigid frame tractor that is so smooth – it has two transmissions driving the front and rear axles,’’ he said.

“Maximum power is achieved at only 1450 rpm, it just idles along and you wouldn’t think it is producing the 500hp.

“It has a bigger tyre diameter to get power to the ground – they are 2.35m high giving a longer footprint acting like a tracked machine.

“The tyre technology allows the tyres to be run at a lower pressure increasing the footprint by 15 per cent with the added benefit of reduce soil compaction.

“The tractor can be weighted up to 21 tonne, it has that much strength allowing it to be flexible in its weight so you can lighten the tractor off to do haulage work.

“It has a top road speed of 65km/h and is easy to drive with an air suspended, spacious cab.

“The tractor is configured for row crop applications which suits this region for cotton and maize.’’

AGCO will also have a full range of wheeled and tracked tractors, headers, tillage machinery, spray equipment and hay making equipment on site at Henty.

New sales manager Mark Harrison will be on hand, along with Ron Sharp and Chris Wiesner.

Mr Wiesner said 80-200hp tractor sales had been strong this year on the back of buoyant livestock markets.

He expects the row crop ability of the new Fendt 1000 Series to forge new markets in the cotton industry for the company.

Wiesners opened a second branch in Wodonga in October last year, bringing the country service and values their Walla Walla branch is renowned for.

The company was started by Chris’ parents, Col and Lorraine, at Walla in 1973, and began exhibiting at Henty that year when the event was located on a private farm on the Olympic Way.

Col had originally worked as a service technician for the Massey Ferguson dealer H A Jacobs, of Walla, and was responsible for demonstrating new machinery at the field days.

Chris recalls one funny incident his father was involved early in the field days’ history.

“One year, Massey Ferguson had a new hay mower and Col assembled it at Walla, then took it over to the field days,’’ he said.

“He was on the tractor with his white overalls on but there was some problem with the mower and he ended up absolutely covered in grass.’’

Chris is a third generation farm machinery dealer with his grandfather being a service agent for Fordson Tractors in Walla Walla.

Col was employed by Jacobs as the dealership’s first Massey Ferguson mechanic and developed a woven wire mesh sieve which improved the sample in Olympic wheat in the late 1960s.

“It was called the Wiesner Multi-Step Sieve and replaced the riddle (in the header) – when Olympic wheat was introduced it was hard threshing and had white heads difficult to separate from the sample.

“Growers were docked for white heads in the sample so Col and Clarrie Ronnfeldt did some experimentation, adapting the sieve.’’

Col and Lorraine began manufacturing the Wiesner sieve and distributing Honda engines in 1973, on a site now occupied by Kotzur.

“I remember as a young person after school welding up the frames then roaring into the Albury Railway Station to put the sieves on the train at harvest time,’’ Chris said.

He joined the family business in 1978.

“In the early 1970s, Deutz was a new product coming out and the fuel efficiency of the air-cooled engine was way ahead of anything else,’’ he said.

“Col told a customer at the bar at Henty if ever a water pump or a radiator failed, he would replace the tractor for nothing.

“A few weeks later, the farmer was talking to a mate about Col’s statement, and he predicted Col would go broke replacing tractors when the water pump or radiator failed.

“His mate replied the Deutz had an air-cooled engine and there was no water pump or radiator – the farmer had been had and it was quite a funny story.’’

The oil crisis of 1974 resulted in skyrocketing fuel prices and the Deutz, with its reliability and fuel efficiency, made in-roads in the Australian broadacre market.

“Deutz also had a good 4WD system and that was demonstrated at the Henty field days in about 1975,’’ Mr Wiesner said.

“Grower feedback was good and we sold 25 new Deutz tractors in a 12 month period – that really put us on our feet.

“I remember one Christmas eve in the early 80s we had three customers lined up waiting for a new tractor.’’

The dealership branched into the German manufactured Fendt tractors and CLAAS farm machinery.

“The opportunity came up to take on AGCO with its great product range – reliability of the Massey Ferguson tractor range is excellent,’’ Mr Wiesner said.

“Now with the Wodonga business, we have a greater capacity to service Albury-Wodonga and surrounding districts right through to north-east Victoria.

“There is a lot of diversity in the region with viticulture, dairying, horticulture, livestock, hay production, small lot farmers, irrigated and broadacre cropping.

“We have gone from two to 17 staff across the two branches.

“The next point of growth for us will be to have a permanent service facility in Wodonga – our service technicians from Walla operate out of the Wodonga workshop for three days a week.’’

The Wodonga branch represents Massey Ferguson, Fendt, Gleaner, Iseki, Challenger, Hardi and Croplands.

Mr Wiesner said the Henty Machinery Field Days remained the company’s major field day.

“Customers are researching on line and are educated on a product before they come to us but they still rely on our judgement,’’ he said.

“To ensure we are constantly meeting our clients needs, we recently appointed a dedicated marketer to increase our presence and develop our digital and social media footprint.

“We are finding demonstrating the equipment is the way to go – bums on seats.

“I would commend a move by the field days to return to machinery demonstrations.

“Henty allows us to contact new customers and then develop relationships over many years as well as communicate with our existing customers.

“People usually start ordering equipment for the hay or sowing season, and we can usually gauge what the next season is going to be like given the inquiry at Henty.

“Next year it will be 40 years at Henty for me – I enjoy catching up with customers and having a beer with them at the end of the day.’’