Stan Cork Machinery sits proudly on the eastern approach to Dorrigo township and has done so since 1983. It is the archetypal ‘farmers’ business- run by local farmers for local farmers. It represents loyalty, dependability and stability- qualities held dear by the traditional Dorrigo community in these times of change and flux.
The Corks and the Beaumonts forged the Stan Cork Machinery partnership more than 35 years ago. These days, three generations of the Cork and Beaumont families are still deeply entwined in the business (from left Nick Beaumont, Jo Beaumont nee Cork and Mike Beaumont). While embracing new technologies, the team have truly understood the importance of retaining the principles of old.
We interviewed Jo about business, life on the plateau and the changes they’ve seen.
Were all of the Corks and the Beaumonts born in the Bellingen Shire?
Yes. My dad Stan Cork, myself and my husband Gary Beaumont were the original partners of Stan Cork Machinery. We were all born in Dorrigo Hospital. Mum was born in Bellingen so we consider her a ‘ring in’.
Are the 2 families traditional farming families?
My grandfather (Stan’s father) and Gary’s father were both dairy farmers. The original ‘Cork’ farm is still in the Cork Family. Mum was a Freeman before her marriage to dad – all the families were pioneers of the Plateau.
Have you seen much change in the way of life on the Dorrigo Plateau over the years?
Life is completely different today compared to when I was growing up. Once everybody knew everybody – everybody was active in community organisations or sport and because of this involvement, great friendships were formed. We all cared for each other. This is still true to a certain degree – as shown with the current bushfires. But in the years past everybody shopped locally, before on-line shopping and the pull of larger shopping hubs. So all our local small businesses thrived. This isn’t so true any more.
Saying this, we are still a community where we help our neighbours when needed, whether it be monetary support or emotional support.
How has Stan Cork Machinery grown and changed over the years?
The business has grown immensely in the last 36 years, from employing 7 people in 1983, to now employing over 20. The opening of the branch at Woolgoolga in 2010 has also helped this expansion.
Traditionally we supplied mainly dairy and beef farmers and local government departments in the immediate area with their requirements. Nowadays the blueberry farms on the coast are major customers as well. Dairy farmer numbers are less, but the equipment they buy is bigger. In the past few years hay & silage making machinery has added to growth of our business.
We now sell and service machinery, south to Kempsey, west to Guyra and north to Grafton. Tractors and machinery have changed drastically in the past 36 years- from basic tractors (no electronics) and implements to very complicated units of machinery. In 1983 computers in the office were only just starting to emerge. Now the computers are in most tractors and a lot of the machinery, and the office cannot operate without modern technology – as was recently experienced when the local NBN network was being upgraded.
Has the business ownership changed?
The business is still owned and managed by the two original families. There are now 3 generations working in the business. Gary and I are still managing both branches. Our son Michael is involved with sales and service and our grandson Nicholas is a fully qualified technician and also carries an air- conditioning license. Peter Smith (Parts Manager) is also a shareholder in the business.
You must have seen the influx of lifestyle farmers over the years. Has this changed your business model?
The numbers of lifestyle and small acreage farmers have grown and we cater to the smaller horsepower machines they require. Also, Zero Turn Mower sales have increased dramatically. The smaller landholder requires a mower that will mow their grass quickly and efficiently. After all, they have moved here to experience a “tree change”, not to spend all their time keeping the grass down. Service training for all makes and models that we sell is important and we regularly send our technicians for this training.
What advice can you give a novice lifestyle farmer? If they were to purchase 1 piece of equipment- what would you suggest?
It would all depend on what the novice lifestyle farmer intends to do with his/her land. Some have planted different crops such as macadamia nuts, blueberries and avocadoes. Depending on their acreage we would suggest a machine suitable for their requirements. This is where it is necessary for the people to come and discuss their needs with our salesmen. Jack Martin & Mike Beaumont in Dorrigo have great knowledge and expertise and they will not sell something that they feel is incorrect for the person’s requirements.
Sometimes I hear people say that they “want” a certain machine because that is what somebody else has told them they have to have. Jack & Mike normally go through and ascertain exactly what they will be doing with their land and advise them of the best options – these options often come at a lot less cost.
As we head into Spring- do you have any tips for pasture management or soil preparation?
This year is particularly dry so my advice would be to conserve water – and pray for rain!
I would imagine that older farmers did their own maintenance. Does this mean that the newer farmer has increased the need for your maintenance team?
Modern technology has made the services of our technicians more important than ever. Gone are the days when the farmer came in, bought his filters and oils and serviced his own tractor. It is not that “easy” anymore. If you’ve bought a new car in the past 10 years or so, you would know that you cannot service that car like “in the good old days”.
We have up-to-date computer technology that analyses any issues that need attending to. If you lift the bonnet on a new tractor you would understand why it is no longer a simple task to service. Also in some instances, warranty is voided if genuine parts and oils are not used.
Do you run any workshops for new farmers?
We don’t. But on delivery of equipment the owners are taken through a step-by-step installation process. This outlines safety & handling issues including instructing people how to drive a tractor and operate the machinery (if they haven’t had any previous experience). These are “one on one” instructions and we always make sure the person is competent in operations before leaving the property.
Do you have any grand plans for the future of Stan Cork Machinery?
Gary and I are getting towards the end of our ‘working life’. Perhaps the next generation will wish to expand – that will be their problem! We are fortunate that we live in a unique part of Australia. Drought normally doesn’t affect us – this season has been a little different, but we are still so much luckier than our neighbours to the west. We live in a great little community and I hope over the years we have given good service to our valued customers.