What started as a small idea has grown into a business that has served the western NSW region and beyond for the past 20 years.
With a background in farming teamed with welding skills, Narromine’s Nick Powell established Western Ard Points to help farmers extend the usage of their machinery.
“We provide enhancement to agricultural implements and earthmoving equipment, any ground-engaging tools,” he explained.
“We prolong the life of the equipment, improving the wear life, so that there is less down time and it’s better for the hip pocket.”
Western Ard Points started in the early 2000s with a material called Tungsten Carbide which is used to coat parts such as plough points and grader blades to extend their usage.
“Tungsten Carbide is the hardest metal you can get,” Mr Powell explained. “It’s quite a unique product that we use. It gives wear, enhancement and longevity.”
Mr Powell was offered the business opportunity as a start up in the town. Narromine born and bred, he had worked away to gain experience and returned to the town to be involved in his family’s farm.
“At the time, hard facing was around but it wasn’t being used in the agricultural industry. It was being used in a smaller way,” he explained.
In the beginning, he asked local primary producers to test the product for its durability.
“Initially I used the farmers as guinea pigs to tell me what it was like. They said it was brilliant.”
With added technology, agriculture has been a changing landscape which has impacted the industry in a range of areas.
“We’ve seen many changes. A lot of the farmers are steering towards minimal or no till farming.
“The parts of the implement they used when we started have changed, what wears out is different. With minimum till, people looked at their bottom line. We’ve had to adapt to what they do.”
Mr Powell said that the increased use of chemicals in agricultural has also impacted the industry.
“More chemicals meant less tillage but I think we have gone full circle with chemical resistance to the use of implements again in conventional farming.”
“As it’s been evolving, we have become more involved.”
Mr Powell has moved with the changing needs of his customers and has a sound understanding of what’s required.
“As a farmer, you teach yourself a lot. You have the experience of being on the land. Knowing wear and tear, where wear and tear was needed on agricultural points, that was a bit of a help.”
With two decades’ experience now under his belt, Mr Powell’s knowledge extends to what’s happening in the industry. And after a long period of drought, 2020 has been a busy year for him.
“I was pretty busy from December onwards,” he said.
He explains that the business process involves ordering points and overlaying them with Tungsten Carbide then notifying customers of their availability.
Mr Powell sources various minimum till points through wholesalers that he knows he will need.
The beauty of this material also lies in its versatility.
“It’s specialised, you can put it where you want to put it. I work 90 per cent in agriculture but I have got into doing specialised stuff such as flour mill flails and choppers, sweep and shears, lawn mower and slasher blades and scraper cutting edges. I am certainly adapting to other industries.”
Mr Powell believes in the power of his product and how well it works. He can complete a job in a matter of minutes and says an implement with the added layer has a much longer lifespan.
“The addition is convenient and effective. It adds to how much longer they can last. It has 5-10 times the wear life as other ag parts.”
Mr Powell loves his location as Narromine is both close to Dubbo and centrally located.
“It’s a wonderful place to live, it has a wonderful sense of community and is good for raising kids.”
Attending field days and ag expos to meet new clientele, Mr Powell now deals with a range of customers from Nyngan, Walgett, Merriwa and Boorowa.
He mainly works alone but has a part-time staff member.
He describes the strength of Western Ard Points as the quality of the product while the seasonal shift of agriculture is something he needs to monitor.
“Not knowing the future can be tricky. Farmers do everything by the weather.”
Mr Powell describes expansion into manufacturing as an opportunity while growing competition can pose a threat to his business.
To combat the negatives, he believes in maintaining a competitive price structure and providing excellent customer service.
“Keeping prices low is my aim. It will continue to evolve as far as new improvements go. Things will always wear out so I will always have a place.”
Mr Powell’s advice to his younger self is simple.
“Broaden your horizons to other ideas.”
“If I had my time over again, I would have expanded earlier.”