By Gabrielle Hall
Anyone who knows farming, viticulture and even motorbikes in South Australia has most likely heard of WSB Distributors.
And it is easy to know why, after 80 years in business in the Clare Valley – and now also in Saddleworth and Jamestown – it is a name that is synonymous with agricultural machinery sales and service.
These days Phil and Rob Stanway head up the business, but it was their grandfather, a then young accountant AJ ‘Johnny’ Walker who started the legacy in 1938 originally as a tax and land agency known as AJ Walker.
AJ Walker was to see many guises over the years – taxation and property, fuel and cars, and a garage for servicing cars set up in 1952 in the very same building the business’s head office operates from today in Clare’s main street.
Phil and Rob’s late father Brian arrived on the scene after moving to Clare from Millicent in 1959.
He met their mother Raelene – who was working in her father’s business – soon after arriving in town and it was the beginning of a wonderful partnership in both marriage and a business that would eventually become known as WSB Distributors.
WSB’s commitment to service has been ever-strong throughout its history, however the business has honed its focus on agricultural and viticultural machinery sales and service in more recent years and gone from strength to strength.
Brothers Robert, a co-director and WSB’s accountant and economist, and Phil, co-director and sales manager, now head up the leading machinery dealership, although Raelene remains an ever-present guide.
With three branches now operating across the Mid North the business has seen, and survived, massive industry changes, including a rationalisation of farm machinery dealerships and machinery manufacturers.
WSB Distributors now employs 43 full-time staff, three junior and three adult apprentices, and has a fleet of 16 on-farm service vehicles servicing as far as the Eyre Peninsula due to demand for their expertise.
“I’m really proud of the company’s longevity and our staff,” Phil says.
“We have several staff who have notched up 30, 40 and 50 years of service but the effort of all the staff regardless of how long they have worked for the company is what keeps the business going and we couldn’t do it without them.
“I think also part of our success has been our ability to stay ahead of the game and quickly recognise what will work and what won’t.
Massey Ferguson has been a strong foundation for the success for more than 50 years and introducing other brands such as Manitou and Kubota has supported the business well.”
Header image: Rob and Phil Stanway in front of WSB Distributors in Clare, originally started by their grandfather, a then young accountant AJ ‘Johnny’ Walker in 1938. Photo by Gabrielle Hall.
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