THE Preston family has called time on its grain-trading operation at Temora, putting its sites and businesses up for sale to offer the new owner a foothold in the vibrant southern New South Wales market.
The businesses are AW Derrick & Son and Preston Grain, and with assets included, they are expected to fetch more than $3.5 million.
They are being offered by Elders Rural Property to enable respected grain trader Bill Preston to retire from the businesses he has run with his wife Helen Preston and his brother John Preston.
The offering includes three sites in Temora, including one beside the rail line, with a total storage capacity of around 30,000 tonnes, which is instrumental in supplying a number of major consumers.
They include beef feedlots, poultry operations and piggeries large and small, dairy farms and feedmills spread from the Southern Highlands to the Central Tablelands and western Riverina with grain sourced mainly from slopes and Riverina growers.
“We’re in the middle of a pretty strong area,” Bill Preston said.
With storage facilities, a freight division, a fertiliser agency and a customer base ranging from primary producers and wholesale consumers to toll-storage partners, the businesses offer a solid platform for the new owner.
Over the past four years, the vendors of the businesses have averaged a gross yield, or profit before tax, of 17 per cent per annum based on the current asking price of the assets and business.
Through silos, sheds, weighbridges, hoppers, an elevator tower, bunker storage and associated plant and equipment, plus four tippers and one B-double, the companies can service short and long-haul customers.
AW Derrick & Son was founded in Temora by Arthur Derrick, and Bill Preston bought the business in 1981.
Raised on a farm between Ardlethan and Tallimba, Mr Preston had earlier worked in family businesses in the district and at Adelong, as well as having a stint in machinery sales in Wagga Wagga.
As the domestic market has expanded and evolved, AW Derrick & Son as the owner of the assets and Preston Grain as the trading entity deal with a variety of commodities for the feed market.
They include barley, feed wheat, oats, corn, lupins and GM canola, which came into its own during the drought as a source of locally produced canola meal.
“We’re putting a lot of GM canola through this site for feedmills, and for people that are turning it into canola-meal pellets.”
One of several pellet manufacturers supplied by Preston Grain is Conqueror Milling Company at Cootamundra, and its general manager Alistair Pennington said he sourced a wide range of commodities through Preston Grain.
“Bill’s a likeable sort of a character, and he’s honourable and reliable,” Mr Pennington said.
“It’s a family business, and it’s good to deal with.”
The AW Derrick & Son and Preston Grain businesses jointly employ around six full-time and two casual staff.
Apart from the retiring Bill, they would be interested in staying on under new ownership.
“The strength of the business comes from our ability to service our customers with flexible operating conditions,” Preston Grain business manager Andrew Kell said, adding that Bill Preston has always put his customers first.
“We are also able to take opportunities in the market using our own storage facilities and freight assets.”
Mr Preston said Inland Rail, which includes a new line to be built between Illabo and Stockinbingal to the east of Temora, could bring further domestic and even export opportunities to the business, especially if its container-packing potential was developed.
“When that Melbourne-Brisbane line gets going, there’ll be more trains coming through from Griffith to meet up with it, so that will be good for Temora.”
Elders Rural Property executive Adam Chilcott has been appointed to oversee the sale, and expects the current strong demand for agribusiness and rural property will result in widespread interest for this type of business and asset.
“Additionally, the opportunity to retain key team members as part of the sale should provide new owners with the confidence of a smooth transition.”
Offers submitted up to 18 December will be considered.