Links with Henty Machinery Field Days help spur on Kotzur silos

Andrew Kotzur supplies the global agricultural, mining, plastics and feedlot markets with storage facilities. Photo: Supplied

Andrew Kotzur supplies the global agricultural, mining, plastics and feedlot markets with storage facilities. Photo: Supplied

THE beginnings of global silo manufacturer, Kotzur, is intrinsically linked with Henty and the field days.

The company's founder, Ray Kotzur, delivered his first silo - a 450 bag, flat floored model - on December 8, 1962 to Henty farmer David Muller.

The silo still stands in its original location on the property "Dosyvale'', but within a year of the delivery, Ray Kotzur had moved on to manufacturing fully transportable silos on cone bases.

Today, Kotzur Pty Ltd has a diverse portfolio of national and international clients covering the agricultural, mining, plastics and food processing sectors. Ray Kotzur grew up on the family farm, The Pines, at Alma Park, showing business acumen at a young age.

He bought a tipping truck and won a contract with the local council to cart gravel, while making gates and sheds from recycled steel in the farm workshop. Ray's first foray into bulk grain storage was in the 1950s when he helped build a concrete silo on The Pines.

View more than 80 exhibitors in a virtual guide of the field days in an ACM special publication - Henty Machinery Field Days: To the Past, Present and Future. Click the image above to view.

View more than 80 exhibitors in a virtual guide of the field days in an ACM special publication - Henty Machinery Field Days: To the Past, Present and Future. Click the image above to view.

Kotzur managing director Andrew Kotzur recalls his father being an innovative engineer.

"He bought a petrol engine out of an Essex car that had a reputation of producing more smoke than power, and used it to make his first welder,'' Andrew said.

Ray formed the Modern Engineering and Construction Company Pty Ltd in 1953, expanding to a site next to the railway line in Walla Walla in 1962.

"The corner block was owned by Mates department store in Albury and they had plans to build a large department store in Walla,'' Andrew said.

"When the Mates Albury store burnt down, those plans went off the radar, and Dad built the workshop on that block.''

The easing of the post war steel shortage signalled a move into manufacturing across the country. Ray's business was no exception, and included the local dealership for John Deere farm machinery. He was showcasing and demonstrating the latest John Deere tractors at the first official Henty field day in 1963.

Ray Kotzur makes the first delivery of a silo in December, 1962, to the Muller family at Henty. Photo Kotzur family

Ray Kotzur makes the first delivery of a silo in December, 1962, to the Muller family at Henty. Photo Kotzur family

"I remember dad selling farm paddock gates by mail order and once a week a heap of gates would be taken to the railway station, and leave on a train,'' Andrew said.

By the 1967 Henty field days, Modern Engineering's list of products in the program was extensive.

It ranged from gates, sheds, silos, field bins, grain augers and used farm equipment to hammer mills, hay making machinery, harrows, tractors and headers. Ray even made a bulk clover harvesting machine, which was exported to South America - a model now resides in the Wagga Wagga museum.

"Dad won a contract with the Post Master General's department to produce metal cages - we still have layers of red paint on the floor from where those cages were dipped and left to drip dry,'' Andrew said.

In 1967, the business invested in major upgrades to the workshop and equipment, paving the way for a shift to almost exclusively bulk storage manufacture in the 1970s. Big crops and a growing demand for bulk grain storage away from the labour intensive bagged product meant Modern Engineering and Construction were unable to display at the 1969 Henty field days for the first time since inception.

Ray was keen to use continuous galvanised steel in the manufacture of his silos rather than corrugated iron sheets. "Using one continuous piece meant less rivets and bolts, it was quicker, more cost effective and resulted in a neat job with less potential for leaks,'' Andrew said.

He recalls accompanying his father on trips to the field days with silos and field bins for display. Andrew joined the company in 1982 and helped drive the move to gas sealed silos with a steeper hopper cone in 1985. The 1980s and early 1990s proved to be golden years for grain growers, and Kotzur's rode the wave.

"I remember selling more than 50 silos off the stand at Henty over three days during that period,'' Andrew said.

A display by Kotzur at the field days around four decades ago.

A display by Kotzur at the field days around four decades ago.

"Field days take quite a bit of effort to attend and are expensive, so we are selective about the ones we attend.

"Generally, each year we have sites at field days from central Queensland to Western Australia but for us Henty is one of the few we make a point of attending each year. "It is an invaluable opportunity to say hello to clients and shake their hands.

"Henty is timely to unveil new products as farmers are making their pre-harvest storage decisions in September.

"We see only one side of the grower philosophy towards on-farm storage with people who choose to do their own warehousing and marketing.''

The company used the Henty Machine of the Year Award to showcase their innovative drying silo, which features a complete change of air in the silo each 25-50 seconds.

Andrew said a focus on research had resulted in the development of non-chemical alternatives to fumigants for insect eradication.

"There is now a lot of focus on hygiene and grain quality in storage,'' he said. Kotzur has built an experienced workforce of almost 200 people across the country,

with factory and warehouse presence in Walla Walla, Toowoomba, Moree and Perth.

A display by Kotzur at the field days in more recent times.

A display by Kotzur at the field days in more recent times.

Equipped with two modern manufacturing and design facilities, the business can project manae the complete installation and commissioning of large bulk handling facilities for national and international clients.

Kotzur is a leading manufacturer of bulk solids storage and handling facilities for the agricultural, mining and manufacturing sectors.

They are committed to ensuring their clients are equipped with the latest technology and advice.

As for Henty, Andrew has only missed one field days since 1985.

"It's a given,'' he said.

  • The Henty Machinery Field Days will return September 22-23, 2021. Find out more by visiting www.hmfd.com.au.
This story Kotzur still pioneering advances in bulk storage 60 years on first appeared on The Border Mail.