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31 March 2021
BY DYLAN DE JONG
Les Gason can vividly remember a time when his father Frank was running his one-man motor trimming business out of an Ararat garage.
Now celebrating its 75th anniversary, manufacturing and engineering company Gason has expanded to a 3.2-hectare industrial facility at a Blake Street site and employs 140 people.
The company made its start in farming and agriculture, with tractor cabins and tillage equipment, and has since grown to become a major supplier of various products and services to business partners in Australia and internationally.
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Mr Gason, the company’s board of directors’ chairman, said the business’s long-lasting success could be attributed to commitment to the Ararat community and a willingness to diversify.
“It started with my mother and father putting everything into starting a small business when they first moved to Ararat. They never had any money behind them,” he said.
“My father wanted a better way of life for his family in a country environment, but I don’t think he ever expected his business to take off in the way it has.”
Seventy-five years after Frank Gason first started his business, a new generation of Gasons continue its legacy, with six family members spanning three generations filling roles with the manufacturing company.
The company began when Frank, his wife Jean and children relocated to Ararat from Geelong in 1946 to start his motor trimming business.
A year later, a Tatyoon farmer asked Mr Gason to build a tractor cabin, which became the first of thousands produced over a 40-year period.
It was a momentous step forward for Gason, as its cabins became a prominent feature on tractors across the country.
“We were picking up sales left, right and centre. We then set up a dealer network, starting in South Australia, New South Wales, into Queensland and Western Australia, which absolutely took off – we had 1200 dealers,” Mr Gason said.
Gason tractor cabins were market leaders right up until the market crashed in the ’80s.
However, Mr Gason said the market collapse was a catalyst to the company diversifying its operations.
The company started to design and manufacture agriculture equipment such as air-seeders, planter bars and fertiliser spreaders.
“We started importing farm machinery from the United States and we also developed what was one of the first air-seeders built worldwide, which was designed here and we had it tested at Melbourne University,” Mr Gason said.
“However, the farm machinery market can be volatile, and in February 1986, farm machinery sales just collapsed.
“We realised we needed to be manufacturing something else as well and were able to pick heaters with the brands Eureka and Jindara.
“We also have a sub-contract division where we do a lot of work for other people in laser cutting, folding, welding and painting.”
Mr Gason said an ability to adapt in the face of adversity was a clear sign of the company’s desire to continually diversify and grow.
“There are really three businesses operating out of this business today,” he said.
“That’s the way we’ve kept the business operating – it helps us to keep a good level of quality staff around and on top of that we’re able to ensure the business is secure from a future point-of-view.”
Mr Gason said as a family-owned business, Gason also understood the importance of supporting employment in the region.
“We have expanded to a fairly large workforce over the years, and we would like to take on more people, but we can’t get people in houses at the moment,” he said.
The company also runs an apprenticeship program for school leavers.
“I think its incumbent on us and tradespeople to train the next generation of tradespeople,” Mr Gason said.
The entire March 31, 2021 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!
The entire March 31, 2021 edition of AgLife is available online. READ IT HERE!