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24 June 2020
By DYLAN DE JONG
From the sweeping hills of northern Italy to the sparse farmland of the Wimmera – that is where fate has led Horsham entrepreneur and migrant Mario Plazzer.
Mr Plazzer, 80, believes his vast experiences and ambition to try his hand at anything is what shaped his success amid the heartland of western Victoria’s broadacre paddocks.
His business Wimmera Mallee Ag is making a profound charge this year, helping to keep the wheels turning in the agricultural industry throughout the uncertainty of COVID-19.
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Demand for the farm machinery and service his workshop provides has remained high during the pandemic.
Mr Plazzer said he planned to continue to do what he and his team did best – servicing the farming community across the Wimmera.
“We’ve had a record year this year. We’ve put ourselves into a good situation,” he said.
“Farmers have done well in the past year and as long as people need to put food on their plate, they have to rely on the land.”
From humble beginnings in 1988, suppling and servicing general farm machinery near the corner of Hamilton and Golf Course roads in Horsham, where it remains today, the business now meets the needs of clients nationally, stocking the latest in farming technology.
The business has also employed a workforce of more than 35 since opening.
Business manager Jodie Eagle and senior mechanic Peter Hobbs have been with the business for 31 years, while ag technician Glen Hobbs has been part of the team for 24 years.
Ms Eagle said she had enjoyed working alongside Mr Plazzer and supporting him for the duration of the journey.
“Everything’s got to be on point. We’ve had some bad years, struggling, but Mario’s always led the way,” Ms Eagle said.
“We haven’t slowed down and we haven’t stopped. We just keep thinking ahead, because we don’t know what’s going to happen with overseas trading.
“But this is a good industry to be in at the moment, because farmers are still out there.”
When Mr Plazzer caught up with The Weekly Advertiser to share his abundance of stories, it was hard for him to pinpoint the exact moment he made his transition to the Wimmera’s backbone industry.
Mr Plazzer is a builder by trade but considers his willingness to branch into other fields as key behind his entrepreneurial success.
He said he even ‘almost made it’ as a professional accordion player before he made the move to agriculture.
Mr Plazzer first cut his teeth in the industry in the 1960s, when he and his brother John built and rented buildings on land they had bought including Wimmera Mallee Ag’s site.
He said he remembered making just 10 percent commission per sale on farm machinery in the early days of Wimmera Mallee Ag.
The brothers went on to run their own businesses. Mario stayed in agriculture, while John went back to his roots to start his own commercial building business, which now has his son Rob Plazzer at the wheel.
The Plazzers’ presence in the area dates back to the 1950s when the family migrated from the Trentino region in northern Italy.
Mr Plazzer was just 10 when he started to make a life in Horsham.
“I’m Italian, but of Austrian descent. My father was Austrian, but then Italy lost the Second World War and a piece of Austria was given to Italy as war reparations so we became Italians. In my DNA, I’m German, but I came to Australia as an Italian,” he laughed.
From young ages, John and Mario learnt the building trade from their father, Egidio Plazzer.
Mr Plazzer said it was his father who instilled in him at an early age a drive to succeed.
He said he had worked ‘tirelessly’ to get to where he was today.
Mr Plazzer’s daughter Teresa added that a strong family had also provided powerful work-ethic foundations.
“His father pulled him out of school at 14 to work to help feed the family and put his two brothers and two sisters through school,” she said.
Mr Plazzer said he had always had faith in the Wimmera as a prime producing area in national agriculture.
“Horsham has a lot going for it. With the south as sheep country, and north as wheat and cereals, Horsham is in a fortunate position,” he said.
“I remember in the years of former Prime Minister Robert Menzies before dollars and cents – when they still had pounds. Sheep farmers used to get up to £3 for every pound of wool and people around Hamilton and Horsham south became millionaires, establishing some prominet families in the region.
“Wimmera Mallee Ag plans to be around for another 32 years at least.”
The entire June 24, 2020 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!
The entire June 24, 2020 edition of AgLife is available online. READ IT HERE!