A Universal success for WA's Clarke family

Clarke family builds a runaway success with passion, pride and good design


Livestock Leaders
UNIVERSAL SUCCESS: Bruce Clarke and his son, Ben, have established a thriving manufacturing business building Universal feeders and trailers at Goomalling, Western Australia.

UNIVERSAL SUCCESS: Bruce Clarke and his son, Ben, have established a thriving manufacturing business building Universal feeders and trailers at Goomalling, Western Australia.

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Advertiser content: Former WA farmers, Bruce Clarke, and his son, Ben, have built a thriving manufacturing business making trailers and livestock feeders.

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When WA farmer, Bruce Clarke, decided to modify a sheep feeder back in 2007 he set his family on a path into a thriving manufacturing business.

He liked the design of the saliva lick sheep feeder but it wasn't built strong enough for him.

Friends and acquaintances were so impressed with his redesign they asked him to build some for them. "Within three months we were selling 50 feeders a week," he said.

Last year the Clarke family's UTF Australia sold 2400 sheep and cattle feeders and 270 trailers to customers across the country. The business is still growing and now fielding interest from overseas.

As large-scale sheep and crop farmers based at Goomalling, 140km east of Perth, the Clarkes often modified machinery for better performance.

They were self-taught mechanics and welders with an eye for innovation and design. Bruce's father, Roy, once hooked up three International tractors (which he had equipped with Perkins 354 motors) in tandem to pull six ploughs.

Before switching from farming to manufacturing, the Clarkes were trading around 25,000 sheep a year and cropping 4000ha along with running a harvest contracting business.

They retained part of their Goomalling farm for the headquarters of UTF Australia which is run by Bruce, 59, and son, Ben, 29.

The pair always carry their mobile phones so potential customers can talk directly to them at any time.

The Clarkes' over-arching passion is building farm equipment that is well designed and strong.

BUILT TOUGH: Universal feeders can be towed empty from paddock to paddock or moved by forklift even if they contain grain.

BUILT TOUGH: Universal feeders can be towed empty from paddock to paddock or moved by forklift even if they contain grain.

They started out building their Universal feeders but quickly branched into Universal trailers in four basic configurations which can be adapted to fit a farmer's particular needs.

"We had always made our own trailers. I felt the market didn't have trailers purpose built for farmers.

"Nobody was looking after farmers, so we designed a trailer that had four configurations which can handle a lot of farm jobs that require a trailer," Mr Clarke said.

The trailers can be quickly reconfigured into multiple applications by one person to suit a particular job such as carrying livestock, fencing materials, class S7 chemicals or bulky materials.

They also make a tipping model with a tipping angle steep enough to unload wet sand.

Their versatility has extended their customer base for trailers from agriculture to many other industries.

All the trailers are trucked from the Goomalling headquarters while the feeders are supplied in flatpacks to 31 depots (many of them operated by farmers) across the country for assembly and delivery.

The sheep and cattle feeders are built on skids and can be towed from paddock to paddock empty.

Inbuilt forklift sleeves made out of RHS steel combined with the strong trussed base and feeder allowed them to be lifted with grain in them, if done carefully.

"One of the biggest problems with a lot of feeders is their rain shelter that sticks out from the feeder. If you go in with forks on the tractor you can bend that rain shelter (if you make a mistake)," Mr Clarke said.

He said Universal feeders were so strong the whole thing would move before the rain shelter was bent. Cattle also can't damage the shelter, he said.

The Clarkes are pedantic about the quality of materials used in their products. The feeder is made from 2mm galvanised sheets where required, plus marine grade stainless steel bolts and nuts in securing the adjusters, plus all sheets have high levels of zinc protection.

The 4200-litre Universal Feeder is the biggest saliva lick feeder on the market and can contain enough grain to last for weeks.

Two adjusters allow farmers to control feeding and stop gorging and grain waste. A full length lid provides ease of filling.

The Clarkes make a lot of sales through word of mouth but also showcase their products at major field days in WA and across the Nullabor including Henty and AgQuip in NSW, Elmore, Sungold, Sheepvention and Wimmera in Victoria and Lucindale, Burra and Yorke Peninsula field days in SA.

ROADSHOW: The Clarke family uses field days in eastern Australia as a major showcase for their products. Ben Clarke is pictured with fiancé, Bernie McCarthy.

ROADSHOW: The Clarke family uses field days in eastern Australia as a major showcase for their products. Ben Clarke is pictured with fiancé, Bernie McCarthy.

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