From blueprints written on a pub beer coaster to state wide recognition, this has been the journey of Anthony Williams’ invention. We learn more about the man and the inspiration behind his machine …
> Tell us about your history
I was born in Armidale on the 16th December 1963, the fourth child and first son of Tony and Elizabeth Williams. I attended St Mary’s and O’Connor Catholic Schools, leaving year 10 in 1979, being more interested in sport than in learning about history, geography etc.
After leaving school, I started work in the family business as an apprentice mechanic and found that while attending TAFE, the teacher was talking about things that interested me, and I did quite well. I have always had a love of motorcycles – my first being a TY250 that Dad traded on a plow. Many happy hours were spent roaring out to the pine forest with my mates, much to Mum’s horror!
I still ride today, but only in the warmer months. My other passion is golf, which I’ve been playing since I was ten. I try to play most weekends, with the occasional trip away each year. I am married to Mandy and have two children. The eldest, Jessica left home this year to attend university in Wagga Wagga, while Matt is in year 6 at St Mary’s and drives us all mad with his love of sport – particularly rugby league, cricket and wrestling.
> What is your trade?
I am both a qualified auto and plant mechanic, and over the past 29 years have seen great changes in the technology of the tractors we sell. Particularly in the use of computers within the tractors that control engines, transmissions and hydraulic systems. Keeping up to date with the training, that enables me not only to fix but also to diagnose, is a never ending and ongoing challenge.
> What inspired Williams Seeders?
Over the years we have sold a lot of different brands of seeders; one of these was Agrow Drill. I would often have to travel to Wellington in the truck to pick up new seeders and would be travelling home and looking in the rear vision mirror thinking to myself, why can’t we build these?
So I drew up some plans on the back of a beer coaster and set to work sourcing the components needed to build one machine in my garage at home. To this day, I still have traces of paint on the floor; Mandy still hasn’t forgiven me.
I sold the first Williams Seeder to clients in Walcha in 2001, then in 2003 a shed that we leased to Gough & Gilmour became available.
I then approached a long time friend of mine, Stephen Grills, who is a qualified boiler maker who’d had many years with Obeico industries in Uralla, about manufacturing seeders.
He said,“You want to what?” And I showed him my blueprints (beer coaster). So through the expertise of Stephen and my knowledge of the needs of the clients, Williams Seeders was born.
> Williams Seeders
Together with Stephen, the machines have evolved to incorporate many different options, including a 20 run machine which will fit through a twelve foot opening (I used to say“Twelve foot gate,” but found that some twelve foot gates are not twelve feet! We also have a 24 run machine which fits through a 14 foot opening. Either machine can have a coil tyne, heavy duty single disc, spring release tyne or double disc option. The machines have been designed with ease of use, low maintenance and strength in mind to suit the New England conditions.
I have always said, “If they are built to suit New England farmers, they will work anywhere”. We have now sold 90 machines and are receiving enquiries from across the state. All the components are sourced within Australia, except the seed/fertilizer metering units, which we import from England.
We try to deal locally for as much as possible. I would like to take this opportunity to thank John at Armidale Air Conditioning & Sheet Metal, Jason at J & M Fabrications, Tony at Wards Auto Supplies, John at Beaurepairs and Kay at AOK signs for their continued support.
> Staff who Assist …
It is Stephen Grills who has taken this dream of mine from the beer coaster to the reality it is today. He is ably assisted by Lindsay Archibald, who has been with us for four years and is now an apprentice metal fabricator. Greg Hickey who helps out wherever needed on a part time basis.
My sister Lisa orders the materials and parts required – she also does the book work and all the other things I hate doing. John Kleindenist paints all our seeders, and we are very lucky to have someone with his skill and attention to detail. I have also had many young men who are studying fabrication as part of their schooling come and spend time with us to complete their work placement component.
> Williams Seeders: Where to Now?
I see a very big future for Williams seeders, as we have only scratched the surface as sales go. I plan to market the machines to a wider area, as I feel they are well suited to most Australian conditions. I intend to focus on the manufacturing of the seeders, and as the manager of Tony Williams Machinery, tractor sales and service. I have no plans to branch out into manufacturing other types of machinery.
> What do you like most about your job?
I get great satisfaction seeing the finished product being delivered to the customer, knowing it is going to work well for them for many years to come. I value the great relationship I have with our clients, and many have become good friends.
> Thanks for your time.