Family farming business built on strong partnerships

Neil Schimke knows that when you run any business, it’s the relationships and partnerships you form along the way that help you achieve success – like the relationship he has built with his local RDO Equipment branch.

Neil is a third generation lucerne and grain-grower, overseeing a 200-hectare operation in the Lockyer Valley, Queensland. His grandparents started their family farming business with only a 13-hectare piece of land nearly 70 years ago, running a two-horse plough and hand-picking their produce. Now Neil, his brother Kyle and father Colin oversee the expansive operation, which includes a large fleet of John Deere tractors, planters and balers, all backed by their local Gatton RDO Equipment team.

Neil says the support of his local dealership has been instrumental in building the business to what it is today.

“They’ve always understood what partnering with a high yield mixed cropping producer like us, with a rapid turnover of seasons, involves. We need partners who can work alongside us and scale with us as we need to,” Neil says.

Currently, Neil’s farm consists of around 80 hectares of lucerne, 80 hectares of cotton, and 80 hectares of mung beans in the summer, which is swapped out with a winter crop of wheat.

Neil has also recently diversified into cotton; due to the dry conditions the region has battled over the past few years. “We started trialling cotton about two years ago, as we needed a crop that could handle the heat, and the high salinity in the water. The cotton variety we’re using can handle humid conditions and has been performing quite well.

“In farming, it’s important to partner with people who know how you work and understand the way your seasons flow. That’s what we’ve got with the RDO Equipment team,” Neil says.

In November last year, Vanderfield was rebranded to RDO Equipment, bringing 29 branch locations under the one banner, and Neil says this hasn’t disrupted or changed the way he deals with the team.

“We have always had a great relationship with the local Gatton branch. We might only have a small problem or issue with the machine, but they’ll be on the phone to us straight away to troubleshoot, which in the long run saves us not only on downtime, but leads to greater productivity and profitability,” Neil says.

“There’s not one person there who doesn’t know what I need. They know what machines I’ve bought, and what hours I’m up to, and if there has been a problem with a previous machine.

“Even with the change in name, they’re still the same people with the same values. If anything, it means more for our business as we have access to more parts and machinery across both used and new equipment, plus more people from their team on hand to provide guidance and advice when and where we need it.

“Their values align with ours, and they can move with what we need. From the early days, until now, the service with RDO has just gotten better. They always have our back.”