Philip Hawker has worked as an Agronomist for over 25 years both in Western Australia and Victoria. He has held various industry roles, the last being the Manager of the Victorian and Southern NSW Elders Agronomy team from 2000 to 2005. Philip has an Honours Degree in Agricultural Science from the University of WA and is a graduate of the Williamson Community Leadership Program. He lives with his family at Beaufort on a property which they farm. Philip is the Business Manager – Agronomy & Client Services for Western AG.
0418 529 699
Ashley Miller has an Agricultural Degree and an extensive career in private enterprise. He is a current board member of AgLink, and previously a board member of both the Aerial Agricultural Association of Australia (AAAA) and the Victorian Agricultural Chemical Advisory Committee (VACAC). He has worked as an agricultural pilot and company manager for 25 years both in the Western District and Wimmera regions in Victoria. Ashley is the Business Manager – Operations for Western AG.
Meet Our Agronomists
Derrinallum / Skipton
Gerard O’Brien obtained an Applied Science (Ag) Degree from VCAH Dookie in 1990. He has worked on several broadacre mixed farms in the Western District before commencing as an Agronomist firstly in Ballarat in 1998 and then later at Skipton. He commenced employment at the inception of Western AG and continues to provide agronomic services to a loyal client base. He has a keen personal interest in pastures and livestock, as well as his passion for broadacre crops.
Derrinallum / Bannockburn / Willaura
James Jess completed a Bachelor of Science (Ag) at Melbourne University (Dookie) before commencing with the Birchip Cropping Group (BCG). Over three years, as a technical officer and field agronomist, James conducted field trials involving barley agronomy, resistance management, nitrogen and fungicide management, as well as various trials in precision agriculture. James has been a Western Ag Agronomist since August 2009 working in the Skipton, Derrinallum, Willaura, Cressy and Bannockburn areas.
Bannockburn / Cressy
Trudy previously worked for the agronomic service provider, Agvise, in the area since 2010. Prior to this, she worked for The Lentil Company (TLC) and IAMA in the Wimmera. She has over 15 years experience in the agricultural industry and completed a Diploma in Applied Sciences (Ag Services) at Longerenong College. Trudy works from our Bannockburn branch and provides agronomic services mostly under a fee for service (F4S) arrangement for AgInvest Management, a company associated with Western AG.
Ballarat / Skipton
Lachie worked as a Landmark Agronomist for three years at Urana working predominately in dryland crop and pasture production systems, including canola, cereals and pulses. Prior to this placement, he worked for two years in merchandise at Skipton and a period in Canada in a construction role. Lachie holds a Bachelor of Agriculture from Melbourne University, Parkville Campus, and a Diploma in Agronomy. Lachie grew up on a grazing and viticultural property at Avenel, near Euroa, in Victoria. He is married to Denise and they have a four-month-old baby girl. He is a keen footballer, enjoys general fitness activities and is a proud Essendon supporter.
Nathan started his career in agriculture with a local Bordertown retailer in 2007 immediately from high school. He completed a Degree in Agriculture from Charles Sturt University by distance education part time whilst working and graduated in 2013. His development initially covered local trial work and he progressed to full time agronomy work in 2011. Nathan grew up on a family farm in the Pine Hill area, 20ks NE of Bordertown. His interests outside of work include family, football, cricket and golf which he plays locally. Nathan provides sports coverage on local radio on Saturday mornings and is a keen Carlton supporter.
Hamilton / Mortlake
Claudia joined Western Ag in 2018 and currently works as an Agronomist between the Hamilton and Willaura regions. After completing a Bachelor of Ag at Melbourne Uni in 2014 Claudia spent time working in trials research with Southern Farming Systems before moving into the Agronomy role. Originally growing up in the Geelong region she now resides in Mortlake with her husband Tom and enjoys playing netball and tennis in her spare time.
Hamilton / Naracoorte
Samuel Hay-Smith was raised in the Kiewa Valley in North East Victoria where his family ran a small beef operation. He went to school in Albury New South Wales and university at Charles Sturt University Wagga Wagga NSW where he completed his Bachelor of Agricultural Science in 2017. Sam, also when at Wagga Wagga, attended NSW TAFE Riverina where he completed his Diploma of Agriculture and was a recipient of an international scholarship to study pastoral/horticultural (potato) agronomy in the United Kingdom in 2014. Sam has worked for the past 3 years in the Lowe South East of South Australia (Mt Gambier) and in South West Victoria (Hamilton) where he works with pastoral clients in dairy, beef/sheep production and also horticulture with commercial and seed potato production. Sam is also a keen hockey player and has played hockey for the past 10 years since school, he also is involved with volunteering in the local CFA in NE Vic and now Hamilton in SW Vic and enjoys traveling Australian and internationally.
Bannockburn / Cressy
Ashley Perkins has over 20 years experience as an agronomist. Ashley started at Jeparit in the Southern Mallee in 1990, before moving to Inverleigh in the Western District in 1997. He has vast experience with raised bed and broadacre cropping, pasture renovation including lucerne in the Western District. He lives at Bannockburn with his wife and two children.
Horsham / Nhill / Goroke
Matt Witney has worked for the last five years from Horsham as a private agronomist and consults with farmers across the Wimmera and Mallee. Prior to this, Matt has held a number of positions including farm management with the Warakirri Group and has more than 20 years experience with minimal tillage farming systems. Matt has a Diploma of Agriculture (Rural Business Management), and a passion for crop nutrition and no till farming systems.
Brendan originates from Mathoura in southern NSW where his family has dairying and broadacre cropping interests. Since completing a Bachelor of Ag Science at La Trobe University, Brendan has worked as a crop and pasture agronomist in the Skipton area for the last 3 years. Brendan is a keen footballer, currently playing for the Ballarat Football Netball Club, and enjoys all activities found at community sporting clubs. Brendan resides in Ballarat and will service existing and new Ballarat and Derrinallum clients.
Nhill / Kaniva
Darcy completed a Bachelor of Science with first class honours from Melbourne University in 2015 majoring in plant science. Darcy was raised on a grazing property at Avenel in central Victoria where he worked since graduating. The combination of his area of study and work has provided him with a high level of theoretical and practical knowledge within grazing systems and fast track development in the Broadacre Cropping systems. Darcy brings a broad skill set to Western AG, is brother of Ballarat based Agronomist Lachlan Bullen and is a keen Essendon supporter.
Bordertown / Keith
Nat completed her Honours Degree in Agricultural Science at the University of Adelaide and after graduating worked for a short time for CRT in Keith. She then joined a local Bordertown business as an agronomist where she worked for nearly 20 years. Nat lives in Keith and her clientele is predominately between Keith and Bordertown. With family members, she also manages a mixed farm near Keith grazing merino sheep, cattle plus growing crops for stock feed. Nat’s interests include endurance cycling, walking, running and hiking. She plans to climb the highest peak in each state of Australia and is our first Adelaide Crows supporter.
Kate recently completed a Bachelor of Agricultural Business Management at Charles Sturt University Wagga Wagga, with her final year being completed via distance education while working at Western Ag. Kate is based at Bordertown, where she grew up on a family farm of sheep and cropping, in which she is still actively involved in. Prior to university, Kate worked on a dairy farm and travelled Canada and America. Kate has personal interests in water skiing, travelling, camping, tennis and livestock.
Zac grew up on our family sheep and cattle farm in between Bordertown and Naracoorte, at Western Flat. After starting schooling at Bordertown Zac to Adelaide as a boarding student to complete his final high school years. Zac went on to complete a bachelor of Agricultural Science at the University of Adelaide, finishing in late 2018. Zac started at Western AG in December of 2018 as an agronomist servicing both Bordertown and Naracoorte. He is plays football for the Bordertown Roosters and cricket for the Mighty Western Flat Wombats.
Horsham / Nhill
Tim Hofmaier works as an Agronomist at the Western AG Horsham branch. He has a Diploma of Applied Science (Ag) and has over 10 years experience in the agricultural sector. He started his career in Naracoorte, before moving back to further his knowledge in broadacre cropping in the Wimmera. Tim currently looks after a client base throughout the Victorian Wimmera and Mallee regions and particularly enjoys working with farmers on a day to day basis.
Hamilton / Willaura / Horsham
Matthew Barber was raised in the Glenisla region between Horsham and Hamilton in Victoria, where he now lives with his wife and their small farm enterprise. He has been an agronomist for last 9 years in the North East, Southern Riverina & Western District of Victoria. Matthew has completed an Advanced Diploma in Agriculture at Longerenong College and has a passion for broadacre cropping, pasture production and summer crops.
David joined our Agronomy team and is based from our Ballarat Branch. He comes with a wealth of knowledge and experience, primarily specialising in the Potato segment. For many years David worked for McCain’s, has spent significant time in the local rural sector and, more recently, branched into his own consultancy business. David is an extremely well-respected individual in the agricultural industry and returns to rural retail with Western AG to concentrate not only on maintaining the consultancy business with his horticultural clients but developing all clients with their pasture and cropping systems.
Horsham / Goroke
Sam grew up on the family farm at Gymbowen in the West Wimmera and worked extensively for seven years as a farmhand for several large farming operations concentrating in Broadacre cropping. Prior to this, he spent three years working as an accountant for a Horsham accounting firm. Sam joined the Horsham Branch initially in a Merchandise Sales role but has now transitioned to a full time Agronomy position. Sam has a wide range of knowledge in the progressive broadacre farming industry and lives in Horsham with his wife Chloe and young daughter Leni.
Clare grew up in Wagga Wagga, NSW and enjoyed growing up on the grandparent’s small hobby farm south of Wagga in Mangoplah. She completed her studies at Adelaide University studying a Bachelor of Agricultural Science, once her competition she worked for South Australian Research Development Institute (SARDI) and focussed on entomology which took her all around South Australia. Since Clare moved down to the south-east with her partner where she resides in Bordertown, she enjoys playing women’s football in the Veolia Limestone Coast League and netball for Kaniva/Leeor.
Ballarat / Kyneton
Jaron grew up on his parents broadacre cropping farm located at Donald in North-West Victoria. He worked seasonally there whilst completing a double degree in Agricultural Science and Commerce at La Trobe University in Bundoora. His passions in agriculture include yield maximisation and soil health. Outside of work, Jaron’s interests include camping, fishing and motorbike riding.
Finance & Administration
Paul Barker is the company Finance Manager, a role that involves all financial aspects across the Western AG business. He has a Commerce Degree and is a Fellow of the National Institute of Accountants. Prior to joining Western AG, he has held Finance Manager positions in private organisations in the Western District for 10 years and also worked for a Chartered Accounting firm in Warrnambool for 5 years.
Frances Reid joined Western Ag’s finance and administration team in 2019. Her role is primarily in accounts receivable and administration duties. Frances moved to South West Victoria from Canberra in 2017. She holds diplomas in Business Administration and Business Management, and is currently undertaking a Bachelor of Commerce with a major in Finance. Frances has a wide range of experience in private enterprise, including hospitality, plastic fabrication, finance and administration, and sales. Prior to moving to Victoria, she worked for Pistol Australia as their financial officer and magazine editor
Christine O’Flaherty joined Western Ag in 2015 as a member of the Finance and Administration team. Her work involves accounts, invoicing, data entry and customer service. Christine is originally from south west Victoria and has returned home after 16 years in Queensland. She holds a degree in Commerce and has extensive experience in the banking sector and also worked in the Finance Department of Queensland Treasury.
Judy Miller is also a member of the Finance and Administration team. Her work activities are mainly involved with Accounts Receivable (A/R) and fiscal audit. She has worked extensively in private enterprise and brings over 40 years of account and finance management experience to the group.
Branch & Merchandise Managers
0419 801 583
Southern Regional Manager
Brad Everett has a local farming family background and has worked within the agricultural retail Industry for the past 17 years after starting out in an aircraft support role for Western Aerial. He is well known throughout the Western District by both farmers and key Suppliers to the business. He has held the role of Merchandise Manager since the company began operations in 2005 and his main responsibility now is the Western AG Derrinallum Branch Manager.
0428 236 966
Pat has been employed in the agricultural industry for over 25 years, with the majority of this time selling all types of rural merchandise to wholesalers and retail clients. He has held various roles with Corporate Ag companies since the early nineties, including Merchandise Manager, State Inventory Manager and a Regional Merchandise Manager role. He has a great understanding of the local area and has been providing advice on animal health and general merchandise for a number of years.
0438 397 544
Karl Drever has been involved in the agricultural industry for over 22 years. Being brought up on the land, Karl started in the industry with Stephen Pasture Seeds and, after 18 years there, ended up in a Sales Manager role with experience in all regions of Victoria and the South East of SA. The past 5 years has seen Karl work as a Pasture Specialist in the Ballarat Region. Karl brings a wealth of knowledge to Western Ag and is keen to build and continue lasting relationships with local growers from the new Ballarat Store.
0428 909 252
Derrinallum / Willaura
Aaron Starick grew up in the Wimmera and has been working in the agricultural industry for nearly 15 years, with most of that spent in the animal health and merchandise side of the business. After being in the Wimmera for 12 years, he made the move south to take up the role as merchandise and animal health specialist at our store in Derrinallum. Aaron has a wide range of farming knowledge which is essential to our business.
0488 233 436
Northern Regional Manager
Mark Hoffmann comes from a rural background and has worked in the agricultural retail industry for 15 years after starting out his career as a product salesman. He is well known throughout the Wimmera and has worked in Horsham as the Merchandise Manager for several agricultural companies before taking a position as Branch Manager for Western AG when the company began operations in Horsham in April, 2010.
Gary Hall 0429 433 122
Gary has spent his whole life in the Nhill area and has worked previously for Lowan Whole Foods. He has been with Graincorp since 2006, in the role of Grain Services Manager, and was responsible for operations at Nhill, Kaniva, Lillimur and surrounding sites. Gary has a high level of expertise and experience in local farming. His attention to detail and commitment to follow up and solve farmer’s issues are of immense benefit to local growers.
0427 619 670
Damien is a well-known Bordertown local who joined the agricultural sector in 2005. Prior to this he worked for a tarpaulin manufacturing business locally for 8 years. He is passionate about customer service and has a high level of expertise in Animal Health and General Merchandise products. He has all round knowledge being across both the crop protection and fertiliser range also. Outside of work, interests include basketball, skiing and all sports in general. Damien is married with three daughters and is a proud supporter of the Essendon football club.
0409 741 427
Kyneton / Avenel
Katrina Ridgway has recently moved to the North East region of Victoria based in Avenel. Katrina has been involved in the rural industry for the past 24 years and started her working career in the rural industry with on-farm bookkeeping, before taking on a livestock operations role for a local Tasmanian meat processor. After taking a short break to start a family, she recommenced her career working in rural merchandise and sales for TP Jones in Tasmania, with a focus on Animal Health and Whole Farm Production. Katrina has been a member of the Western Ag team for several years and is excited to be managing our new store in Kyneton and meeting new clients.
0458 441 115
Troy Kollegger has lived in the Bannockburn region all his life and has been employed in the agricultural industry for over 15 years. Troy has vast experience in Branch and Merchandise Management within the agricultural market where he really enjoys forming lasting business relationships with Suppliers and clients. Troy has broad agricultural product knowledge and specialises in animal health and general merchandise products.
0447 166 278
Danny has lived in Kaniva since 1989 and was previously employed with Elders in Kaniva for over seven years, prior to this he worked on a broadacre cropping farm and as a shed builder. Danny’s interests include cycling and AFL having previously played for Kaniva Leeor United Football Club, he has continued to support the club as a past committee member and currently runs for the A grade team. Danny is married with two daughters aged seven and five.
0429 168 020
Tim has a strong background in agriculture which started on his family’s sheep and cattle property at Penhurst, in the Western District. For the past 8 years, Tim has been employed by a local farm supplies business, with a focus on animal health, general merchandise and fertiliser sales/logistics. Tim resides in Hamilton and has strong interest and involvement with local sport and enjoys motorbike riding on & off road.
Steven Booley is a local farmer from Inverleigh who has lived in the region for 40 years. He has a wealth of experience in growing irrigated and dry land lucerne and also produces quality prime lambs. Steven is a qualified plumber by trade, but prefers and enjoys working on his farming enterprise and contributing to Western AG.
Anthony ‘Fab' Fabris lives on a farm 30kms south of Bordertown in Western Flat and has done so for the past 20 years. Fab and his wife, Denise run a Murray Grey cattle stud called 'Beeamma' on the property. Fab and Denise have 3 kids, with the oldest 2 in the workforce whilst their youngest has just completed year 12 studies and is off to Adelaide for further studies. Fab has previous experience in the rural retail industry having worked for Castec Rural Naracoorte, and Elders Padthaway some time ago. In recent times he has been the Bridgestone Manager and Spare Parts Manager for local business, Wickham Flower. Fab and his family enjoy the farm and agriculture life, water skiing, camping and himself follows the Swans in the AFL.
Brian has spent his whole life in the Kewell area, North of Horsham and has 32 years experience in farming, which included both cropping and livestock operations. He has a strong practical agricultural background and is a member of the Wimmera Machinery Field Days committee. Brian has both a delivery and merchandise sales role, with a set weekly delivery schedule across the Horsham and Nhill Branches and the Kaniva and Goroke Service Centres.
Although born at Mortlake in the Western District Mark has spent most of his life in the Wimmera at Nhill. Prior to taking on the Merchandise role with Western Ag at Nhill in 2018 Mark had over 35 years experience working in various Warehouse, Merchandise and Sales positions. Mark’s wife Paula runs her family’s broad acre cropping farm and they have two daughters and a son. Mark’s family share a passion for sport having been involved in Football, Cricket, Tennis, Golf, Netball and Basketball teams at Nhill and Horsham. Mark also has a real passion for the Mighty Hawks
Animal Health & General Merchandise Specialists
Geordie Elliott is from Breakaway Creek in SW Victoria. After studying beef and sheep production at Longreach Pastoral College in QLD, Geordie has worked in a multitude of sectors of the livestock industry. He has held various roles in commercial, stud and feedlot operations throughout the entire East Coast of Australia. More recently, Geordie held a Territory Management role for a livestock supplements company managing all aspects of ruminant nutrition within grazing systems. Geordie has won several scholarships and attended study tours of the cattle and sheep industries in North America and the United Kingdom. In his free time, Geordie, and his partner Crystal, run the Corumbene Brangus and Prairie Falls Murray Grey studs on their farm “Oak Park” in SW Victoria.
Kelly grew up on a family cropping and contracting enterprise in the UK and has lived locally in Dunkeld since 2010. After graduating with a Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Animal Health, Kelly has worked on farms and for shearing and livestock contractors across the UK, Australia and New Zealand gaining extensive on-farm experience. More recent work in rural merchandise and farm management software has consolidated Kelly’s strong animal health and livestock production knowledge. Kelly is 2019 graduate from Leadership Great South Coast and is currently undertaking post graduate studies in Agricultural Health and Medicine through Deakin University and is passionate about raising awareness of health, safety and well-being in our farming communities.
Samantha joined the Western Ag team in 2018 as merchandise Sales and animal health. She Grew up in the Wimmera on a sheep, cattle and cropping property where Samantha loved spending all her spare weekends when home from boarding school. Samantha loves animals and could never see herself without having a pet or working with livestock. Whenever she can get a chance, she’s out riding her horses and loving the life on the land. Samantha now lives in the western District with her partner Gerard. Samantha competed in the Worldskills challenge and won gold for her region in and went on to represent Victoria in Perth for Agriculture.
Glenn grew up on sheep property in Woorndoo in South West Victoria and lives in Mortlake with his wife and 2 children. He is an active member of his local community and has spent most of his adult life in committee and management roles with both the local Football Netball clubs and the local Cricket clubs. Glenn originally worked for Western Ariel and Western AG in logistics roles as well as a period of time working in the tyre industry and at a rural merchandise store in Tatyoon. He has also worked in hospitality for nearly 25 years. Glenn has extensive merchandise knowledge and has recently taken on the role of Merchandise Sales and Logistics at our Willaura branch where he is working together with the Agronomy and Animal Health team to service existing clients and to provide a service for our growing client base at Willaura and the surrounding areas
Janette has lived in the SE of South Australia all her life and currently resides in Kingston SE with her husband Joe. Janette has over 18 years’ experience within the agricultural industry including 12 years within the Animal Health and Rural Merchandise segments. Janette has held various positions with Resellers including Merchandise Management and Sales and, more recently, Animal Health technical roles. She has a sound knowledge and a very strong passion for increasing client’s profitability through better animal health and nutrition practices.
Alana works within the Bordertown Branch in a Merchandise Sales and Administration role with a particular interest in Animal Health, she is looking forward to working closely with the Animal Health team and growing her knowledge. Alana grew up in Melbourne, yet has always been surrounded by and passionate about Agriculture with her family fine wool Merino sheep property 40km South of Ballarat. This inspired her to complete an Advanced Diploma of Agriculture and Diploma of Agronomy at Longerenong Ag College. Currently residing on her husbands family property 15km East of Bordertown, she has a range of interests enjoying the outdoors she loves weekends spent in Grampians, health and fitness, loves to socialise and travel.
Jonty grew up in the Kaniva area and attended Kaniva College. During high school Jonty completed his Cert III in Agriculture at Longernong College as a school-based apprentice and spent 5 years working on a local farm. Jonty then moved to Adelaide where he spent the next 5 years in the Civil industry before heading back to Kaniva and following his passion by joining Western AG in 2018 as an Animal Health and General Merchandise specialist. When not at work Jonty enjoy riding dirt-bikes, skiing, playing footy for the mighty Kaniva Leeor Cougars and is an avid Richmond supporter.
Chris grew up on a small sheep farm at Birregurra but got his passion for agriculture after spending weekends growing up on friends’ farms. His first jobs out of Secondary school was at Lidgerwood Seeds and working on potato farms around Birregurra. Chris the attained his Certificate 3 in Turf Management in Melbourne before travelling to the UK to work as a Landscape Gardener. He worked in the landscape and construction industry’s before obtaining a job with Landmark Colac in 2013. He then transferred to Landmark Bannockburn in 2014 where he worked in merch for 5 years. More recently Chris was Sales Manager at Lidgerwood Seeds before joining the crew at Western Ag in Bannockburn. Chris played football for Birregurra for over 15 seasons and currently plays cricket and golf at Birregurra as well as enjoying mountain biking, music and gardening. He lives with his wife and 3 kids and Is a diehard Melbourne supporter.
Raquel grew up in the Western District and Wimmera and has a strong practical agricultural background including working on farm and operating her own livestock pregnancy scanning business. She began working for Western AG at our Horsham Branch and has recently moved with her family to Bullengarook, where she continues to be part of the Western AG Animal Health team looking after clients in the Ballarat and Macedon Ranges area. Raquel is excited to be part of the new branch development in Kyneton and is looking forward to building and continuing lasting relationships with local producers to achieve the best possible results from their livestock production. Outside of work Raquel and her family enjoy Campdrafting, travelling to events across Victoria and interstate.
Emily has always been involved in the agricultural industry, growing up on a Sheep Station near Pooncarie, NSW. Emily has recently completed an Advanced Diploma of Agribusiness Management and a Diploma of Agronomy at Longerenong College and is now working at our Western Ag branch in Horsham. Emily has a strong interest in Animal Health and Nutrition and enjoys working with clients to achieve the best results for their livestock. She is currently living in Gymbowen VIC, with her partner Ollie, and enjoys helping out at her family farm on weekends.
Brayden is employed in our new Kyneton store as our Merchandise Salesperson. Brayden has been involved with sales for the past 13 years, most recently at Sydney Tools. Brayden has a passion for his clientele and is looking forward to learning new products, procedures and creating great customer relations. Brayden lives in Woodend with his wife and two children and when he is not working loves motorbike riding, playing golf and watching the footy. He is a proud Essendon supporter.
Brad and Tanya Haslett run a successful fertiliser spreading business called The Spreading Edge. Over the past 15 years, they built an honest and progressive business catering for the local Willaura community and beyond. In 2006, after earlier establishing the fertiliser facility on the Moyston - Willaura Rd, Brad formed an alliance with Western AG to assist in the supply of fertiliser in the area. The Willaura Service Centre now provides clients with the entire range of farm inputs and is a key asset to the Willaura farming region.
Andrew and Michelle Dodson from Shetty’s Supplies, a local Goroke business, are agents for Western AG. Like all stores, Goroke will be stocking the full range of farming inputs. Michelle and Andrew are well known in the Goroke area as the local suppliers of fuel and oils. They are very active in the community, having previously managed the local hotel. Michelle has a strong interest in horses and Andrew is active in Apex and the CFA locally.