VIDEO: A Superior Facelift

By: David Gilchrist, Photography by: David Gilchrist, Video by: David Gilchrist

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Jonny McDowell and his team have changed all aspects of Superior Equipment for the better — from the old to the new. David Gilchrist writes.

"I left school at 16 and became a carpenter," says Superior Equipment operations manager Jonny McDowell, who is standing on the factory’s mezzanine floor overlooking the factory floor at Superior’s Brisbane headquarters explaining how the company, once as an iconic Australian grass care and harvesting manufacturer, is rebuilding.

McDowell recalls how he worked his way through a career that took him from carpentry to vehicle body builder then "progressively working from the shop floor through the various levels of management and finally senior management".

Looking back, the young manager says while his personal success "didn’t happen overnight" it has been a long road and a very exciting one.

"I am enjoying where I am at the moment and where it’s brought me," he says.

McDowell has a certain nonchalant style that when combined with a working class down-to-earth attitude, belies his sharp, resourceful business acumen. It is that acumen coupled with his practical engineering experience that he employs to reshape the Australian brand name – Superior.

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The company has travelled from being a family run business dating back to 1973 to its acquisition by the Alamo Corporation in 2013. However, at that point it was left to its own devices.

Things rolled along that way for the following 18 months until McDowell joined Superior eight months ago as part of a new management structure designed around distinct roles including purchasing, production, operations, sales and engineering.

That new management team includes marketing manager Joe Ash.

Superior Equipment Jonny Mc Dowell Joe Ash
Marketing manager Joe Ash, left, and operations manager Jonny McDowell help lead the new Superior management team

Ash shares McDowell’s passion for returning the iconic brand back to the prime position it once held. Unlike McDowell’s non-agricultural background, Ash understands the life of a farmer.

The gregarious Fijian laughs as he recalls growing up in New Zealand working on the family dairy farm.

"I spent a lot of my holidays and my formative years at university doing engineering and a fair amount of my full-time work milking cows for a living," he says.

"My day started at four in the morning in overalls and cow poo. Now, I wear dress pants and, although I occasionally get a bit of grease on me, I love my work."

Ash says he loves his work because he’s supporting a good product and that "makes doing his job easy".

Nonetheless, there is more to the Superior story than just the Alamo purchase or the restructuring of its management team.

Read more about Superior Equipment’s story in the next issue of New Farm Machinery magazine issue 21, on-sale April 27.

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