Valton Feeding Solutions and Penta thriving together

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The team at Valton Feeding Solutions is finding a growing market for feed mixers Down Under – and Canadian manufacturer Penta is boosting manufacturing to meet demand

In simple terms, Penta’s story is of a family-owned business adapting over time to meet customer needs and therefore thrive.

The Canadian manufacturer originally worked in milking equipment before the founder’s son, current and sole owner Glenn Buurma, made the move nearly 25 years ago into feed mixers and the products Penta is best known for today.

With these family values deeply rooted in Penta’s origin story, it makes sense the manufacturer would want to work with an Australian importer that shared this mindset.

Enter Valton Feeding Solutions.

Based in Mortlake in south-western Victoria, but operating nationwide, Valton is owned by Tony Byron, who has two sons – Steve and Leigh – heavily involved in the business.

The Penta 8030 TMR mixer wagon includes the Penta Hurricane auger, which improves mixing

Penta’s director of sales Trevor Newman describes Valton, which is the manufacturer’s importer and distributor to the Australian market, as "hardworking" and customer oriented.

"Valton are a hardworking bunch, doing 35 field days a year and really putting a lot of energy into whatever they’re doing, whether it’s selling Penta or setting up a trade show booth, or ramping up sales," says Newman.

"They have a lot of loyal customers and a lot of people who come back to them for their next unit.

"Valton are also a very fun and entertaining bunch, and they know how to create excitement.

"Every year, prior to COVID, they were bringing 35 to 40 customers to Canada to do a trip of the factory and visit a variety of producers to see how things are done.

"We’ve always had a really great time getting to know Valton and getting to know the Australian customers that come and visit us."

Penta’s product range includes feed mixers, spreaders, dump boxes and tillage equipment, with half a maple leaf in the company's logo being a nod to its Canadian base.

The company’s sales have been steadily increasing since first entering the Australian market nine years ago, to the point where Australia is almost equal with Penta’s homeland as the second biggest overall market, behind only the United States.

Newman says Australia is not only a "very important" market for Penta, but one which is growing rapidly and is very diverse.

"In the first year I think we might have sold three units, and then it was 20, then 50 and now you’re starting to get the brand established and it’s starting to really roll," he says.

"We have seen a pretty big ramp-up in demand and it has stayed at a high level over the last five years. It’s not always coming from the same areas, though, that’s what is unique about Australia.

"We sometimes see sheep farmers struggling and they need a bunch of mixers, or we need them for these large export beef farmers, and then there are the dairy farmers who replace them as they need them.

"We see some surges in the market here and there but, when you combine it, the demand has continued to grow and remain steadily high.

"There still are some people in Australia that aren’t using a feed mixer and are new adopters to the technology, so there is market room to grow."

Newman highlighted Penta’s spreaders as one area which has been particularly popular in recent years with Australian customers.

"That product is a unique one – it’s a spreader that pushes with a hydraulic ram rather than using an apron chain on the bottom of it, so it has some advantages in that it cleans out very nicely," he says.

"A hydraulic ram is not going to fail you so we feel it has an advantage and it’s picking up steam in the Australian market, so we’re excited about what the future can hold with that.

"The people that have purchased them in Australia love them. It’s also very popular in Canada and has excellent trade-in value."

Penta’s facilities, which include production, parts and administration, are based in two small towns within the Canadian province of Ontario.

The company has just under 17,000 square metres of floor space, which not only allowed production to continue with COVID-19 related social distancing requirements, but also provides plenty of space for future expansion.

"We have more space than we probably need, so that’s a good thing for our future because we can increase capacity and output," says Newman.

The Penta 1130 TMR mixer wagon has a 37 cubic metre capacity

The capacity to expand manufacturing can only be good news for Australian customers, and Newman believes the local growth Penta is experiencing will only continue.

"Going into the next couple of years, we do see the Australian demand continuing to be strong," he says.

"The reasons for that is there have been some events around COVID that have made people realise the importance of having the equipment needed to provide food. We make a manure spreader product that helps to better utilise and finely spread manure and I think that’s being more respected now with increases in fertiliser prices.

"There is always some sort of event driving it. In the western part of Canada, there has been significant drought and a lot of people need mixers to get cattle through the winter.

"Australia always continues to have different weather events that drives mixer activity. If it’s not Queensland then it’s Northern Territory or Western Australia that continues to drive it.

"With our product, and with a lot of people in farming potentially making a bit more money, they’re spending it on upgrades to provide efficiency and a return on investment and the Penta product does that.

"We want to provide a good product and Australia has been very receptive to what we’re building."

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