Morris stays with McIntosh

By: Andrew Hobbs

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McIntosh Distribution will continue to sell Morris Industries products after the Canadian company was sold to Rite Way Manufacturing.

McIntosh Group chief executive David Capper is looking forward to working with Morris Industries into the future
McIntosh Group chief executive David Capper is looking forward to working with Morris Industries into the future

Canadian tillage and forage equipment manufacturer Rite Way Manufacturing has bought fellow seeder builder manufacturer Morris Industries after the latter sought bankruptcy protection earlier this year.

Rite Way chief executive Heather Forbes will take on full ownership of the company, saying she has identified opportunities for improving its manufacturing efficiencies in Western Canada.

"Morris’ greatest strength lies in its engineering and research and development capability," she says.

"We are confident we can guide Morris into a new era, continuing the strong Morris brand and building on its historical success in precision farming solutions".

Rite Way’s investment in Morris Industries was with the proviso that McIntosh Distribution remains as the Australian national distributor.

"McIntosh Distribution’s relationship with Morris has resulted in farmer-driven technology where the Australian grower has shaped the direction of our product development," says Forbes. "We remain confident this unique relationship will continue."

McIntosh chief executive David Capper said in an announcement that he was pleased with the developments and was looking forward to continuing the relationship with the company.

"Morris remains in the hands of a financially strong Canadian manufacturer and the streamlined ownership structure and core focus on manufacturing will deliver great outcomes for Morris," he says.

Alvarez and Marsal, which has been co-ordinating Morris’s restructure, has been working closely with McIntosh Group "with respect to fulfilling upcoming forecast orders and arranging for procurement of parts," it says.

Morris started running into trouble in late 2018 following the release of its popular Quantum Air Drill product line in 2018, due in part of a redesign and replacement of its drill openers in Australia, which is where 30 per cent of all units were sold.

In a sworn affidavit, Morris Industries chief operating officer Kevin Adair said that in North America the company had run a simple upgrade program to deal with a problem that emerged with the drill openers on the unit.

"However Australia’s weather conditions are harsher in terms of heat, dryness and soil conditions. These conditions put additional wear and tear on farm machinery in the course of the Australian growing season, which is longer than Western Canada’s," he wrote.

"For context, the drill openers account for approximately 40 per cent of the overall cost of an individual unit. The combined costs of the North American upgrade and Australian replacement programs facing the Morris Group were significant and well outside the estimates contained in the budget."

That, combined with international trade disputes, inclement weather and a resultant bulge in inventory, put additional strain on Morris’s cash flow, leading it to seek bankruptcy protection.

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