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Export Award: Kelly Engineering

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The 48th Australian Export Awards were co-presented by the Austrade and the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI). The 12 category winners earned more than $3.5 billion in export sales during the 2009/10 financial year and employed nearly 13,000 people, according to Minister for Trade Dr Craig Emerson, with SMEs punching well above their weight in the representation.

Regional Exporter Award: Kelly Engineering

Kelly Engineering CEO Peter Kelly started tinkering with farm equipment in the shed of the family farm property in the foothills of the Flinders Ranges in South Australia 20 years ago. Soon he was running a repair service and modifying existing equipment. The breakthrough was the Kelly Diamond Disc Chain Harrow, an innovative machine that provides an alternative to chemical weed control and recycles soil nutrients. After experimenting with different channels for marketing the environmentally friendly and energy efficient harrow, the Kellys sent their first export to Arkansas in the USA in 2006 through an American agent who targeted the problematic rice market in the Mississippi Delta.  "He did that because it’s his most difficult market-tough on machinery but also cashed up," managing director Shane Kelly explains. Export demand from the southern states of the USA spread, giving the company 20 percent annual growth and current turnover of $11 million. Now Kelly Engineering has expanded its range of light tillage and harrowing machines and is considering moving fabrication of their products from Booleroo Centre to Ohio for the production of the steel frames, to be finished with Australian-made components. It is also launching into the European agricultural market. The Kellys say they remain committed to producing machinery that will enhance soil structure and health, and reduce erosion and soil and nutrient flow into waterways while providing innovative agricultural equipment at affordable prices. They custom make machinery, perform modifications to existing equipment and provides after-sales repairs and maintenance for clients that vary from research institutions requiring small plot size machinery to very large businesses, "all of whom demand absolute value and performance," Kelly says. "Being farmers ourselves we have a fair understanding of the requirements. We listen very carefully to customer feedback and are constantly improving our products, and strive to provide goods and services at the most reasonable price we can. This has provided a loyal customer base and allowed the business to grow."

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