Kotzur History, Australia-made for over 70 years

Kotzur History, Australia-made for over 70 years

Designing and building Australian-made farm equipment has been a passion of the Kotzur family for well over 70 years, a journey that began in the late 1800s when the family made the pilgrimage from South Australia and settled at Alma Park in southern NSW.

Current Managing Director Andrew Kotzur’s father Ray was only a teenager when his father Ben constructed a concrete silo in 1945 for storing grain. At the time, the family were producing grain, wool and pork to contribute supplies for the World War II effort.

While Ray may have only played a small part in the construction of the silo, it sowed an early seed in what would become a way of life that has spanned over three generations of the Kotzur family.

Ray began a steel fabrication business, building farm gates and sheds from the family farm “The Pines” at Alma Park. His engineering skills were sought after, and he established Modern Engineering and Construction Co. Pty Ltd, which he relocated to a shed in Walla Walla in 1953.

Fifteen years after Ray had helped construct the concrete silo at “The Pines”, continuous coils of galvanised steel had become available (thanks to John Lysaght Australia), and Ray saw the opportunity to build transportable silos made from steel.

Ray manufactured the first steel transportable silo in 1962 and sold it to David Muller from Henty in December of that year. The following year, at the inaugural Henty Machinery Field Days, Modern Engineering and Construction Co. Pty Ltd displayed their transportable steel silos and were inundated with orders.

Ray Kotzur delivers the first Kotzur transportable steel silo.

Ray Kotzur with the first steel silo ready for delivery to David Muller in Henty (1962).

By 1972 the business turned its focus to silo building and ceased manufacturing other products. After three years of designing and manufacturing upgrades, the first Kotzur gas-sealed transportable silo was built in 1985. Up until this time the largest silo capacity was 53m3 (approximately 42 tonnes of wheat). Now the largest silo holds 12,000 tonnes.

In 1989 Kotzur purchased the silo and water tank division of ANI-Arnall and relocated it to Walla Walla. At the time ANI-Arnell were manufacturing the original “Lysaght” silos. Five years later, the first on-ground Kotzur silo was constructed, and the business set about designing a range of built on-site silos to meet the new Australian standards for silo design for reliable gas sealing fumigation.

At around this time, Kotzur started sourcing equipment from Downfields Engineering Pty Ltd (owned by Keith Schelberg) in Toowoomba. Their attention to detail and quality products provided Kotzur with the partnership it needed to take on more significant projects in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Ray’s son Andrew, alongside his wife Michelle, became the second-generation owners of the Kotzur group of companies in 1997, and Kotzur’s dedication to improving efficiency and customer-driven outcomes continued.  

In 2008, Kotzur and CSIRO worked together to conduct fumigation trials using Kotzur’s GP18-10 built on site silo, an on-ground silo with a capacity of 1829 m3 (approximately 1500T of wheat). The trials proved that with suitable recirculation in a closed system, fumigant gas could be fully distributed at or above minimum concentrations within about 18 hours from starting fumigation.

When Keith Schelberg was ready to retire in 2009, Andrew oversaw Kotzur’s acquisition of the Downfield’s business.

The Walla Walla site continued to expand, with additional sheds added over time and new offices being officially opened in 2011, the latest addition being a warehouse shed in 2023.

Andrew’s son Ben was welcomed into the business in 2017 after extensive studies in bulk solids engineering in Australia and England. Ben is currently the Chief Technical Officer for the business, is a member of the Kotzur Group Executive Team, and a Director on the Kotzur Group Board.

In 2017, Kotzur also acquired the intellectual property owned by the Bendigo-based entity B. Keogh & Sons Manufacturing Pty Ltd.

Andrew and Ben have continued Ray’s passion for improving bulk storage and handling equipment. They are leading the business to set the standard for Australian-designed and manufactured products across the agriculture, mining and industry sectors. The family is proud of their humble beginnings and Australian-made products, designed for longevity in the harsh Australian climate.

Their belief in the benefits of on-farm storage and handling for Australian farmers, combined with their expertise in delivering large projects at a commercial scale, was a critical factor in the decision to build and open a new manufacturing facility in Toowoomba in April this year. With 200 employees working for Kotzur across the country, the Kotzur family are looking forward to the opportunities that lay ahead to improve the design and engineering of their products, along with embracing manufacturing efficiencies as they arise.

Ben and Andrew Kotzur with the original 1952 International AR112 Ute used to transport the first silo to Henty (2023).