AN ATHERTON TABLELAND lychee farmer has taken a passion for machinery to the next level as demand surges nationwide for his cherry pickers.
Elio Quinteri, from Paddys Green just outside Mareeba, is finding success in building Australian Afron Elevating Work Platforms since taking over the business five years ago.
Mr Quinteri is one of four nominees in this year’s Charlie Nastasi Horticultural Farmer of the Year Award, which aims to continue the legacy of the late Mr Nastasi by recognising outstanding innovation and exceptional leadership in the horticultural industry across the Atherton Tablelands and Lakeland area.
Matthew Perkes, Sam Collins and Jose Caamano are the other nominees in this year’s Charlie Nastasi Award , with the winner being announced at the annual Mareeba District Fruit and Vegetable Industry dinner this Friday evening.
Having previously been an agricultural machinery salesman and dealer, Mr Quinteri said running his own manufacturing business seemed the next logical step in his career.
“I’m passionate about what I do and I’m very particular. I’ve been a farmer, salesman, dealer and now I’m a manufacturer. I’ve seen it from all perspectives so I know what the customers want,” he said.
Mr Quinteri, who heads up Quinto Ag Supplies with his brother, Orlando, and employs five staff, has built 34 cherry pickers so far in 2017 for various customers. That’s up from an average of 15 machines per year previously.
“We build our cherry pickers from scratch — they’re locally built in Mareeba,” he said.
“In terms of parts, we try and support local businesses where we can. For instance, our steel is sourced from Tonkin Steel.”
Available in five different sized models, Afron cherry pickers are works of art for Mr Quinteri, who ensures every component is correctly sized, shaped and spaced.
The father-of-one said his meticulous attention to detail and quality control was part of the reason sales had increased so dramatically since he bought the Australian Afron business.
“We put out a good product and I want make sure it’s 100 per cent before I send it off,” he said.
“It doesn’t matter if we build one or 100, I want them all to be the same.”
Mr Quinteri counts farmers from as far away as Perth and South Australia as some of his many customers.
Additionally, Quinto Ag Supplies also builds and repairs various agricultural machinery and equipment for local farmers, ensuring the business is well diversified.