As the first person to own a Fendt tractor in Australia, John Holtkamp’s inspirational story reflects the true spirit of the many settlers who paved the way for a new life in the Wimmera region of Victoria.
John Holtkamp arrived in Australia in January 1951 to start a new chapter of his life. Originally from Brieg, Silesia (today Poland) and growing up in Memmingen, Southern Germany, John took the plunge to follow the call of the Wimmera Lutheran Mission and settle into a life of farming.
John soon became a successful farmer on a property located North-East of Murtoa in the Wimmera region. With his first wife of 25 years he raised 4 children and later expanded his enterprise by taking over the farm of his older brother which was adjacent to his land.
It wasn’t until the late ‘70’s that John decided that he needed a new tractor. At the time he was having a discussion with his brother Joerg who was in Germany and working for Fendt at the Marktoberdorf plant. Joerg’s advice for John was – “why don’t you buy the best tractor available, a Fendt Favorit?”
Fendt tractors were not available in Australia at the time, so John embarked on a mission to source the tractor that he believed featured the most advanced technology that would not only suit his farming requirements but also create some interest with other Australian farmers.
In late 1980 John finally placed an order direct on the factory for an 115hp Fendt Favorit 611 LSA and in June 1981 via ship
and rail, the first Fendt tractor arrived on Australian shores.
The new Fendt was an instant hit in the area with John showcasing the state-of-the-art technology and high performance and reliability to local farmers. John was also very proactive in advertising the impressive debut of the new Fendt by placing advertisements on the benefits of the new tractor in the local press.
Realising the potential for the Australian market and how farmers could benefit from one of the world’s most advanced tractors;
Fendt teamed up with a Melbourne based importing business to distribute Fendt tractors on a larger scale. This venture was soon followed by the creation of the Fendt Australia Company who began to build a strong following of customers for the Fendt brand, which in 1994 shifted to a new level with the acquisition by AGCO Corporation.
Impressed with the performance of the Fendt Favorit 611 model, John purchased his second Fendt tractor, a 155hp GT255 Tool-Carrier which was fitted with a grader blade and front end loader and featured a host of hydraulic options.
Now in his mid 70’s, John shows no signs of slowing down and is still actively working as a share farmer and incidentally still uses Fendt tractors on the property. John also operates Wimmera Health Grain which involves organising a group of growers to produce Spelt, an ancient form of wheat which is marketed as a specialty food grain.
After 30 years, the first Fendt tractor in Australia still takes pride of place on the Holtkamp property and still starts
with one crank of the key.
How long have you used Fendt on your farm?