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From Burra to Africa: Building fences across international borders

Selling fencing products is part of what Elders Burra Merchandise Manager Nick Brooks does every day; but selling fencing products to a client in Africa is certainly something new.

Last week, after three months of planning and preparation to secure the deal, four container loads, or 70 tonnes (almost a third of what Nick would sell annually), of wire mesh, posts and gates, sailed from Port Adelaide on board the MSC GINA bound for Senegal, on Africa’s west coast.

Nick, who’s used to selling fencing to sheep farmers and grain growers in South Australia’s mid north, says sealing the deal with a mining company on the other side of the world has certainly been an experience.

“Six months ago I was talking to a Burra client who was back in town after spending two months working as a foreman at the mine in Senegal and he mentioned they were looking for a better deal on their fencing needs,” Nick said.

“Cheekily, I suggested that he should get Elders to quote, which we did, and we won the deal,” he said.

Before he knew it, Nick was learning the challenges that come with shipping material overseas.

“I had to consider the difference in time zones, GST not needing to be applied, obtaining customs approval and shipping within 60 days and ensuring payment was received before delivery,” Nick said.

“Apparently, the mining company is doing quite a bit of work on fencing so there’s an opportunity for us to do repeat orders – now that we know how to do it, the next time will be easy!”

The majority of the fencing materials were supplied by Waratah, an Australian company.

The voyage to Senegal (via Singapore and South Africa) will take approximately 52 days and the products will be used by the company to fence off areas within the mine precinct.