AMTIL is a partner organisation working with the Department of Industry delivering the Federal Government’s Entrepreneurs’ Programme (EP). One company that has benefited from participation in the EP is Silvan Australia.

Based in Dandenong South, Melbourne, Silvan Australia has been a pioneer in the development and manufacture of agricultural machinery since its establishment in 1962. In more recent years it has diversified into distribution of products from overseas manufacturers, as well as light manufacture of hardware products.

The company’s involvement with the Entrepreneurs’ Programme began with a series of meetings between AMTIL business adviser Vineet Ahuja, and Silvan’s CEO Michael J Tricarico, its CFO David Young, and General Manager Frank Scotta. Through detailed discussions, data collection and site visits, Vineet developed a full understanding of Silvan, its operations, and the opportunities for assistance and support.

“Vineet certainly understands companies like us,” says David. “I assume he’s had a lot of exposure to privately owned and operated businesses. He could see a lot of things we were doing right, and  where we could improve.”

A Business Evaluation was submitted in August 2015, containing the Winning Measures benchmarking analysis for Silvan’s operations both in Australia and internationally. David believes Vineet’s perspective as an outsider provided valuable insight into the company.

“The business has evolved from a full manufacturer to doing assembly, light manufacture, and a lot of sourcing products from overseas,” says David. “Any company that’s evolved from manufacture to import distribution is going to require different skill-sets, a changing mindset. There were a couple of things in the supply-chain, logistical side of things that stood out, where a little bit of improvement could have a significant outcome.”

In the wake of the Business Evaluation, the Silvan team has set about implementing the action plans suggested. Key recommendations included the adoption of new enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, as well as measures to streamline assembly processes for the Sherlock wheelbarrow it supplies to Bunnings Warehouse. The company has taken on Innovation Connections assistance, and a Business Growth Grant to support its ERP implementation.

Silvan also started on a Supply Chain Review, though this has been put on hold temporarily to allow the ERP changes to bed in. Work is also underway on enhancing the wheelbarrow assembly line – David notes that this area has long been due for re-evaluation, with processes created when the initial contract with Bunnings was signed.

“I think sometimes you need to make things work, and the solution might not be the best solution, but it’s a solution,” he explains. “And because you’ve got a solution, you move onto something else. I think we’re all guilty of that, where you set something up, and you set it and forget it.”

Silvan’s engagement in the Entrepreneurs’ Programme is still a work in progress. However, David is confident of the benefits it will bring.

“If anything, this has forced us to look at some obvious areas for improvement,” he says. “And maybe they’re not obvious to people here because you can’t see the forest for the trees. Sometimes you need that external set of eyes, and Vineet certainly showed patience and flexibility in helping us through this process.”

To find out what the Entrepreneurs’ Programme can do for you, call 13 28 46 or visit, or contact Greg Chalker 03 9800 3666 or email