Previously adored as one of Queensland’s most popular nurses, an unlikely career change for Toowoomba’s Georgina Hart is proving a shot in the arm rural producers have been craving.
While her latest venture, Agstop - specialising in the distribution of bulk fuel - may seem a world away from nursing, the former Toowoomba oncology nurse insists the ethos behind both careers is, in fact, very similar.
“Whether you’re a nurse or providing bulk fuel to a farmer, both are serviced based roles requiring good people skills, communication and trust – at the end of the day it all comes back to nurturing those interpersonal relationships and providing good, old fashioned service,” Georgina said.
Husband, Pete Hart, explains how the couple first identified a gap in the market for a genuine, personalised bulk fuel service, inspiring Agstop’s inception.
“Once, there were a number of private, independent fuel distribution outlets, but, typically, they have all been bought out by corporates,” Pete said.
“About 12 months ago we saw an opportunity, there were so many disgruntled fuel clients and we knew we could sell more than just fuel, we could sell good service.”
With Pete already well-known across the region thanks to his successful core business, Grainhart, a grain packing plant and container transport operation, a move into bulk fuel seemed a logical complement.
But with his time primarily still dedicated to Grainhart, it was Georgie who emerged as the driving force behind the new business.
And it seems her refreshing effervescent spark so beloved by patients, is equally as captivating in the paddock.
“There’s no doubt Georgie loves a chat, she has a genuine interest in people, it’s what made her such a great nurse and I’m certain that’s been the secret to the success of Agstop so far,” Pete said.
“Farmers love a yarn and a friendly face, and a bit of familiarity goes a long way in the bush.
“We make sure we know our clients, their places, where their tanks are so they can trust us to get on with the job, and deliver fuel, timely and hassle free.
“When a client needs fuel they get to talk to us directly and we can give them a fuel price on the spot.”
Agstop covers an area from Moree in North West NSW, across the Darling Downs and through to Roma and St George.
“There are still a number of private mid-sized bulk fuel delivery operators, so that market is well covered across the regions – where Agstop differs is that we deliver large scale efficiency – B Doubles of fuel, up to 55,000 Litres, straight out of Puma’s Terminal in Brisbane,” Pete said.
By buying in bulk, delivered on farm, Pete believed farmers could enjoy significant savings.
“Big business can lose touch, particularly in the agricultural game, it’s busy and it’s volatile, but it’s heartening for clients to know that as a family business, we’re all in this together, for the long haul,” he said.
Certainly the shocking 2018 season proved less than ideal for an agricultural based start-up, but Pete remains buoyed by Agstop’s success, despite the drought.
“Farmers are our primary customers, so when it stops raining, the fuel stops flowing,” he said.
“Thankfully we have built a fantastic customer base over the past 12 months and we’re all looking forward to better seasons ahead.”
While Pete can usually be found driving one of the trucks, and Georgie runs the office and sales, Agstop is a genuine family affair, with three little sets of eyes often peering over the dash during local runs.
The Hart’s children, Harry 10, Emily 7 and Angus 5, can often be found washing trucks at the depot to earn their pocket money, and Georgie smiles that this is the beauty of a family run business.
Although she laughs that working with her husband does have its challenges.
“I’ve had some difficult patients during my nursing years, but at times working with Pete can be a whole other level!” she said.