Celebrating Australian Made – Farmer’s Forge grows from a hobby to a business

By Nicholas Way

Mick Henricks is a rare breed – someone who has been able to turn his lifelong passion into his livelihood.

The blacksmith behind the Roma-based The Farmer’s Forge in southern, central Queensland, he has been able to turn his passion for metal and woodwork since his school days into a growing business.

In the workshop on the 1000-acre beef cattle property he runs with his wife Mardi, Henricks was tinkering away long before the business – somewhat auspiciously with COVID looming – officially started in January 2020.

With their fifth anniversary just over the horizon, they are on the cusp of moving off the farm – the cattle are now the hobby – and 27 kilometres into Roma to put this novel business on to a firmer commercial footing.

With forged axes and hammers the centrepieces of The Farmer’s Forge range of products, the business is now looking to branch out into tourism and education once it has the Roma workshop up and running, with the official opening scheduled for early July.

In Mardi’s words, “it’s a pivotal moment right now, with increasing demand meaning we need a better workshop that builds in greater efficiencies. We’ll do it in stages, but we will do it.

“The first step will be to get Mick established in the workshop and production back on track. No doubt staff will have to be hired – a big change for us.

“The second step will be to open to the public so people can come and not only see our range of products but Mick working.

“We’ve discovered that people are intrigued by what he does – social media has been critical to spreading the word – so now the business will also have an educational and tourism bent to it.”

There’s also a strong sense of community involvement with this project, as Mardi explained.

“So, we’re going to host beginners’ blacksmithing workshops, not just for commercial reasons but because I believe men, especially those living isolated existences on their farms, need a hobby and the social interaction that comes with it.

Women are obviously welcomed too, but I see it as really helping some men who are struggling with their mental health.”

Although domestic sales have driven the business, The Farmer’s Forge has tapped niche markets in the US and China.

“America is proving a good market for us, especially the axes. The bigger they are, they better they like them,” Mardi said.

That the business is local, and will generate local jobs as it grows, is clearly important to Mick and Mardi.

So, their Australian Made logo is a source of pride to them both.

Mardi said: “We always wanted to showcase the logo which, in our experience, definitely helps when people see it. We’re very passionate about it.”

Picture: The Farmer’s Forge/Dundee axes ready for stamping

This story is part of Celebrating Australian Made, an annual series sponsored by Australian Made and profiling its licensees. For more information on becoming a licensee, visit this link.

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