An attractive freehold property with all improvements, including as a going concern a well- established and high cash flow business is for sale by Expressions of Interest at 121 Stanley Road in Beechworth.

Located on the outskirts of the thriving historic and visitor town and within about 2 kms of the centre of Beechworth, the property is listed for sale by Rodwells Ruralco Property in Wangaratta.

The property deserves the description of unique because the business that has been created and built up by the vendors over the last 28 years is the only one in Australia with only one other known producer in the world.

In short, the Beechworth business exports two thirds of its production as freeze-dried black worms against standing and prepaid online orders that come from customers in many countries, including Europe, the USA and Asia.

The live worm component of production is sold locally to established wholesalers, principally aquarium suppliers who have standing retailer accounts.

Live worm customers also include the Sydney Aquarium and native fish breeders seeking feedstock for their fry coming into production.

Consequently, the business has a high cash flow generation, no bad debts, and it call sell every gram of its current output which measures an average of 300 kilograms of live or freeze-dried worms every week.

The business that trades as Australian Black Worms produces a small and very fine worm (Lumbriculus Variegatus) that lives, breeds and reproduces in clean, well oxygenated water.

The worms at about 65% protein, are a keenly sought food source for aquariums and native fish hatcheries or to aquarium businesses for sale to their clients who have highly valued tropical fish.

The major product freeze-dried worms are exported to distributors and individual customers with a strongly growing volume of on line purchases via the website.

The developers and vendors of the business Mal & Beth Davidson started out twenty eight years ago when they purchased an existing small trout farm on the 4 hectare (or approximately 11.5 acres) freehold property which has the Spring Creek as one boundary.

They noted that their ponds were producing copious volumes of the miniscule black worms.

So the Davidsons decided to become black worm producers as there was clearly an unsatisfied demand for the worms especially from the aquarium industry.

“Everyone we showed our worm products to wanted to buy them at what we considered a very attractive price per gram” Mal Davidson says.

At that time nothing was known about how to produce the black worms on a commercial scale, so he began experimenting and inventing a production process and creating significant intellectual property along the way.

One of Mal’s major breakthroughs was to find that the worms could be freeze-dried after harvest and he located the technology to do this in New Zealand and bought the equipment.

He also designed and built growing troughs now located in three sheds on the property through which approximately one megalitre of alpine-fresh water is fed every day.

The troughs, there are 240 of them in tiers of three in the indoor growing sheds, measure six metres in length, by fifty centimetres in width by thirty centimetres deep.

Each trough has a gravel stone bed where the black worms naturally reproduce and are fed a specially formulated fish meal based marine stock feed which is sourced from the Ridley group in bulk loads of about four tonnes per month.

The formula and makeup of the feed has been developed by the Davidsons so that each trough can be harvested on a rotational five week schedule.

The worms are then rinsed in clear water, then frozen on stainless steel trays before being freeze- dried.

Being a controlled indoor production process there is no risk of exterior contaminants or interference by birds or rodents and the water flow is returned to the Creek.

Of the average of 300 kgs produced and harvested each week, with some minor variations – the worms grow more slowly in hot summer and in cold winters – so a temperature above fourteen degrees C is ideal for most of the year.

Of the 300 kg average weekly production 60 kgs are sold as live worms and are shipped using the leading courier and road freight companies around most of Australia to their wholesale accounts, principally aquarium suppliers.

The balance as freeze-dried production is sold to customers who order and prepay by the website.

Cubed product is sold in packs from 10 grams of freeze dried worms at a retail price of $15.35 including GST, or as a loose product for the same value.

The Davidsons have developed a highly efficient supply chain either by mail or postal air mail, or by air freight for the larger quantities sought by international wholesaler accounts.

“In fact, we are the largest customer of our local Post Office as we ship out most days” Beth Davidson says.

As the world’s largest producer of black worms, the Davidson’s believe that the market demand for their product is about ten times their current production and they could quite easily add to their production by building additional indoor trough production facilities on the Beechworth site.

But they say “we have worked for the last twenty eight years to build this business up to its present success by developing unique production methods and freeze drying the worms in particular.

“We are now preparing to retire but If we were twenty years younger this freehold and the business would not be for sale”.

The business employs one full time employee and two part timers, the latter largely looking after the logistics of packaging and shipment and who are happy to continue working with new owners.

The project has a virtually unlimited supply of quality fresh water with a diversion licence that is sourced from the adjacent and reliable Spring Creek plus a large spring-fed dam on the property.

The sale will be inclusive of all the growing facilities and two residential buildings.

These include a five bedroom timber home with a self-contained granny flat adjacent, plus a separate one bedroom cottage which could be used for guest accommodation.

With its main bitumen Stanley Road frontage, the property includes attractively grassed and landscaped areas.

The Davidsons in anticipation of the sale of the freehold and business have just built a new home for their retirement on an adjacent block.

For an operational handover and provision of handover support to a new owner, the Davidson’s will provide consulting and advisory services to assist the successful purchaser.

Rodwells Ruralco Property sales agent Dave Colvin says the offer for sale of the Australian Black Worms freehold and business is an attractive opportunity for say a couple who can share work in production, logistics or business management.

“The business is a proven success generating a highly attractive net return from producing and supplying a product to local and export markets, especially the latter, where there is seemingly unlimited demand.

“The successful purchaser will have the delights of a country lifestyle in historic Beechworth with all its attractions including a thriving local and year- round visitor economy”.

A comprehensive Information Memorandum inclusive of information on the production and marketing channels is available to appropriately qualified and genuine enquiries.

“I recommend that as a first step interested parties should review the website that offers significant product and business information” Mr Colvin says.

For more information on the Australian Black Worms freehold property and business in Beechworth contact Rodwells Ruralco Property in Wangaratta on 03 5721 2047 or selling agent Dave Colvin on 0407 500 239.

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