With its first customer open day in more than 15 years planned for Wednesday 2nd April, Brad Farm Machinery is celebrating 30 years of trading
With its first customer open day in more than 15 years planned for Wednesday 2nd April, Brad Farm Machinery is celebrating 30 years of trading this year, as well as the doubling in size of its premises. David Williams visited the company to find out what the dealer has to offer. We have a superb selection of franchises and look after customers across all of Suffolk as well as parts of Essex and Norfolk, explained sales director Paul Offord and semi-retired former director Roy Spratt. We have been keen to hold an open day for several years but the same lack of space that was restricting our business day-to-day also meant we had no room to accommodate products from all the brands we represent, or to accommodate large numbers of visitors. This year we have invested heavily to offer an even better service to customers and the doubling in size of our premises in Hadleigh not only provides space for a brand new showroom and parts centre, but it also means we can celebrate 30 years of trading with an ambitious open day. When the company was set up in 1984, it took on the Deutz franchise, replacing Eastern Counties Farmers as the dealer for Suffolk. Deutz was quickly followed by Rabe power harrows and ploughs and then Zetor joined the brands on offer in the early 1990s. Deutz tractors had a very good reputation for reliability and sold well, explains Roy. We also sell Deutz Fahr combines and during 1985, the first year of having them to offer, we sold 12 machines. The tractors were top quality and appealed to larger farms and for intensive use, and their residual values were high. Zetor tractors then were very cheap and we could sell a new Zetor for the same price as a used Deutz. Within our trading area there were many 40120ha (100300 acre) farms which needed basic specification tractors and the Zetor range was ideal. These days there are far fewer small farms but Zetor tractors with their improved specification, quality and more powerful models available make them suitable for todays small-medium sized mixed farms or for larger farms as a second tractor. They are simple, very reliable and competitively-priced, Paul added. Deutz Fahr has also increased its ranges, model specification and features. Its current model line-up is easily the most comprehensive and reliable we have ever had with the 11 series taking it up to 440hp in the near future.
Within the company ,keeping up with the advances in technology, maintenance and servicing on both the tractor brands has been the responsibility of service director Tony Reason, one of the companys founder partners. Patience paid off Merlo materials handlers another success story for the dealer, the brand represented since 1995. We had a slow start with Merlo, Roy commented, but only because it was a relatively new brand and the production capability of the company couldnt meet demand. We needed a handler to offer and another dealer recommended Merlo to us. We visited the company at the Bologna show and met Mr Merlo and he seemed very pleased to be asked for the franchise but explained that as his company couldnt satisfy demand in Italy, and through the few dealers it had in the UK, there was no advantage to be gained by taking on more outlets. We were patient and 18 months later Merlo had increased its production capacity and we were offered the franchise, so obviously we grabbed it, he explained. Merlo has been a real success story for us, agreed accounts director Joan Canham, who joined the Brad team 25 years ago. The product is superb and we supply many models of Merlo handlers for use in all types of agriculture. We look after industrial users too and have invested heavily in the back-up we provide; our two main Merlo technicians, Mark and Stewart having both achieved the highest gold standard which makes us, as a relatively small dealer, very proud. When Rabe ploughs were taken on the brand was relatively unknown in the UK, and the characteristic slatted mouldboards were a novelty. We took a Rabe plough out and demonstrated it on farms throughout our trading area and we immediately gained new customers; the ploughs performed well in sticky soils and were much easier to pull than others available at that time, said Roy. The Pttinger franchise is a recent addition to Brads line-up, taken on during spring 2013. We have been supplying power harrow /drill combinations from the former Lely now Teagle Tulip range and these are popular allowing the crop to be established even in challenging conditions, explained Paul, but we have many larger farms in the area and demand has increased for higher performance drills capable of establishing the crop in just one pass while achieving very high work rates. We were approached by a customer wanting us to supply him with a Pttinger drill. Having looked at what was available and seen the quality of the Pttinger range we decided to take on the franchise for Suffolk. The drills are superb and the companys cultivators have proved popular too, especially the Synkro which has delighted many farmers with its quality of finish and rate of work. ploughs are very good too, and during recent demonstrations we have been impressed at how easy they are to pull while achieving a high standard of work. An early franchise for Brad was Twose; its product range taken on initially for its hedgecutters. We had seen Twose hedgecutters demonstrated previously and aspects of the design, strength and their performance impressed us, as well as farmers and contractors who saw them working. We have been supplying, and providing back-up for users for almost 30 years and the quality and performance has remained excellent, said Paul. We also supply Twose folding rolls and other machines from the ranges which are all well-made and durable. ATVs complement the business In 2004 Brad took on the Suzuki All Terrain Vehicle franchise and after two successful years a specialist; Alan Gooch was employed to look after the range for the dealer. Suzuki ATVs have improved considerably, even in the 10 years we have been selling the machines, and they now have an excellent reputation and are proving popular with all types of users, said Alan. We were concerned in the early days that we might struggle to move on trade-in machines, but in this area they tend to be well looked after and there is always a demand. Increased numbers of farms now run ATVs, both on arable and livestock enterprises, and having the Suzuki brand complements the rest of our business. Lely Welger balers, mower, tedders and rakes are supplied and Paul said demand is growing; We have seen increased sales of grassland products in recent years and the Lely Welger range has an excellent reputation and suits professional users, he commented. Other brands represented by Brad include Major, which supplies mowers and tankers, Warwick and Marshall Trailers as well as Cousins of Emneth machines, which have been available through the dealer for many years.
As well as the specialist service provided for Merlo handlers, engineers are fully trained to work on the Deutz Fahr, Zetor and Suzuki product ranges. New showroom The new parts store provides extra space for increased parts stock and the bright and spacious showroom means service items and sundries are out on display. New ranges include safety footwear and all-weather clothing and there will be a selection on show at the open day. Draper and Sealey tools and workshop equipment, and accessories from Kramp, are available. Along with the approved branded oils recommended by Deutz Fahr, a range of oils by Morris Lubricants is stocked. The new showroom is a real asset and we have seen a lot of extra business just because visitors have noticed sundries they need out on display when they have come in to collect items from the parts counter, said parts director Stephen Morton. The open day will provide an excellent opportunity to stock up on parts and sundries as we will have many special offers available on the day. Continued expansion We are very excited about the open day as it will allow new and existing customers to come and see what we are doing, view the ranges of products we have to offer, and to meet technical staff from all our suppliers. The business started with one main brand and was run by four founding partners and, despite being relatively small, it has been hugely successful. We have many loyal customers and have attracted top quality brands with which we have built long-standing relationships, said Paul. We have a team of nine staff currently but with the extra workshop space and the additional ranges taken on during the past few years we are keen to expand our service department taking on new apprentices as well as experienced engineers. Customers seem to like the way we trade. We are straight talking, down to earth and have a reputation for being very practical, said Paul and Roy. We always dreamed of expanding the business and doing it during our 30th year is very special to us. The extra space will allow us to have more machinery available from stock and to offer an improved after sales service, both of which will benefit our customers. We have also invested in our company website, and it is now easy to use with more useful information than before. We are here to stay, pleased to have been able to invest in the business, and customers can have confidence that we will look after their needs. We look forward to seeing them at our open day, they added.
The open day is planned for the Wednesday 2nd April, from 10am8pm and everyone is welcome says the company. BRAD FARM MACHINERY OPEN DAY When: Wednesday 2nd April – 10am8pm
Where: Lady Lane Industrial Estate, Hadleigh, Ipswich IP76BQ
Contact: 01473 827060