Grimme UK looks after the Grimme range of root crop products and Grimme Retail is a machinery dealer with a wide selection of brands on offer
From its head office at Swineshead, Lincs, Grimme UK looks after the Grimme range of root crop products for the company’s customers in the UK and Ireland. As well as providing the UK operation’s base, the premises is also the head office for Grimme Retail, an agricultural machinery dealer with a wide selection of brands on offer, most of which are exclusively designed for root crop and vegetable producers. David Williams reports.Five Grimme Varitron potato harvesters in the yard at Swineshead awaiting delivery to customers of Grimme Retail.Originally trading as Root Systems Ltd, the name of the retail business was changed to Grimme Retail in 2011, and it now operates from five sites; York, Shrewsbury, Fife, Swineshead, and at Ballyboughal, Co Dublin, Ireland, all branches fully equipped in terms of staff, products and after sales back-up to look after the demands of customers in their trading areas. Grimme products naturally account for a large proportion of the business at each branch, but an advantage of the separate retail division is that other brands can be represented, complementing the Grimme range, and there is an active trade in second hand machinery of all makes.
The head office at Swineshead was opened in 1997 when the company re-located to the town having outgrown its previous site at Sleaford.The Swineshead-based retail sales team; (l-r) Glyn Argent, Pete Mason, Ed Hodson and Dale Houghton.
“Apart from the Swineshead depot, there was no intention originally to set up a network of retail branches,” explained Grimme UK and Grimme Retail marketing manager Ralph Powell. “Grimme products have a superb reputation for quality and performance and very loyal users, and we have tended to set up retail outlets where dealers have retired, or sold their businesses or where an area has been inadequately represented. Grimme UK supplies Grimme products through 16 independent dealers operating out of 24 depots and they represent the Grimme brand well offering everything the customer needs. Grimme’s own retail branches complement these, filling in the gaps, and the arrangement works well.”
Franchises represented by Grimme Retail include Grimme, Grimme Irrigation, ASA-Lift, Agriweld, Sumo and Horstine, but not all franchises are held at each branch.Sugar beet machinery
Between 70 and 80 per cent of the Grimme business is for potato producers, but Grimme sugar beet harvesters; the Rootster trailed, and Rexor and Maxtron self-propelled, as well as Kleine harvesters and beet cleaners and loaders are sold through Grimme Retail, but just through the Swineshead and Irish branches. Glyn Argent has been recently appointed sugar beet product sales manager for the UK and looks after the product ranges, with a dedicated service support manager and specialist engineers, all based at Swineshead. Sales of new and used harvesters are through Grimme Retail at Swineshead which deals with enquiries from customers all over the UK.Irrigation
Grimme Irrigation supplies reels manufactured in Germany by Beinlich, and sold in the UK under the Grimme brand name. The arrangement has been in place for approximately two years, and two versions are available; the Primus, designed for general use and with hose capacity up to 550m and Monsun, a higher specification reel which can take up to 800m. The irrigation products are sold through all Grimme Retail branches.ASA-Lift
ASA-Lift manufactures specialist vegetable harvesting machinery, much of it bespoke to suit the needs of individual customer requirements. “Grimme has concentrated on designing and manufacturing products which perform superbly in their roles,” explained Ralph. “There are some users who have a very specific and individual situation and need equipment to suit, and that is why Grimme bought into the company and, as of approximately 18 months ago, owns a 70 per cent share. It means we can offer top quality products to suit the majority of users as well as bespoke products for those needing something different. ASA-Lift has a world-wide customer base and its ability to meet specific requirements is excellent. It will even fit alternative makes of engine where the user has a particular preference, and it is great for our customers that working so closely with the manufacturer we are able to offer such an extensive range of solutions for their businesses.”The ASA-Lift range includes products from ECO-Weeder, a mechanical PTO-driven weeder available in one or two-row versions, to large self-propelled vegetable harvesters, and is available through all Grimme Retail depots.The ECO Weeder is the smallest of the ASA-Lift products handled by Grimme Retail and is pictured next to an Agriweld Bed Buster.Agriweld
Agriweld is another specialist manufacturer and products from its range popular with Grimme Retail’s customers include the Bed Buster and the company’s range of box tipplers made especially for the dealer.Sumo
The full range of Sumo cultivation and drill products are offered from the branches at Swineshead (for north Cambridgeshire and Lincs), Shrewsbury (for Shropshire and Cheshire) and Fife (for the area north of Edinburgh). Sumo manufactures cultivation products for all types and sizes of arable and grassland farm and for contractors, and Grimme UK’s relationship with the company commenced many years ago when Sumo managing director Shaun Wealleans used to manufacture components for the company.Sumo products in stock at Swineshead. Sumo is the only brand represented with a range of products suited to all farm types.Horstine
All the Grimme Retail outlets are franchised to supply Horstine products, the specialist range of applicators used by many potato and vegetable growers for micro-granules and powders. Horstine supplies some of its products in Grimme colours and with mounting systems specially designed to suit Grimme planters. “The Grimme Retail business has been very successful,” explained Ralph. “The Grimme brand name is widely recognised and respected and it adds credibility to everything else we do, but being able to offer a full range of specialist products from the franchises we hold allows users to deal with just one supplier for their needs, and we know they prefer that. Because we don’t sell tractors our priority is the planting, harvesting and storage equipment and we are geared up to provide all the back-up needed.”The different areas in which the retail depots are located means there is a wide spread of cropping, all Grimme Retail depots serving a large proportion of potato and carrot producers while the depot at Swineshead is surrounded too by crops of onions, parsnips, red beet as well as other specialist crops. Specifications of machines required, even to do the same job, can differ between branches due to the different operating environments. Grimme UK has demonstration products available for the use of all its dealers, including the independents, but most will run their own demonstration machines to the specification that suits local users.York branchThe Grimme York team is pictured; (l-r) Mark Addinall, Amanda Pepe, John Taylor and Alan Suttle.Grimme York opened in June 2010 and Ralph said the branch is already one of Grimme UK’s greatest successes; “Before it opened, the Grimme brand was very poorly represented in the area but with a dedicated premises and staff we have already built up a very enthusiastic and loyal customer base there,” said Ralph.
Sales specialist at the branch is John Taylor, branch and service manager is Mark Addinall, parts manager is Alan Suttle and the reception is looked after by Amanda Pepe. Shrewsbury depot
Grimme Shrewsbury opened in January 2009 as Root Systems West and became Grimme Shrewsbury in January 2011. Sales are looked after by Jason Talbot, and parts and reception by Sarah Rose, and the Grimme UK service manager for the West-Midlands, Andrew Farr, is based close to the branch. Servicing is carried out by Stockley Oakley Services.Scotland The team at Grimme Fife; (l-r) Kenny Findlay, Moira Blair and Craig Goodall.Formerly Root Systems Ladybank, the dealer became Grimme Ladybank in January 2011 and the name changed to Grimme Fife in June 2013, when the depot relocated. At the Fife branch, sales are looked after by Kenny Findlay, service and parts by Craig Goodall and reception by Moira Blair. Grimme Fife, formerly owned by Jim Fowler was taken on by Grimme in 2006 and it had for many years provided specialist services to Stanhay users, its staff having considerable experience and knowledge of the range. Now for Stanhay products, only a spare parts service is offered.A 2013-model Grimme Varitron at work in Scotland.Eire and Northern Ireland
Grimme Equipment Ireland started in February 2012 and is situated north of Dublin and supports the customers in Eire and Northern Ireland. Branch manager Cecil Morgan and his team have many years of experience with Grimme potato equipment and are well supported by Grimme from Swineshead.Eire and Northern Ireland are looked after by the team at Grimme Equipment Ireland; (l-r) Brian Finnegan, Colin Fox, Siobhan Fisher, Cecil Morgan, Shaun Mason, Michael Hutcheson and John Rooney.
Grimme Retail staff attend the same training courses as those from the independent dealers, and the Grimme product training courses are held at Swineshead. “Because the Grimme Retail branches operate independently of Grimme UK, they operate in exactly the same way as the independent dealers, and staff have exactly the same opportunities for training in all the products as employees of other dealers,” said Ralph. “We have a successful apprenticeship scheme operating, in conjunction with Brooksby Melton college, and the course is open to all Grimme dealers, and backed by Grimme UK.
“It has been running for almost five years and appeals to specialist dealers as the products are now very complex. Most agricultural machinery courses focus heavily on tractors but we realised there was a need for those who wanted to make a career in looking after vegetable and root crop products to have the specialist training to give them the knowledge and experience required. Apprentices come from a variety of backgrounds, not just agriculture. We have a low turnover of staff within our retail business and try hard to promote from within where possible. We enjoy great staff loyalty and backing the apprenticeship scheme is a part of our commitment to the future of the root crop machinery industry.” Used machinery in stock at Swineshead. Having a separate retail business makes trading easier as second-hand products of all manufacturers can be taken in and sold on.