The annual open day organised by Cambridgeshire dealer Collings Brothers has become a popular event in the agricultural calendar
The annual open day organised by Cambridgeshire dealer Collings Brothers has become a popular event in the agricultural calendar, providing a wide variety of machinery from leading brands on display and with specialists on hand to help those considering the purchase of new equipment. This years event, to be held on Wednesday 16th April, promises to be as popular as ever. David Williams reports. Above: Special finance schemes available for the Puma CVX tractors and exclusive to Collings Bros have proved popular with customers. It has been a busy 12 months since last years open day for Collings Brothers, the dealer having taken on an additional trading area and premises in Brigstock, Northamptonshire to complement its Chatteris and Abbotsley branches, both of which are in Cambridgeshire.
Case IH products have been supplied and serviced since 1991, and as well as representing many leading brands of agricultural machinery the dealer is the sole UK importer for Canadian-built Soucy tracks, which it offers as conversions for most makes of tractor over the whole of the UK. Most of its business is within Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire, the area including a wide range of farming and soil types. Latest products We always have a wide range of products in stock at our branches, but for the open days try to make sure we have some of the very latest equipment to show, says sales director Tony Fincham. This year we will be promoting heavily the Case IH Puma CVX tractors with their CVT transmissions; these have proved extremely popular with users in this area, to the extent that we have been offering a special finance deal through which the customer can pay a deposit and try the machine for a year, and if he likes it then a finance package is available allowing the tractor to be kept, but if not, then the tractor is handed back. It provides the advantage of deferred payment and allows users to properly try the product before they commit. We dont expect many to come back! Above: The open day will include many special offers on parts and sundries as well as the opportunity to see some new brands. Also expected to be on display the new top-of-the-range Magnum CVX, with up to 419hp available and which is expected to prove popular with larger farms and contractors, particularly those farming some of the heavy soils locally. Also on show will be the new Maxxum CVX models, three new versions added to the range in recent months now available, and increasing the availability of CVT transmission on the companys tractors right down to 110hp.
Collings Bros is well-known in the region for its experience supplying and looking after Case IH Quadtrac tractors with their articulated chassis and four rubber tracks. The new generation of machines seems bullet-proof, says Tony. We sell them right across our trading area to users with all types of soils but the trend seems to be for the most powerful versions and we have recently sold one of the very latest 620 models to a user in Bedfordshire. The new transmission is smoother shifting and the cab suspension, now standard, transforms the machines according to users. Combine updates Case IH Axial Flow combines have proved hugely successful for the dealer. We have always liked the simplicity of the design and the high work rates achievable, and we have customers on all sizes of farm using the machines who love the reliability, says Tony. The latest specification combines launched during 2013, and which are available for the coming harvest are the best ever in terms of achievable outputs and grain quality. Plus, we have a huge 12.2m header option now, the largest in the industry, which is attracting considerable interest from those using controlled-traffic farming. We have had tracks available for two seasons and they provide significant benefits on and off the field; on the road they keep the width down making transport easier and in the field the extra grip, reduced ground pressure as well as header stability they provide makes a big difference to the control of the header. There are many updates which increase ease of use including the ability to swap from chopping to swathing from the cab something we have been asking for, for many years. There is also a new feed rate control system option and we expect this to be a favourite upgrade, particularly on the larger machines. We will have the new combines on show and lots of specialists available to offer technical advice to those interested, he adds. One product unlikely to be at the open day is the new Case IH telescopic handler. Previewed at Lamma in January, this will be available from Collings Bros Brigstock branch to customers in the Northamptonshire area, and the dealer plans a launch event later this year at the depot. Merlo Another long-established brand for the dealer is Merlo materials handlers and these are supplied from the Abbotsley and Chatteris branches. The new Turbo Farmer range is due out later this year and we are expecting to have one of the new models on show, says Tony. The new range is important for us, replacing the current models which are our bread and butter machines, having plenty of lift capacity but a compact size, and being easy to use. They make an excellent all-around package and the CDC load control system is unique to Merlo, ensuring users always know if they are operating within safe limits, while incorporating features which make the machines easier to use. Kuhn Products for arable and grassland farms are used in the dealers trading area and Tony says the manufacturer has been extremely successful in designing and building an extensive range of machines which perform and last well. We were involved with pre-production testing of the new Performer cultivator on a local heavy land farm during 2012, explains Tony. We deliberately chose challenging land for the testing but the 5m version operating behind a Quadtrac 450 moved all the soil across its working width achieving a good mix and it left a good level finish. Tip pressure on the tines is controlled by hydraulic cylinders and the maximum 1,200kg pressure allows the leg to remain working in extremely hard conditions without it constantly tripping. The farmer involved in the testing was so impressed that he has already bought a production machine. We have many demonstrations planned for this season and our experience of the design has assured us that it works when other cultivators wont, moving the soil effectively even when it is wet, so we are certain it will impress those that see it operating. The dealer has supplied many Kuhn ploughs to farms in its area and Tony comments that the Multi-Master 123 in 5 and 6f formats with slatted mouldboards has been very successful and most users select the wide-bodied versions for use with modern low profile tyres. A popular feature of the ploughs is the excellent clearance for trash making them a favourite with our fenland users; he says. Kuhn grassland products are also popular, although the number of grassland farms in the area is quite small. We do sell some of everything though, says Tony, from the P170 drum mowers to 9m tedders, and we will have a Kuhn round baler available for demonstrations this year. Tony Fincham says there will be many new products and special offers to interest visitors to the companys forthcoming open day. Great Plains Our best-selling products from Great Plains include the SL700 cultivator as well as the 3m Xpress disc cultivator with an ST bar for one-pass cultivations, which works especially well on the fluffy fen soils in some areas we cover, says Tony. We have an excellent relationship with Great Plains and since the companys new manufacturing facility and showroom opened at Sleaford, Lincolnshire, it has been very useful being able to take customers to the factory to see products and to meet the sales and service teams, members of which will be supporting us at our open day as usual. ATV franchise Yamaha ATVs will be displayed at the open day for the first time this year, the franchise taken on by the dealer last summer. They have been well received, and we think their first appearance at the open day will generate many requests for demonstrations, says Tony. There are machines in the range to suit all sizes and types of farm and estate. Richard Western Richard Western trailers will be on display at the open day, the best-selling models being 1618t capacity grain trailers in the mainly arable area. They are very well made and offer the capacity while keeping weight to a minimum which means customers are delighted, getting optimal carrying capacity for their money, says Tony. Bomford Bomford is another long-established franchise for the dealer and on display at the open day will be the latest Eagle hedgecutter with its 8m reach. Traditionally best sellers from the Bomford range include the Hawk with 56m reach (and the Kestrel) and Tony explains that everything from the range is solid and reliable with a very sound reputation. One upgrade proving popular, he says, is the low pressure hydraulic control system which many users are opting for rather than traditional cables. Quivogne Specialists from Quivogne UK will be on hand to explain features and benefits of their latest products including the four-wheel steer combine header trailer, manufactured by Perard, which has Ackerman steering. The combined front and rear steering means the wheels track during turns making it easier to negotiate narrow lanes and tight gateways with even the largest combine headers. Lely Welger Balers and tedders from Lely Welger provide a further option available from the dealer. The balers have a superb reputation for reliability and speed, explains Tony, and the Lotus combination tedder is ideally suited to users in this area. Soucy Tracks Since becoming the importer for Soucy tracks in 2007, Collings Bros has supplied sets to users in all areas of the UK. We are waiting for first deliveries of the latest S-Tec 800 version which are designed to cope with the power and weight of larger modern tractors, says Tony. We have seen significantly increased interest due to the wet conditions this winter from farmers and contractors keen to be able to get on the fields at the earliest opportunity. Most sales have been for track sets with 12- or 16-inch track width for use on mid-range tractors. Vegetable growers operating on contract land are keen to maximise the tractor footprint and reduce soil damage as they are under intense pressure to carry on working to maintain crop supply. Showroom and stores As usual at the open day the showroom will have a wide range of service parts and sundries on display and there will be special offers available for those taking the opportunity to stock up.
A new brand to the dealer; Buckler boots, will be available for the first time and Collings Bros group parts manager Ian Ashton says they have an excellent reputation for good quality and he is looking forward to having them in stock. Kramp offers a wide range of ancillary products such as on-vehicle cameras and LED lighting and, as usual, representatives from the supplier will be in attendance to talk through options available.
Farm and estate maintenance equipment from Husqvarna is supplied and serviced by Collings Bros, and its reputation for quality means it is always in strong demand, according to Ian. Chainsaws are in demand all year around now, and the open day is a great time for those considering the purchase of new strimmers and brushcutters as well as mowers to have a look at what is available. Workshop and service A new service introduced by Collings Bros at its open day four years ago was agricultural trailer brake testing, and the dealer is fully equipped with the testing equipment and suitably qualified staff to ensure its customers trailers meet the required standards. At the open day we will be promoting special deals for those wanting to book trailers for testing ahead of harvest, explains workshop manager Steve Lines. We will also be encouraging owners of Axial Flow combines to book their combines in as soon as possible for their annual servicing. This helps us to spread the workload; otherwise we have a yard full of combines to work through during the few weeks before harvest. It means we can plan the workload better and the special offers we will have available mean the customer saves money too, he explains. Telehandler TE (Thorough Examination), testing is another service provided by the dealer which will be promoting the advantages to users of having their machines professionally checked on a regular basis. We know many users do their own routine servicing, but there are some jobs which require fully equipped workshops and specially trained staff and we often find users book the handlers in for the safety checks, and also ask us to carry out those more specialist service and maintenance tasks at the same time. This saves downtime and is a cost-efficient way of making sure the machines are up to standard, says Steve. Above: Martin Lishman products are stocked including crop storage and quality monitoring equipment. Collings Bros group parts manager Ian Ashton is pictured with one of the companys soil test kits. This year, for the first time, the open day will incorporate a Martin Lishman grain moisture meter clinic. Collings Bros has been a dealer for the Martin Lishman product range for many years but this is the first time the moisture meter clinic has been held at its premises. Customers can bring along any make of grain moisture meter or bale moisture probe for testing and calibration. The charge is 12 per meter tested, and the clinics have proved to be extremely popular at other locations offered around the country where they have been. We are looking forward to a very busy open day and hope that as well as the many customers who have attended in previous years, new customers from our Northamptonshire area will take the opportunity to come down and meet us all and see what we have to offer, says Tony. We usually have 600 or more visitors during the day and it is a very sociable occasion for us and for them. This year we have the added incentive of a fantastic prize draw courtesy of Case IH; a trip to the companys tractor factory in St Valentin, Austria. It promises to be a fascinating experience seeing the state-of the-art manufacturing facility and meeting the people who build the tractors so we are sure the draw will prove popular! COLLINGS BROS OPEN DAY When: Wednesday 16th April – 10am8pm
Where: Collings Brothers of Abbotsley, Potton Road, Abbotsley, St Neots, Cambs PE19 6TZ Refreshments will be available all day.