Silver anniversary celebrations by potato and root crop planting and harvesting specialist Grimme UK were held at its Swineshead, Lincs headquarters in mid-August. David Williams was there.
German manufacturer Grimme is recognised as a leading potato machinery manufacturer but in recent years has extended its range to include sugar beet, vegetable and salad harvesters, root crop handling and cleaning products and irrigation equipment. It remains family owned and invests heavily in research and development and, last year launched a huge four-row potato harvester to suit the largest growers.
Grimme opened its UK subsidiary at Swineshead, Lincs in 1993, from where it looks after UK customers with help from 30 dealers. An ambitious open day in mid-August celebrated the achievement, and was attended by the Grimme family, its UK dealers and hundreds of customers who regard the sales and service teams as business partners and friends.
The company’s success is not limited to Europe and a new production facility in China was opened in March this year. “There is huge potential there for our business,” commented Christoph Grimme. “We are constantly looking at our strategy for the future and although we are the world leader for potato machinery, we aim to increase solutions for other crops too.
This year was particularly successful for our sugar beet harvesters, and investment continues in technology to keep building this part of our business. Vegetable machinery offers huge opportunities for us from planting to harvesting equipment. We took on Asa-Lift in 2012 for its focus and reputation in specialist machinery and that’s been very successful. Our strategy is to offer a complete solution package from planting to harvesting as we have achieved so successfully for potato growers.”
Pictured at the event are (l-r) UK sales manager Andrew Starbuck, Christoph Grimme, UK retail business manager Patrick Graf-Grote, and Franz Grimme.
Christoph said intelligent machines, capable of self-adjustment, is an obvious area for development. “That should be our aim, so operators can rely on their machines to optimise performance leaving them to concentrate on the operation. Machines will get bigger but there are limits so we also need other strategies to achieve higher work rates. Machines must get smarter too and we see the driver as an essential part of this. Until machines can travel unaided from the yard to the field and dealers’ workshops by themselves operators will be required, which is why all our smart solutions are designed around the driver, to work with him and assist.”
Asked why Grimme’s success and reputation continues to grow, Christoph believes the family’s values have helped. “Just because the business still has our family name that doesn’t guarantee it will perform well and provide great customer service,” he said. “It has grown, but we still have to run the company as a family business ensuring customers and staff are looked after just as when the company was smaller. We talk to everyone to find out their views including our teams and customers. My father’s office door is always open and we try hard to make sure even the most junior staff feel we are approachable.”
Grimme UK marketing manager Adam Johnson agrees. “Communication is a company strength and members of our team feel involved here and with the German headquarters. We know customers rely on us to provide a good service and that their working environment is different to any other industry. We listen to them and understand their needs. We not only have a range of great products, but a great team to support them too.”
Superb year for sales
UK sales manager Andrew Starbuck said strong sales of all products have been achieved this year. “Since selling our first self-propelled sugar beet harvesters in 2004 our reputation in this market has grown and interest increases each year from users of other brands. Four new self-propelled harvesters have been supplied this year along with several used machines.
“It’s been a good year for potato harvesters too, and we have sold approximately 15 self-propelled models. Turnover generally is up and we have exceeded our forecast of 4 per cent year-on-year growth. Potato prices have fluctuated wildly in recent years but we have adapted our business to allow for that and our sales strategy has proved successful.”
Regarding de-stoners, Andrew said year sales to date have already exceeded total sales for any of the past 5, with more than 50 supplied to UK farms. Planter sales remain fairly constant but he said the trend is for higher capacity machines and three, four-row belt planters have been supplied to farms in Norfolk, Lincs and Cambs.
Irrigation products were added to the range seven years ago, but weren’t on show at the open day as every available machine had been sold due to the sustained drought in the UK and across Europe.
Asa-Lift, Grimme’s vegetable machinery manufacturing division had also enjoyed a very successful year, breaking all previous records.
Attending the celebrations were members of main dealer Ben Burgess’ team. Pictured (l-r) Grimme UK’s Chris Gunton and Andrew Starbuck; Ben Burgess’ Martin Fuller; retired Ben Burgess representative David Curtis, Ben Turner, Greenseed International Jonah Ehmann, Ben Burgess’ Richard English and Grimme UK’s Sean Thurston.