To mark the opening of a new factory at the end of last year, soil separation and potato machinery specialist ScanStone hosted a two-night event at its Angus base with customers from around the world. Farmers were brought in by coach and plane to enjoy dinner, traditional Highland dancing, live music, factory tours and a comedian. Greg Goulding reports.
Since its launch in 2005 ScanStone has seen rapid growth. Early stone and clod separators were assembled in a potato store that Gordon Skea had converted to a factory, and, following the success of the early machines, the company launched the shearbolt and auto-reset Bedmaker range with 1-, 2- or 3-bed forming options.
An increase in sales locally, nationally and overseas led the business to expand the factory; doubling its size in 2013 to allow for the increased demand for machines, servicing and spares. Gordon’s children also joined the team; William Skea, whose background is in the military, worked within sales initially and has recently taken over the running of the factory, while daughter Alison, who has an agricultural engineering degree from Harper Adams and has worked for Claas in Germany, France and Suffolk, is in charge of exports.
This fresh impetus into the business has seen it grow, with increased exports to countries including France, Germany, Norway, Sweden and South Africa. And so in 2018, the factory was expanded again by a further 50 per cent; the extra space to allow for William’s plan of substantially increasing the efficiency of the factory – speeding up production, as well as keeping an organised and fully stocked spare parts department with the help of new computer systems.
In 2018 the company appointed new dealers in Yorkshire, Cornwall and Ireland, as well as setting up a new premises in East Anglia. In addition, ScanStone itself was appointed as Tong’s approved dealer for Scotland.
Furthermore, a new Patriot potato harvester was launched in 2016 to compete directly with larger manufacturers in the industry.
Attending the event in December was Howard Dyson who farms 160ha of wheat, barley and potatoes, as well as some beef cattle. Following good potato yields and prices last season, Mr Dyson has invested in his potato enterprise with a new ScanStone harvester.
Having originally been a long-term customer of Reekie, and looked after by sales representative Steve Cooper, he felt confident to buy the machine through ScanStone. “Steve is a great sales person,” said Mr Dyson. “He’s a farmer himself and really knows how to use the machines. When it comes to getting the machinery out of the barn each season for setting up, I often call Steve and he talks me though it, rather than me having to go through the book each time!”
Describing himself as a loyal customer of ScanStone, Allan Morrison is a local potato and daffodil grower who has operated several items of the company’s equipment over the years. Growing around 1,000ha of potatoes and daffodils, as well as some cereals, the farm uses stone separators and bed tillers to prepare the ground. Allan said: “We have bought machinery from ScanStone for the build quality, spare parts and fair pricing.
“On one occasion there was an issue with a bearing mid-way through using one of the machines and, with narrow weather windows, we can’t afford not to get out on the field when the time is right. We called ScanStone at 3pm that day and the company had the machine fixed and back on the field that evening,” he pointed out.