If an agricultural machinery dealership could be run on energy and enthusiasm alone, then AB Wight Engineering, the St Boswells-based dealer for McCormick in the Borders, has an assured future.
As it is, brothers Andrew and Garry Wight must also make good use of their complementary skills to attract customers, look after them well and compete with some major players in the market for machinery and parts sales, and all-makes servicing and repairs.
Bob Bain, area sales manager with McCormick manufacturer Argo Tractors, was uncertain whether appointing this small business with no previous tractor or major implement franchise would work out.
“But it’s paying off very well through Andrew and Garry’s hard work and sheer enthusiasm for making a go of it,” he says.
Andrew Wight and his brother always had an ambition to work together in a business and have now achieved that goal.
“Being appointed to represent McCormick tractors just over two years ago was a big step for us but we’re making progress and growing carefully, one step at a time,” says Andrew. “The McCormick franchise has raised our profile such that we’ve been approached by a number of equipment manufacturers.
“We’ve taken on certain Maschio products, Harry West spreaders and feeders, and McCauley trailers but turned down others because we don’t want to take on too much and fall down on our service.”
The business started by Andrew Wight continues to handle general and bespoke metal fabrication, including manufacture of the company’s own small trailers, bale spreaders and sheep snackers in a unit on the Charlesfield Industrial Estate at St Boswells.
But investment in the McCormick franchise includes renting a second unit that provides workshop space for tractor servicing and repairs, a focus for sales, parts and accessories, and an area for displaying new and used tractors in stock.
Progressive investment in resources is also enabling the business to offer customers more; for example, hydraulic hoses can now be repaired and made up, and air conditioning systems serviced, re-charged and tested.
Investment in people is also part of the business development plan: Richard Berry and Graham Johnston continue to handle fabrication and machinery repairs in the original light industrial unit.
But workshop service technician John Johnston joined the business two years ago to work alongside Andrew Wight, and earlier this year Ian Skelly was recruited to further strengthen the experienced workshop team.
Garry Wight, meanwhile, is putting his sales apprenticeship experience to good use, building up sales of parts, tools, service consumables and accessories, as well as machinery and tractors.
“I believe we now have one of the biggest parts accounts in the country with the Granit/Argo Tractors joint business, and we’re doing particularly well with McCormick oils and other Argolube products,” he says.
“As for tractor sales, it’s a tough market and we have a lot of very well established competitors in the area; but as we get more McCormick tractors out, people are noticing them and once a potential customer has had a demonstration they soon realise the attractions and benefits of the machines.”
In this mixed farming area, the 100-113hp X5 and 114-140hp X6.4 tractors provide the right mix of size, features and performance, while the six-cylinder McCormick X7 tractors from 150-225hp are proving the dealership’s best sellers.
Garry Wight is hopeful that an example of the flagship 264-310hp X8 VT-Drive will soon find a home in the Borders.
“Apart from two older McCormick trade-ins, all our other sales have been ‘conquests’, replacing another make with a modern McCormick,” he points out. “Feedback from customers reassures us that the tractors are reliable, perform well and have good driver appeal in terms of comfort and driving ease.”
A customer trip to the Argo Tractors factory complex in northern Italy earlier this year also reinforced the credentials of McCormick as a make with the backing of one of the World’s largest tractor design and manufacturing businesses.
“I think everyone came away impressed with the scale of the operation, the extent that McCormick tractors are manufactured there, not just assembled, and that as a family-owned concern there is great enthusiasm for the Argo Tractors business,” says Andrew Wight.
“We’ll keep doing our bit to attract farmers and contractors to McCormick by providing good service with every tractor we sell – it’s the only way to do it.”