Following a turbulent year, a new lease of life for long-established Suffolk-based wheel and tyre supplier Fieldens will be welcomed by the company’s retail, trade and OE customers.
The business has been relied upon by farmers, contractors, dealers and manufacturers to specify and supply optimum wheel and tyre combinations since the early 1980s when John Fielden started the original company, importing Terra Tires from the USA.
John retired in the late 1990s having built a very successful and popular business, and with the company listed as a plc on the AIM market. The Fielden family is no longer involved and the wheel and tyre business returned to private ownership with a new owner in 2002. Earlier this year Fieldens (Wheels Tyres & ATVs) Ltd went into administration, but was purchased this summer by American family-owned off road tyre giant OTR Tyres Worldwide, which is keen to expand its agricultural tyre business.
“We are all delighted with the new ownership,” commented managing director Mark Duncan who started working at Fieldens as a relief delivery driver in 1992. “Many of our team have been here for more than 20 years, know the industry inside out, and enjoy excellent working relationships with our loyal customers. With all the current wheel and tyre staff remaining, it provides continuity for those who have relied on us for wheel and tyre solutions for many years.”
The Stowmarket site includes extensive modern warehousing allowing considerable stock to be carried, and a well-equipped workshop including state-of-the-art cnc machining equipment for repeatable accuracy. “Our workshop manager, David Barton, is highly skilled having been manufacturing bespoke wheel equipment for more than 20 years,” continued Mark. “With his team, he manufactures wheels to fit almost any agricultural vehicle, and our on-site shot-blasting and painting facility guarantees a smart, durable finish.”
A range of premium tyre brands includes Michelin, Trelleborg, Mitas, Vredestein, Titan Goodyear, BKT and Alliance along with others sourced through wholesalers Claydon and Kirkby Tyres.
“Most of our team have been involved in agriculture since the 1990s,” explained agricultural wheel and tyre sales specialist Ed Lonergan, who first joined Fieldens in 1989 and returned this autumn after 5 years working for a major tyre manufacturer. “For us it’s not just about the tyre and making it fit a machine. It’s understanding what the customer is trying to achieve and having a range of potential solutions to offer, with guidance as to what will work best.”
Standard tractor tyres
Although the business is known for specialist tyres including rowcrops up to 54in, flotation to suit all sizes of vehicle and high-speed trailer and sprayer tyres, it also offers competitively priced standard tractor tyres. “We keep good stocks of tractor and trailer tyres to suit all user types and budgets,” said Mark. “We deliver nationwide on our own transport and enjoy repeat business from farmers and dealers. Our field sales and OE specialist Dave Ingham has many years’ experience looking after trade customers and is known and respected throughout the industry.”
Previously, the business operated from two sites including a subsidiary at Methwold, Norfolk, but this is being incorporated within the Stowmarket business. “The new owners are investing heavily to improve efficiency so that we can provide an even better service to customers,” added Mark. “Bringing together staff and equipment from the two locations will help, and an area targeted for particular investment is the metalwork shop. In busy periods David Barton and his team are under pressure to produce wheels and tyres at short notice and we are increasing the workforce by 50 per cent to speed up the manufacturing process.”
Under the new ownership the current accounts and administration staff are being retained, so previous customers calling or visiting will be familiar with the team. Office and special projects manager Kath Bullard is usually the first point of contact. Brian Groom who joined the accounts department in the 1990s is finance and administration manager, while day-to-day accounts are managed by accountant Katie Lawrence.
As a result of the company’s focus on the agricultural tyre business, and extra space needed for stock as well as wheel and tyre assembly, the long-established ATV and accessory division ceased trading in early November. “Obviously with off-road tyres a speciality of parent company OTR, we will continue offering a wide selection of tyre and wheel equipment for ATVs and accessories,” pointed out Mark.
“After a year of uncertainty it’s great to be able to look ahead knowing that such a respected and secure parent company is behind us,” said Mark. “OTR Tyres already has a UK base at Derby from where it offers an ever-increasing range of industrial tyres. At Stowmarket we look forward to building our agricultural tyre and wheel business.
“New and existing customers can be assured of friendly, knowledgeable service whether they are after a single tyre for an ATV or multiple sets of rowcrops for a fleet of new tractors.”