Ian Miller runs a specialised balage and hay contracting business just out of Milton in South Otago. He employs three staff, Richard, Lindsay and Ron who help with the mowing, raking and wrapping respectively. We caught up with Ian in January to find out what makes his business tick.
Ian Miller, Milton, South Otago
First expansion - a Krone KR10-16 chain & slat machine
Ian started the business in 1985 with a tractor and belt baler for making good quality round hay bales. When balage increased in popularity in the late 80's, Ian found his baler struggling in the wetter conditions, and that is when he bought his first chain and slat machine from Krone, a Kr10-16.
This machine was able to handle a wider range of crop conditions while still maintaining good bale density and shape. Although designed for balage, the variable chamber chain and slat system was also well suited to hay bales of up to 1.5m in diameter. To cater for slightly larger hay bales, Ian upgraded the Krone Kr 10-16 to the improved model VP1800MC in 1999, which makes bales of up to 1.8m in diameter. A deal was struck with Mclarens of Mosgiel to supply a new Case MX135 tractor and the new baler. Since then Ian has never looked back, and the VP1800MC clocked over 25000 bales in late 2003.
Ian followed up in 2000 by purchasing a Krone AMT323CV trailed mower conditioner and in 2001 completed the balage equipment line-up with a Krone KWT770 trailed tedder and a Krone Swadro twin rotor rake.
Baling capacity proved to be biggest advantage
"Buying the new Krone machinery has paid off, with much lower running costs than before."
"The biggest advantage I found by using the Krone tedder and rake was baling capacity. The crop flows a lot easier and I have experienced fewer blockages, especially at the headlands and in corners. This season I had only 5 blockages."
Ian also runs a McHale 991C single dispenser wrapper, which works well, and is able to simultaneously wrap a bale while carrying another. The machine is fitted with a bale tipper which not only protects the bales but simplifies collection.
Ian Miller with the demo CombiPack and his own Krone VP1800MC.
When asked about the investment in the tandem axle on the Krone VP1800 Ian replied - "I think the tandem is a good investment. Firstly, the larger machine looks a lot better on tandems, but the main reason is that it is kinder on the machine."
"I find that I do not break many pick-up tines compared to previous machines. The tandem axle floats well over uneven ground and walks through undulations without rocking excessively from side to side. I also find the machine tracks well on hills."
Dealer - Mclarens Machinery
The sales and service back up from his dealer Mclarens Machinery is an important ingredient to business success. In a typical southern man's phrase Ian sums up their service as "Not too bad!" - and followed up quickly by saying that he found the salesman David Dungey to be a genuine guy to deal with.
"I just need to sulk for a few days after signing the dotted line!" said Ian. But the machines have proved a good investment and Ian is looking positively to the future for his specialised balage business.
Tim and Ian set up the CombiPack for a demo.
Colin Clay and his team are expanding an established business in Invercargill and Gore.
Ganders of Southland Ltd
The beginning ...
Ganders of Southland was founded as an International Harvester dealership in Timaru back in 1963 by the late Bill Gander as W.E.Gander and Sons.
In 1970 Bill Gander opened up a branch in Gore after taking over Tractors and Implements Limited. In 1980 he took over the prestigious Universal Farm Machines in Invercargill as another step to building Ganders into what it is today.
The original Timaru branch was eventually closed leaving the branches at Gore and Invercargill. Over the years, Ganders grew to be recognised as one of Southlands premier machinery businesses. In October 2001 ownership changed hands and Ganders became Ganders of Southland Limited under the stewardship of Colin Clay.
Colin Clay is a born and bred southlander and has his roots firmly in agriculture. He has had considerable experience in sheep, deer and dairy on his farm of 25 years at Mokotua.
Colin's entrepreneurial spirit has seen his career lead to various aspects of business, the most significant being his previous dealings with tractors, and particularly Case IH tractors.
He developed a real passion for Case IH tractors after working with them so that when the opportunity arose in 2001 for him to purchase a high profile company with the dealership for Case IH tractors, there was no hesitation!
Left to right - Tim Darling (TFM), Colin Clay (Managing Director), Greg Lyons (Sales Manager) and Richard Clapperton (Sales) at the Invercargill branch
Good staff is the key
Both Colin, and sales manager Greg Lyons who has been with Ganders for 15 years, believe that the company's most important asset is it's staff. They have a great team at Ganders who provide the high quality service which their customers have become accustomed to.
The key issue is service and one of the ways the service was improved at the outset of Colin's ownership was by replacing the existing service vehicles with 4WD vehicles.
It is not always easy to make an impact on a long standing business but over the last few years there have been subtle changes in one form and another that have if anything just altered the focus of the company to be a bit more customer/service oriented. This has had a positive effect on the business.
Ganders and TFM
Colin feels that the business was always a successful tractor retailer but there was more opportunity to expand the equipment side of the business particularly with TFM products.
The range of grass equipment from Krone has a reputation for being top quality and Colin realised there was a huge sales potential particularly for the mowers and balers. The conditions in Southland dictate that machinery needs to work under varying and often adverse conditions, and the Krone machinery certainly fit the bill. The Pronovost bale tuber and Fransgard rakes have also proved popular in Southland.
Asked about service, Colin says "We are really pleased with the enthusiasm shown by Tim Darling at Tullochs. He really gets stuck in and nothing is too big a job for him. Tim is definitely a credit to the Tulloch Farm Machines organisation." "The parts back up, service training and product training are a tremendous benefit to us. With top quality products, our high standards of service, backed by Tullochs commitment to their products it was a sound investment for anyone buying into a business with good prospects."
This National Fieldays got off to a good start this year with better than expected weather and good numbers of quality visitors.
National Fieldays 2004
The number of enquiries recorded was higher than that of last year which is pleasing and therefore the mood is positive for Tulloch Farm Machines for the coming season.
All NEW Big M II showcased
The event afforded us the opportunity to showcase the all new Big M II into New Zealand which will help those sitting on the fence to get off the fence and do some serious grass cutting - it was not that long ago that a self propelled chopper was the machine of our dreams.
The Big M II not only offers an extra 0.6m extra cutting width over the original Big M, it also offers increased horsepower to 360HP, better driver comfort and visibility. The machine also features all round better ergonomics and even more robust Easy Cut cutter bars.
Among others to attract interest were the Krone 31 cubic meter loader wagon, model XXL/RGL, Rabe MegaSeed and new Gehl 2580 silage special round baler - all showed off the quality features of our prestigious product range at TFM.
Again our sincere thanks go to the organisers of the National Fieldays and the customers, particularly those up from the South Island.
The Tulloch leprechaun marks the Tulloch Farm Machines' stand at the Fieldays.
Beat the steel price increase!
The only negative at the Fieldays was the looming price increase for steel and freight. However this did not appear to impact negatively on the visitors attitudes for the coming season. This price increase will affect the industry across the board and the situation is expected to get worse before it gets better.
It has been five years since our first newsletter in 1999 ... and our first staff profile which featured Coral Birch.
Coral will have been with us for seven years come September 2004! She is still in charge of the 'Fuzzy Department" as Coral refers to it - administration, accounts and revenue collection. She remains the same cheerful, friendly voice on the Tulloch end of the phone when you call.
Her husband Alec is still with the Masterton District Council, but is now a Rural Roading Engineer and son Jarrod is still pursuing his career as a chef in Wellington.
Coral Birch who runs the Administration side of TFM
Unfortunately for Coral, the 3 acre garden featured in her first staff profile was more work than expected. The development of the native tree reserve is at an advanced stage however, but still not yet complete. The grand opening ceremony is expected to be in the summer of 2005!
In addition to this Coral also grows specimen carnations and lilies.
Grasslands Field Days
Our travel consultant has put together a package field trip to visit some of our key suppliers in Germany and Denmark and then on to the UK to the Grasslands Field Days. With bulk booking we have a good rate which includes travel and 9 nights accommodation for approximately $6000.00 (yet to be confirmed).
We are inviting customers/dealers to register an expression of interest for this very prestigious trip. Numbers are limited so we would advise that if you are interested, please contact your local Tulloch dealer or Tulloch Farm Machines direct for full details of the itinerary. The party leaves Auckland on 6th May 2005 and returns 22th May 2005.
Departure date is fixed however the return date is flexible.