Kirkpatrick Agri Contractors in Ballymena, Co Antrim has earned itself a top class reputation for the services it provides its clientele. Irish Tractor & Agri learned all about the business from co-director and founder Jonathan Kirkpatrick recently.
It’s set to be another busy summer for agri contractors all over Ireland and brothers Jonathan and Robert Kirkpatrick, as ever, are well prepared for the next few months ahead.
Since its establishment 28 years ago, Kirkpatrick Agri Contractors in Cullbackey, Ballymena, Co Antrim has built up a strong customer base with each passing year and the hope is to add another few new clients to the growing list ahead of 2019 via an excellent service.
An excellent service is exactly what the Kirkpatricks have become known for up in the Saffron County, where their New Holland tractors can be seen travelling the roads and roaming the fields practically all year round.
For Jonathan, who originally founded the business, tractors and farming machinery in general has always been a first love for him from a young age, having grown up on the home farm with his brother.
The man himself took time from an increasingly busy schedule as of late to outline to Irish Tractor & Agri the ins, outs and origins of the company which him and Robert now jointly run together.
“I would have first founded it back in 1994. We had the farm at home and I always had an interest in machinery and started up with just one round baler,” he stated.
“So we’re established since ‘94 and we’ve five full-time staff working here now. My brother Robert and I are the directors of the company and we do everything really – from silage, round-baling, slurry, fertilising, sowing and combining.”
The full package is very much on offer from Kirkpatrick Agri Contractors and it’s part of the reason why so many farmers around them choose them first for their services.
Along with their fleet of New Hollands, the Kirkpatricks have all the necessary machinery to satisfy their customers’ needs and the state of business so far in 2018 suggests as much.
More than silage, sowing and combining, slurry work is what really helps keep Kirkpatrick Agri Contractors busy throughout the 12 months of the year.
Clients choose them first for their slurry service because of their expertise and excellent equipment and, at the moment, the Kirkpatricks are currently waiting on a brand new 4,000 gallon tank to help bolster their fleet even further and cope with the year round high demand.
Putting it plainly, Jonathan pointed out that business so far in 2018 has been “fairly steady” and that he expects more of the same throughout the summer months.
“Business is not too bad at all. We’ve busy enough this year and hopefully we’ll have another busy summer,” he said.
“The weather so far this year has been fairly tough but we’re not too bad now at the minute (in April). We also have slurry work that carries us right through the year, so we can’t complain with the way things have been going so far in 2018.”
As is so often the in the case with any venture, the state of business is reflected by continued customer satisfaction and it seems Kirkpatrick Agri Contractors have no problems in that department.
Repeat business from clientele has been crucial to the rise of the company started out by Jonathan close to three decades ago. The majority of customers are mostly local too, as Jonathan himself pointed out:
“About 90 per cent of our customers are from within a 15-mile radius and most of them have been with me from when the very start,” he said.
“I think they choose us first because we try our best to be reliable and on time for them. They know us and we know them and they know they can trust us. I think that’s a big part of the reason why they choose us first.”
The Kirkpatricks tend to stay local too when it comes to their tractors, buying off a supplier in their native town of Ballymena.
The number of New Hollands in their machinery fleet currently stands at eight and is likely to grow again by at least one in 2019.
Jonathan makes no secret of the fact that he has a fondness for the products that New Holland put out – him and Robert do not tend to stray elsewhere when it comes to his company’s tractors.
“We’ve eight tractors – all of them New Hollands which we get from Kennedy’s in Ballymena,” said the company founder.
“We’ve always found New Holland to be a very reliable brand and they’ve always been on the farm here. I bought a 270 last year and we should be adding another soon.
“We’re waiting on a 4,000 gallon tank as well and we’ve a 434 JCB and two harvesters, so we’re fairly set now in the machinery end.”
It seems the Kirkpatricks are fairly set all round with a strong client base built up and another busy summer season on the horizon.
Elsewhere in the family, their father Leonard still continues to supply eggs to Ballygarvey Eggs on the Ballygarvey Road in Ballymena.
Leonard Kirkpatrick has two poultry houses and 40,000 chickens to ensure the steady supply to the company which was founded and currently owned by Samuel Davidson.
Leonard himself has been working in the poultry business for 50 years now, so it’s safe to say he’s very much an expert in his field and it looks like his two sons are well on their way to following suit as experts in their own field.
Kirkpatrick Agri Contractors
Taken from Irish Tractor & Agri magazine Vol 6 No 6, September/October 2018