For three decades and counting, Campbell Agri have been providing a comprehensive range of high-quality contracting services to farmers across South Mayo. We travelled to Hollymount and spoke to founder Brendan Campbell to get an insight into this exceptional, long-established family business, which looks after its clients impeccably and in turn receives excellent service from a host of local dealers.
Catering for all agricultural contracting needs – from mowing, baling, wrapping, stacking / hauling, shaking and raking to slurry, hedge cutting, land reclamation and groundworks – Campbell Agri are renowned across South Mayo for delivering prompt, professional and efficient solutions.
The genesis of this highly-regarded, family-run enterprise goes back to 1990, when Brendan Campbell started out initially on a part-time basis… “I had bought a round baler to do our own baling at my wife Paula’s home place and people started to ring me to see if I’d do some work for them,” he reflects. “I decided to go full time at it from around 1994-95. As the contracting got busier and more and more people were enquiring about my services, I left my job with eircom and have been contracting and farming full time ever since.”
In response to demand, Brendan gradually increased his fleet of machinery to provide a wider range of solutions. Today, the main services offered include reseeding, hedge cutting, silage, slurry, land reclamation and digger work. Campbell Agri is very much a family business, with Brendan’s sons and nephews on hand to provide unrivalled customer service levels. Son Kenneth is on board full time, while other family members also play leading roles in the ongoing success and viability of this outstanding contracting operation:
“Kenneth is here with me all the time and I’d be lost without him,” says Brendan. “Jamie, my youngest son, is in college and he helps out with silage, baling and mowing during the summer. Niall is a teacher and is also here during the summer months and weekends, while Dwayne is an engineer with McHale’s in Ballinrobe and he works here in the evenings and at weekends. He designs belt balers there and he’d often test them here. He also does most of our maintenance work during the winter.
“I also have a good few nephews helping out. My brother John is a farmer and his son Alan is a big help when we are busy during the summer, as is Jack Colleran my nephew and my neighbour JJ Connelly. I’ve had great help over the last 20 years or so. They are all great lads and I can depend on them to get the work done quickly and tidily. Jarlath Moran is a digger operator working for me a long time also.”
At the height of the summer, Campbell Agri run eight tractors – seven of their own and one hired. The tractors are all Case and are sourced locally from the Jennings family at Castlebar Farm Machinery. “Castlebar Farm Machinery is only down the road and McHale’s didn’t do tractors at the time – they weren’t even making balers yet,” Brendan notes. “So I went to Jennings and have stuck with them ever since because they give me such good service.
“The same applies to McHale Farm Machinery with the balers and mowers. They really look after us, too. I’m friendly with Padraic and, with Dwayne working in there, we are never stuck. Located here in South Mayo, we are very privileged to get such a fantastic local service from well-known local suppliers and manufacturers. We’re only a couple of miles from McHale’s and Castlebar Farm Machinery, while Malone Farm Machinery is also nearby and you also have Major Equipment in Ballyhaunis…
“We get our tractors and hedge cutters from Jennings; mowers and balers from McHale’s; mowers and shakers from Malone’s. So Mayo is well served when it comes to farm machinery and we stay local as you can get all the gear here as well as great service.
“I’ve never had any issues with any of the machinery. They’re manufactured locally, are readily available off the shelf so to speak and if there is ever any repair work being done, the local dealers will look after you. Our balers are serviced every year and there has never been a problem with them.”
Complementing the tractors, other key items in the machinery yard include two McHale Fusion 3 Plus balers and one F550 baler, a disc harrow, power harrow, three slurry tankers with associated equipment, Hitachi diggers and dump trailers. Brendan and Paula farm just under 100 acres themselves, and would generally keep up to 110 animals at any given time, including a few horses. As a farmer himself, the Mayo man appreciates only too well the keen service his customers expect when it comes to agri contracting:
“You have to be ready to move when they are ready – the days of saying you will be there in a week are long gone,” he states. “They want the work done either today or tomorrow and they all watch the weather and then ring you when they’re ready. You could be under fierce pressure in the silage season because they could all ring you at the same time. That has become a major issue and you have to work long hours in the summer, which isn’t easy as you get older but thankfully I have the young lads to help out.”
Modern machinery means contractors can get through jobs much faster than a decade ago, although the caveat is that rates haven’t increased accordingly. “The amount of grass you can get through in a day with two Fusions, if conditions are right, is unreal,” Brendan confirms. “Our 2019 model, with the new rotor and feeder, is so fast that it starts baling one bale before the previous one is wrapped. Things are moving extremely quickly and you can imagine the amount of grass that’s in the chamber. It’s totally different than a few years back.”
Campbell Agri predominantly work with a 20-mile radius of Hollymount (but go further for digger work). As a direct consequence of the quality service invariably delivered, Brendan benefits from a large volume of repeat business. Indeed, many of his customers have been on the books since he started out and he even works for second-generation families on some farms.
In order to consistently provide optimal service levels, ongoing investment in fleet upgrades, replenishment and maintenance is a prerequisite. “You’re never out of the woods but that’s the nature of the game,” the personable Mayo contractor concludes. “You are forever putting money back into the business. You’re all the time building up assets and will never have your pockets full – but as long as you have enough to keep you going, that’s the main thing.”
Tel: 086 6992551
First published in Irish Tractor & Agri magazine Vol 9 No 1, January/February 2021