When local farmers in the Ballina area pick up the phone to Cormick Bourke Agri Contractor, they can be confident that he will get to work as quickly as possible.
Shortly after leaving Gurteen Agricultural College, Cormick Bourke set up his own agricultural contracting business. That was 21 years ago and while there have been ups and downs since, his commitment to providing a service that his customers can rely upon has never wavered.
“My family ran a small sucker herd on 100 acres and I went to Gurteen College,” Cormick recalled. “A year or two after finishing there I set up he contracting business. That was 1997 and with very small means. I bought an International 884 off my cousin for £1,600 and away I went.”
From those humble beginnings, Cormick Bourke Agri has expanded steadily and the hard-working Cormick has reacted to the changing demands of the sector.
Today, he offers a complete baling service to farmers within his catchment area.
“I started off round baling and I’m still primarily baling. I do approximately 15,000 to 16,000 bales per year. In addition, I bring in practically every bale and stack it for the customer. I rarely leave bales out in the field.
“I’ve also started doing a bit of slurry in last five to six years as well as a small bit of ploughing and reseeding.”
All of Cormick’s equipment is well maintained to ensure that his customers receive the efficient and reliable service they require. He runs a fleet of 10 tractors (primarily New Holland and Case) plus associated machinery, such as two McHale F5500s, 1 Krone and 1 Kverneland 9ft mowers, Pottinger rake, a McHale wrapper, to name but a few.
“I was stuck for a tractor one Spring back approximately 10 years ago. I bought one and after I was finished with it, put it the Buy & Sell. I made a few quid profit at the end of the year on it so decided to investigate it further.
“Today, I sell second hand tractors in a very small way. I sell off some of my fleet and buy again. For example, I have sold two tractors since May and I have another one on the way. I usually have two tractors to spare. I’ve built up a lot of contacts buying and selling tractors in that time.
“I wouldn’t be operating a brand new fleet but I always try to run a clean one.”
Married to Aishling and father of Abbie (6), Cormick avails of the services of five part-timers at the height of the season. Past employees, close friends and family are never too far away either when a helping hand is needed. He operates within a 15 mile radius of his Ballina base.
“98% of my business comes from repeat customers and it goes without saying that I appreciate their loyalty,” he commented. “It’s a tough business to be in, agriculture can be very tough for everybody in it! For example, I’ve never seen a year like this one weather wise.”
The main thing that Cormick has learnt these past 21 years is that honesty is always the best policy when it comes to dealing with his customers.
“I always try to tell customer accurately when I am going to do the jobs they want done. It’s a very challenging profession. Every day you get up, there’s something new to deal with, whether it be a chain breaking or a light not working. Every day is like a school day!
“When I started off, I really liked it but I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t say that there have been times when I came to hate it. Contracting can suck the life out of you at times if you let it. You miss family occasions and generally aren’t in a position to plan things.
“If farmer wants something done you either do it or you lose the job but, all that being said, if it wasn’t for them you’d have nothing. They are the most important thing at the end of the day. It’s not all negative either, you’d have great craic at times too in farmers’ houses, having a cup of tea. That’s part of what relieves the stress.
Cormick adopted an optimistic tone when asked about his thoughts on what the future holds for the average agricultural contractor in Ireland.
“There is a future in it because I think farms are getting slightly bigger. Unfortunately, the small farmer is being squeezed out and the big farmer has to employ contractors because his time is precious.”
Commitment and value are other qualities that customers of Cormick Bourke Agri Contractor have come to appreciate down through the years. Cormick, in return, appreciates the hospitality he has been shown during the course of his demanding workloads.
Cormick understands that farmers need to keep costs down, reduce overheads and maintain profitability. He also recognises that there’s no substitute for experience, expertise and a safe pair of hands.
Give him a call to find out more about the services he offers his long list of valued clients.
Cormick Bourke Agri Contractor
Mob: 086 8056676
Taken from Irish Tractor & Agri magazine Vol 6 No 6, September/October 2018