S Friel Agri Contracts in Co Donegal offer all aspects of agricultural contracting to their customers and have earned an excellent reputation in doing so. Owner and founder Shaun Friel told Irish Tractor & Agri all about his business recently.
This year has all the makings of another busy summer season for S Friel Agri Contracts up in the Tir Chonaill County and the hopes for Shaun Friel and Co is that they can continue to replicate the work they’ve done to date.
The company focuses on all aspects of agricultural contracting, with a particular emphasis on silage baling, slurry, seeding, ploughing and hedge cutting all year round.
Covering up and down the Donegal coast – and into Northern Ireland – S Friel Agri Contracts has gained quite the name for its work over these past 13 years and the hope for Shaun is that his venture can continue to carry out the good work for clients which has saw it earn such a glowing reputation.
“We’re based here in Kerrykeel, Co Donegal and the business itself has been established since 2006,” Shaun stated.
“There are two of us here working full-time and we could have up to four more then during the summer, so all in all we’re kept fairly busy all year round.”
Now a member of Farm Contractors Ireland three years, Shaun has grown a business venture which offers its customers the full range when it comes to agricultural contracting.
As the man himself puts it, S Friel Agri Contracts basically provide every service to their clients bar combining.
“I’d say that we almost do everything when it comes to agri contracting,” Shaun stated plainly.
“So that includes ploughing, spraying, pit silage, sub-soiling, umbilical, tanker slurry, round baling, mowing, raking, hedge cutting for local council, rolling, de-stoning – basically everything but combining – and it’s probably why our customers would come to us first as well.”
For Shaun Friel, agricultural work is what he knows best having grown up on a farm before completing his degree and setting-up his own agri contracting venture in 2006.
As the months and years seemingly flew by, he managed to build up a decent client base which has since become rock solid.
Indeed repeat business has been crucial to the success of S Friel Agri Contracts and Shaun knows it more than anyone else.
“I’d originally be from a farming background and went to college up in Antrim and earned my degree,” he stated.
“We have gained good customers here and a lot of them would be smaller mixed sheep and suckler farmers and a few dairy farmers, with not many arable farmers in this area.
“When we started here we would have started out small, like anyone else and just built it from there and got a few bigger customers along the way.
“We also bought machinery as we went along and have a decent fleet now to show for it.”
Today, S Friel Agri Contracts cover in and around a 35-mile radius, with a lot of work along the coast as well as in Northern Ireland.
Shaun’s happy to report that 2018 was a good year for business and he hopes that the second half of 2019 can follow the same trend, having been already kept fairly busy for its first four months with different services.
“Business has been good. We had a very good year last year weather-wise,” he said.
“In fact, last year was one of the best years for grass and bales – we’d have done something like 10,000 round bales and there’s a lot of grass around at the moment again.
“Over the last three years or so we’ve done a lot of work for the Donegal County Council as well.”
In March, the company added a New Holland to its machinery fleet which Shaun has been very pleased with to date.
The T7.235 is indeed a supreme looking machine which brings the S Friel Agri Contracts’ tractor fleet up to four in total.
They also hire out a Valtra for five months once the summer season kicks in.
As usual, the company will be hiring out a handful more this summer in order to keep up with the clients’ demand.
“There are four New Hollands here that we’d use full-time and then we’d hire out a few during the summer,” Shaun outlined.
“I bought a new 235 New Holland this year and it’s going good for us so far, so hopefully it will be busy again all through this summer.”
He added: “I also bought a new Fusion 3 Plus last year. It’s a very good machine and I’m happy to say that it has been going well for us. We’ve a few butterfly mowers to bring in this year as well, so it’s all go at the moment.
“I’ve a Claas 890 self-propelled harvester here too and JCB 414s and 3 x 18ft Donnelly trailers for doing the silage.”
So what’s been the secret to success so far? How has a company which started off small less than 15 years ago managed to build up such a loyal base of clients?
According to Shaun, it’s always been all about the service and the fact that his company offers a very reliable service to its clients.
“We always try to do a good job here for them. We provide a good service and we do it when we say we will. There’s definitely a lot of competition out there at the moment and we try and keep the machinery as fresh as possible here and keep on top of things,” he concluded.
Great to hear.
S Friel Agri Contracts
Mobile: 086 088 8708
Taken from Irish Tractor & Agri magazine Vol 7 No 3, June/July 2019