Pat Dunne Agri Contractors has been providing a top-class agricultural contracting service to customers in the greater Toomevara area of North Tipperary for the past 27 years. We met up with the man himself to discuss the past, present and future of this father-and-son business.
Operating out of Kilcarey, on the outskirts of Nenagh in County Tipperary, Pat Dunne specialises in all aspects of agricultural contracting – silage, slurry, reseeding etc. Though the economy has made life difficult for everybody in Ireland over the past decade, he is glad to report that he’s been very busy for the last two or three years.
Pat grew up on the family farm and worked for a few other contractors before opting to set up his own operation in ’86. He developed the business from modest beginnings and gradually built up his own fleet of tractors and associated agricultural machinery.
“I suppose silage would be the main thing but we do everything,” he notes. “We don’t cut maize but any other work that can be done on a farm, we will do it – slurry, ploughing, planting etc.”
Pat says he has no regrets about deciding to go out on his own. Reflecting on the genesis of the business, he says: “When I look back, it was a good move … but an expensive one! Things have become dearer in the last ten years and the way of doing the work has also changed a lot. The seasons have changed, too!”
Pat’s main catchment area is Toomevara and he also works quite a bit in Silvermines and Portroe – generally all around the Nenagh area.
It’s very much a father-and-son operation these days with Pat’s son Damien having joined him in the family business. During the summer, work is generated for another five or six lads. “You’d be busy enough, now,” says Pat. “There’s always something to keep you going. The slurry stops from October to January but you’d have hedge-cutting and things like that to do during the winter.”
In terms of fleet, Pat operates five of his own tractors – all John Deere, bought locally from Templetuohy Farm Machinery Ltd. “You have to keep a fresh fleet. Running old machines doesn’t work for me. The newer you buy, the better. You’ll get the best out of them when you have them from new. We tend to do all our own servicing and repairs ourselves, but if there’s anything we can’t do then Templetuohy will take care of it for us.”
The current fleet comprises one 2012-reg, one ’11, two ‘10s and one ’09. “I might do something else before this year is out but it depends on getting the funds in,” Pat adds.
The fact that Pat has been working for some of his customers for 25 years speaks for itself! “Last year was a very hard year for everyone,” he points out. “We burned a lot of extra diesel that we wouldn’t normally burn and it was a tough, tough year all around. This year, we have at least been able to plan two or three days ahead and it has worked out better. But having wet grass for two years was a big problem.”
Looking to the future, Pat reveals that he has nothing particularly ambitious up his sleeve: “We’ll continue doing what we’re doing,” he concludes. “I don’t know any other trade and I don’t think the farmers would like to see us doing anything else.
“You would want to love this work and have a good interest in it. I’m still passionate about this and so is Damien – he has a fierce interest in it.
“When you have a good way of working, farmers will get you in. Once you’re providing a good service, they are more than happy.”
Pat Dunne Agri Contractors
Kilcarey, Nenagh, Co. Tipperary
Tel: 087 2602131
Taken from Irish Tractor & Agri magazine Vol 2 No 1, May 2014