Operating out of Bandon, County Cork, Tony O’Mahony Agri & Plant Hire Ltd. have been delivering exceptional services to the farming community for half a century. We touched base with Diarmuid O’Mahony for an update on this outstanding family enterprise, which is expanding and going from strength to strength.
With a vast array of fresh machinery at their disposal, Tony O’Mahony Agri & Plant Hire have the capacity to provide professional, prompt, efficient agricultural contracting services as well as unrivalled plant hire and haulage solutions.
In keeping with a policy of controlled expansion, the number of tractors in the fleet has more than doubled in the last three years as the progressive O’Mahony family focus on ensuring that farmers receive the very best levels of service possible, covering a full range of services.
“We’re busy and we’re expanding our operations,” Diarmuid confirms. “We’re running eleven New Hollands now, having added a 181 new generation T7230 and a second 171 new generation T7230 in January, as well as a new generation 171 T7200 last year, a 161 the previous year and two 151s before that. These are all additions as opposed to replacements and we grew the tractor fleet from five units to eleven during that time.”
The logic behind this investment was to position the contracting business to be able to operate quicker and more efficiently within limited windows as and when they present themselves. “With the climate we’ve had to deal with, you need to be ready to go at maximum capacity at any given time, and we have different tractors allocated to different jobs. With so many of the implements being so complex and precise now, we try to keep them on one tractor in so far as is reasonable; otherwise too much time can be lost.”
One tractor is allocated to the recently-added zero grazing service and the Bandon-based contractors have also introduced a new aeration roller to roll and aerate land before spreading fertilizer and slurry.
The Krone Big M420, meanwhile, is 161 reg and that particular machine is replaced every three years, while the Claas Jaguar 970 self-propelled forager was acquired brand new at the start of 2017. A deal has just been sealed to buy a 181 L60H loading shovel to replace the 151 L60H. Also added recently is an OC Engineering 12ft folding silage spike for the Volvo Loader.
Looking around at all the tractors, excavators, trucks, loaders, dumpers and implements around the yard, the one thing that strikes us is how incredibly fresh and well maintained the equipment is.
“With the volume of acres we are doing [in excess of 4,500 per year], if you change them before they need to be rebuilt, then you save yourself the trouble of having to pay to have them rebuilt as well as the repayments at the same time,” Diarmuid notes. “The Claas Forager was purchased with full Hardox Steel which extends the wearing life of the machine.
“You also have very little downtime because of the brand of machine and we are lucky to get great service from Tim McCarthy in Carrigtwohil (Claas), Jim Power in Tallow (Krone Big M), ECI in Cork (JCB excavators and dumpers) and Pat O’Donnell, Cork (Volvo).”
These all provide Tony O’Mahony Agri & Plant Hire with outstanding products and service, as do Atkins in Cork (McHale Fusions) and Mc & S in Bandon and Cork (New Holland).
Tony O’Mahony Agri & Plant Hire also have telescopic loaders as well as diggers, excavators, dump trailers and track machines for hire for the construction and farm industry. They also do general tractor work, site work and haulage.
Diarmuid is transport manager, overseeing the haulage operation, which currently comprises a fleet of seven Volvos. “We got into the haulage initially to complement the agri work, drawing fodder and feed and slurry,” he reveals. “Instead of having tractors on the road – especially covering long distances – we figured it would be faster, safer and more efficient to run the trucks. We also contract, grow and supply a lot of maize, silage, bales and slurry, which is transported by truck all over the county from Skibbereen to Cork and Kinsale to Macroom.”
With so much machinery at their disposal and such a wide range of services provided, the work is far from seasonal, but year-round.
Father and founder Tony still oversees everything and also drives trucks as well as operating the Claas Forager during harvest season, while Diarmuid’s brother Micheal manages the agri contracting and plant hire (comprising five excavators and two 25-tonne dumpers) businesses and operates the Big M during harvest season. A third bother, Sean, looks after maintenance and the workshop as well as running the baling operation during the summer months, with a striking new McHale Fusion 3 on board.
“As well as the four of us, we have six other lads full time and six more part-time staff covering the agri, haulage and plant sectors.”
Versatility and experience are key in keeping the wheels turning… “With such a range of services, we are using the machinery more,” Diarmuid notes. “When the weather prevents you from working at agri, we can focus our energy in other places, be it plant or haulage. You are also using the men and keeping them in work, getting the most out of everything and maximising your efficiencies.
“Of course, the men need to be multi-skilled. This is a skilled profession and we are lucky to have good men here who can move from one task to another. We added two 24-ft triaxle Smyth silage trailers last year in addition to four 22-ft silage trailers – all fully-spec’ed with hydraulic up-and-over doors, air brakes and steering axles. It’s all serious equipment and you need good men to operate it.
“Also, by being involved in different sectors, we can keep our men full time and train them as we need them, which eliminates the need to take on inexperienced men for seasonal work.”
Safety on the farm, on the road and on site are of paramount importance to Tony O’Mahony Agri & Plant Hire. To this end, cameras, hands-free kits, dash cams and trackers are fitted in all the vehicles, which are all maintained to the highest possible standards.
“We now run a large tank division which transports waste liquid for factories,” explains Diarmuid. “We recently added a 181 Volvo to the fleet along with a 171 Volvo last year. We transport and deliver a lot of aggregates and have two 8-wheel Volvo tippers and two Schmitz aggregate trailers.”
As well as bulk feed product, Diarmuid spends a lot of his time running a specialised 4 axle extendable low-loader trailer bought new in 2015, transporting abnormal loads, plant and machinery all over Ireland.
Although the business is going well, Diarmuid concedes that it’s not plain sailing: “I wouldn’t like to paint that picture because this isn’t an easy game and it’s tougher it’s getting,” he cautions. “You need to be as efficient and affordable as you possibly can and you have to make sure you get paid. When you embrace safety that can mitigate a bit against insurance, which is another huge overhead.
“After I completed my Leaving Cert, this is all I wanted to get involved in. We weren’t at this scale at that time but we made the decision as a family to do it right and make a living out of it. This is not just a job – there are five or six families within the family all bouncing off it, so it was time to either get out or commit fully to it.
“Slurry is a real problem and the window is very small,” the Cork man concludes. “We have invested in a trailing shoe and run both tanker and pipe systems because that’s the way it’s going with the new regulations, which are getting stricter every year. Last year was a good year for milk but it was a tough year for the tillage and beef farmer.
“We do everything except barley and beet. It’s very hard to run a harvesting operation alongside the farming side, so we just concentrate on what we are doing and do it right.”
Tony O’Mahony Agri & Plant Hire,
Tel/Fax: 023 8841957
Mobile: 087 2592840 (Tony);
086 4132833 (Diarmuid);
086 2592840 (Micheal)
Email: [email protected]
Taken from Irish Tractor & Agri magazine Vol 6 No 3, May 2018