Clingan Contracts is a long-running and popular agricultural contracting business providing an unrivalled service from the heart of Ulster. We dropped into the third-generation family business’ base in County Down and got an insight into day-to-day operations from joint-proprietor Steven Clingan.
County Down based Clingan Contracts 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.
Trevor and David Clingan developed the business from modest beginnings and gradually built up their own fleet of tractors and associated agricultural machinery.
These days, David and his nephew Stephen run the operation and for some, like the Clingan’s, agricultural contracting is simply in the blood. It’s a vocation, something that comes naturally. Stephen was born into contracting and he can’t imagine having done anything else with his life. He’s passionate about the land and takes great pride in his stunning, finely-tuned fleet and the comprehensive range of services provided to customers all over the county and beyond.
A tremendous investment of personal care and attention to detail goes into every job, allied to an innate understanding of the land and a steely determination to get the job done right – and on time! – every time.
To ensure all this, Clingan Contracts run a state of the art fleet of machinery that is kept in pristine condition and upgraded on a regular basis.
“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 Kennedy’s will take care of it for us.”
Included in the machinery are a MacHale round baler, tankers, Case diggers, mini diggers, a Claas 960 harvester, umbilical slurry systems and much more. New Holland is the preferred choice of tractor and has been for many years, with Steven revealing that they shop around when purchasing their machinery.
“We would definitely have a look around before buying anything and we have often gone over to England to purchase tractors and other machinery. When spending on machinery, you are looking at spending thousands of pounds, so it is in your own interest to shop around.
“We try to upgrade as often as possible to ensure that the machinery is in excellent working order which helps make our job that bit easier.”
Steven added that they are kept busy throughout the year through the contracting work, while they also farm themselves with suckler cows plentiful on their land.
“We would have around 220 cattle all of which would be suckler cows, so we are kept busy there as well. The contract work is all year round, we would do a lot of digger work for farmers as well as providing the other services.”
Of course, all of the success they have achieved wouldn’t have been possible without a loyal customer base and to this end, Clingan Contracts are very fortunate.
“The majority of our customers would be with us years, some would go back a generation or two and we are lucky in the sense that they are all within 10 to 15-mile radius of us, so we can move from one job to another very quickly.”
During the summer months, silage takes over as the team get through their workload as efficiently and quickly as possible although the weather does play its part.
“Last year was unreal in that there was no real growth during the summer months due to the hot weather that we had and we were actually behind schedule for the second cut, which has happened before, but its usually the rain that has slowed us down and not a heatwave.
“This work is very weather dependent, but we haven’t had bad summers in general. During the winter months we would be spreading slurry. We use both the umbilical system and tankers, depending on the land we are working on.
“The land here is generally pretty wet in parts as it is steep land, but you just have to get on with the work when it is possible.”
Steven is happy with the direction of the business and feels that once they are providing the service that their customers are used too then there is no reason to change anything.
“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 David – he has a big 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.”
Dromara, Co Down
Tel: 07714 660340
Taken from Irish Tractor & Agri magazine Vol 7 No 2, April/May 2019