For some, agricultural contracting is simply in the blood. We caught up with one such individual, Poyntzpass-based Ivan Megaw, who has been providing an outstanding service to local farmers for quarter of a century. Ivan told us about the history of his business and the services provided. Of course, we also took a quick peek at his exceptional fleet of tractors and machinery…
Ivan Megaw was following in his father’s footsteps when he decided to set up as an agricultural contractor. His son William is now an integral part of the team at Megaw Contracts, so the proud family tradition of contracting will be maintained for many years and decades to come.
Reflecting on the genesis of Megaw Contracts in the late 1980s, the Poyntzpassman notes: “My dad, John Megaw, was contracting before me and I’ve been at it for 25 years now. Between us, we’ve been working for some families for over 40 years. I was speaking to one of my customers recently and he actually said that to me that the relationship between our two families goes back more than 40 years.”
A glowing endorsement of the service provided if ever there was one! Generally speaking, an agricultural contractor who provides a quality service will tend to hold onto his customers. This has certainly been the case with Ivan Megaw, who combines the best machinery and expertise to provide an unrivalled service to the farmer’s exact specification.
“My father also farmed and milked cows, so I took over the contracting end of it and he concentrated on the farming,” Ivan continues. “I started out with a plough and then bought a Deutz combine and built it up from there…”
Today, Ivan has a fantastic fleet of machinery at his disposal … something for every eventuality. He uses only the best models that money can buy and all the equipment is maintained in excellent running order at all times.
The fleet comprises ten tractors – nine John Deere and one Ford – as well as three combines, a self-propelled silage harvester and a baler (all John Deere) plus four Kverneland ploughs and aDoosan digger. For the last 15 years, Ivan has been moving more and more towards John Deere equipment:
“I bought my first John Deere in 1999 – before that the fleet was all Ford. I have found that the local John Deere dealer is fierce good and the back-up service is second to none. You get excellent machinery and a brilliant back-up and that’s all you can ask for.”
Ivan has the capability to handle every job and the comprehensive range of service provided ensures that he is kept busy all year around. From hedge cutting to ploughing and sowing to digging and mowing, there’s always plenty of work to be done on the farms of Armagh and South Down.
The Megaws are extremely well-known and respected in the local area and benefit from a large degree of customer retention. Ivan’s son William joined the business five years ago and brings no end of expertise and experience to the table, having worked previously as a John Deere mechanic before spending time in New Zealand.
“We do as much of our own maintenance work in-house as possible but time is the biggest problem, so we also use the main dealer a good bit,” says Ivan, who employs five or six men full time as well as three or four part-time workers during particularly busy times.
And, fortunately, he seems to be busy pretty much all of the time! “We’ve expanded every year up until this year,” he reveals. “We have built the business and the fleet up year-on-year and it never seems to get any smaller. There is plenty of work out there.
“Getting the right price for the work is probably the biggest challenge facing contractors but I have very good customers and I can’t complain. I look after them and they look after me. They have been loyal to us over the years and we like to think we have provided a good service.”
By consistently reinvesting in the business, Ivan ensures that he operates the best fleet money can buy and that the service provided is of the absolute optimum quality. This Spring, he took possession of three new tractors, a new harvester and a new baler. He buys brand new machinery and keeps the fleet as fresh as possible.
“I don’t mind working a tractor for four or five years – they are well able for that – but I change them regularly enough. I would run a harvester for two seasons. I’ve tried buying second-hand but it wasn’t saving me any money – if you’re not paying finance then you’re spending nearly the same amount on mechanics! So you’re better off paying the finance and having the better machinery.”
Looking to the future, Ivan Megaw’s focus will remain fixed on the same abiding principle that has defined his business since inception: providing a quality service: “We’ll keep going as best we can and get the bills paid and try to keep the lads in work,” he concludes.
“I’d like to think we are in a good position going forward. But there is a lot of competition and there are a lot of men working very, very cheap in silage and slurry. I don’t know how they can afford to do it, but some people seem to be prepared to work for next to nothing and that’s hard to compete with.
“But we’ll soldier on and keep providing a quality service. We provide a very good service, we are reliable and we are punctual. We keep our word and we do things right. I think people appreciate that.”
It’s proven to be a winning formula for Ivan Megaw for a quarter of a century; we can’t see that changing any time soon!
Tel: 0044 7736 004234
Taken from Irish Tractor & Agri magazine Vol 2 No 4, September 2014