Clements Contracting and Milltown Farm a winning combination

2 Apr , 2024  

Clements Contracting provides exceptional agri contracting services to customers within a 25-mile radius of its base in Rathnew, County Wicklow, where founder William Clements also runs a mixed farming enterprise alongside his father, John. The farming and contracting businesses complement one another perfectly, as we discovered when touching base with William on Milltown Farm in mid-October.

Following in the footsteps of his father John, William Clements established Clements Contracting 15 years ago, at the age of 22. While the business may be modest in size, it has quickly earned a stellar reputation as one of the Garden County’s most dependable, respected and farmer-focused agri contracting operations.

Clements Contracting dovetails perfectly with a family-run mixed farming enterprise that combines dairy, beef and tillage, and William agrees that being able to see things from a farmer’s perspective helps him deliver an unbeatable service, with communication, quality and service very much to the fore.

“There’s definitely an advantage there,” the personable Wicklow man concurs. “It gives you a good understanding of what’s happening on the other side of the fence, so to speak. You can see how beef and dairy are going and you have great insight into what farmers expect. You know exactly what’s going on, you can talk to them as equals instead of looking from the outside in.”

Reflecting on the genesis of Clements Contracting, William recalls: “My father was farming and doing a small bit of contracting, but he couldn’t do both, so he let me start up the contracting business myself. I started out with a Welger RP220 Profi baler and built the fleet up gradually over the next 15 years.”

As he has grown the business, farmers have tended to stick with Clements Contracting due to the quality of the services consistently provided. “I still have a lot of the customers who were with me when I started up 15 years ago,” William confirms. “A lot of them came with us and are still with us today. We built up a good relationship with them and it works both ways – we are fair with them and we expect them to be fair with us as well. Which they are … we have great customers.”

On the farming front, covering approximately 450 acres, Milltown Farm comprises 40 dairy cows, 35 sucklers (with all calves reared to just over two years and then finished) and over 200 acres of tillage. “It runs hand in hand with the contracting. In farming, you are always hoping that next year is going to be better. This year wasn’t great but we had two good years before that – you can’t win them all, unfortunately.”

William and John work the farm themselves with invaluable assistance from the former’s cousin, Morgan, who helps out for up to six months a year between driving and labour. “Without him, a lot of the contracting wouldn’t get done,” William adds. “We have other lads who come in during the busy times, including a couple of other local contractors who help out.

“The rest of the family all support me at busy times. Mum helps with parts runs or lunches and my sister helps with the paper work.

“Labour is a bit of an issue. It’s not easy to find a lad you can trust with a €120,000 tractor. They are getting harder to find and nobody wants to do the hours, which I can understand, at the same time. If they can get more regular hours somewhere else and weekends off, then who can blame them? But it is an issue for farmers and contractors.

“Dad is the dairy man here and he looks after that side of it himself, while he also still loves being up on the combine or baling. I’m more focused on the tillage and contracting, and looking after the machinery. We’re usually kept very busy but if things ever do go a little quite on the contracting front, I do enjoy taking a break from it and getting stuck into the farming side. I love the farming and in a way it helps me re-energise.”

William runs four tractors – two John Deeres and two blue ones. The main tractors in the fleet are a John Deere 6215R and a 6930 alongside a New Holland T6155, backed up by a two-wheel-drive New Holland TS90 – “a great wee tractor which we use for raking and the diet feeder, etc.”

A Sands self-propelled sprayer was added in September, joining a JCB 532-70 loader (for stacking bales, drawing grain, and yard work), John Deere T560 combine, John Deere 6850 forage harvester, a Fusion baler / wrapper, an assortment of rakes and a six-metre Kuhn drill, to mention just some of the gear.

“Because of the price of machinery, we tend to pick up a good bit of quality second-hand equipment,” William reveals. “We’re not big enough to justify spending large amounts of money on new gear. I’m not too bad at the mechanic-ing, so we go down that route and try to keep costs down and pass those savings on to our customers. I’d look after most of the servicing, maintenance and minor repairs myself – that’s what I spend most of my time doing in January and February – and for the bigger stuff TFM [Templetuohy Farm Machinery] looks after the John Deeres and William Foster Tractors in Arklow looks after the New Hollands.”

Generally speaking, Clements Contracting stick to within a 25-mile radius of the home farm. “Dublin is to the north on one side of the Wicklow mountains and there’s only a narrow strip of land towards the east coast, so we’re a little limited but we keep it local, stay close to home and try to keep things simple. You don’t want to be taking the machinery too far.”

While bale numbers were up slightly in 2023, it was a challenging year for crops, from sowing through to harvest, due to the prevailing wet conditions. “The price of everything in farming has dropped while the cost of inputs has risen. Fertiliser has come back a bit at least, but chemicals will be the next big thing. It was a tough year but in 2021 and 2022 we had good weather, a good harvest and good prices.”

As for the secret of delivering an exceptional contracting service, William concludes: “Communication between the contractor and the farmer is key. Guys know they have to give me notice so I can plan in advance. There’s no point ringing me up in the morning and asking for a baler or a drill that day. There has to be a workable plan in place and communication both ways is vitally important. We have to be up front and honest with each other, then everybody is happy.

“Though you need to be competitive, price isn’t as important these days as dependability and providing a good service. Farmers appreciate the value that comes with a reliable service. Cheapest isn’t always best and there has to be something in it for both parties. There’s no point taking on a job if you’re going to lose money.

“I can’t stress how important communication is and again this is something I can appreciate from both sides. I get Eamon Cullen in to spread my lime – that’s the only job I don’t do – and I would never ring him and expect him to turn up that day. That’s not how it works. A contractor needs notice so he can plan out his schedule. With clear lines of communication and a bit of mutual respect, things will work in everybody’s favour.”

Clements Contracting,

Milltown Farm,


County Wicklow.

Tel: 087 6369854

First published in Irish Tractor & Agri magazine Vol 11 No 6, December 2023/January 2024