Based in Curraghboy, Co Roscommon, Egan Agri Services is a quality agricultural contracting service which uses modern, up to date machinery and competent operators to deliver for its customers. Irish Tractor Agri & Plant caught up with Managing Director Eddie Egan to find out all about the company – from its origins to the overall state of business at the moment.
This past June marked six years in business for Egan Agri Services and since that time it has been getting busier with each passing year in Liscam, Curraghboy, Co Roscommon.
Set-up by Eddie Egan in the same year he graduated from GMIT, the company today has four staff (two part-time) working for it and offers a wide range of agricultural contracting services.
Since its inception in 2016, Egan Agri Services has grown its customers from in around a dozen up to 200 – all within a 15-mile radius of Liscam – and that growth continues according to Eddie Egan.
Irish Tractor Agri & Plant touched base with the Roscommon native recently to learn more about the ins and outs of the business, the machinery it currently has in its yard and its plans moving forward.
“When we started off here, I would’ve been originally doing grassland reseeding,” said Eddie. “There was a bit of a gap in the market just in the area and I’d have branched into round baling in 2018 when I bought my first (McHale) Fusion baler.
“That’s when the business really took off because after that we would’ve got into slurry spreading, reseeding got bigger and we moved into grassland spraying, contract fertiliser spreading and a bit of muck spreading as well.
“So, I suppose we grew from around 10 or 12 local neighbours to now where we’d be carrying maybe 190‐200 customers on the books between large and small, and they’re all within a 15-mile radius of the home base there in Liscam.”
Business has indeed grown from strength to strength for Egan Agri Services and, as Eddie points, building a brand for the company “is the biggest thing of all”.
Word of mouth has been key for the business so far and the area Eddie is working in is ideal as it’s occupied with plenty of full-time farmers who were willing to give him a chance when he first started out in business.
All machinery repairs are carried out in-house by alongside Eddie alongside his father and neighbour John Staunton who have both been a big help to him in getting the business off the ground and helping it grow along the way.
As for Eddie’s own background before coming to find Egan Agri Services, he filled us in on the details:
“I studied Agri Business and Finance in Galway and when I was finishing up in college, I suppose my father and mother needed a bit of help on the home farm and I had an interest in it and also built up some experience driving his machinery.
“I used to sow his crops and he used to do a bit of spraying and fertiliser spreading on hire just for five or six neighbours around and, I suppose, that’s what kind of got me into it.
“I liked the idea of going in and trying to do a good job for a farmer, seeing different farms and trying to improve farms as well. It just seemed like a good business move at the time because the area, while it was a good strong area for farmers, there wasn’t an awful lot of contractors around.
“Obviously, the proof is in it with how quickly we grew here.”
Even the unprecedented times brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic weren’t able to derail Egan Agri Services’ rapid growth.
In fact, according to its owner and founder, it managed to help grow the business, with the only real challenges having come this year with the rise in fuel and fertiliser costs.
“Covid didn’t impact us at all ready and, if anything, I’d say we grew from it because some of those part-time farmers were at home and they were going to do a little bit of re-seeding or extra work than they would’ve normally have done,” explained Eddie.
“That kind of grew the business as well and we’ve grown in a big way since 2016, as you can see from the customers we have on the books.
“It has been a challenging year this year, obviously, with cash flow and trying to manage fuel and all that but, in terms of workload, we’re definitely busier than we were last year. The addition of a new direct drill for grassland reseeding and establishing forage crops has been a great success and has helped bring in extra revenue too.
“Even with the like of the silage, we would have gained eight or nine more customers and also retained the same ones we had last year which was very important.”
As for the fleet at Egan Agri Services, it is currently running five tractors (two Deutz-Fahr, a Lamborghini, a SAME and a Claas) and has hopes to add another to the fleet at the end of this year, along with another combination baler.
Some recent new purchases have saw Eddie adding a brand-new muck spreader this summer and this year has also saw two triple bar tankers brought onboard from local dealers.
As well as that, the MD has hopes to bring in another McHale Fusion baler next year in order to cope with the anticipated demand.
So, all of that considered, the burning question is what has been the secret behind Egan Agri Services’ rapid and substantial success to date?
How has a small agri contracting start-up grown to having up on 200 customers on its books in the space of six short years?
For Eddie, it’s down to a combination of different factors.
“When I started, I always made a habit – if a farmer did happen to ring – I’d always be definitely on the time and, if not, I’d made contact with them.
“Timekeeping has always been a big thing for me and, with the staff as well, I’d try and hammer home to make sure and be on time for a place.
“They’d have their work schedule there because it’s very important to get to somebody on time and, when you’re there, make sure to take your time and do a proper job to the best of your ability and do it as if it was your own work that you were doing.
“I suppose, as a business grows, it can be difficult to main those sorts of standards the busier you get but I always try and tell the lads I have working with me to try and keep up those standards.
“Again, a big thing to point is that I probably wouldn’t have grown as fast as I did only for the area that I’m in. You’ve good quality land here and good farmers and I was lucky in that there wasn’t a whole lot of competition in around me either.
“Therefore, farmers in the area were maybe having to wait too long maybe for contractors that had to travel 10 miles or more to get work done for them.
“So, I suppose I squeezed in at the right time as well and it’s about going that extra step and making sure you’re doing a better job than the next man or the next contractor and doing it as efficiently, quickly but as safely as possible as well.”
A farmer himself, Eddie knows what the customer wants, as he currently leases an 80-acre farm – 35 of those are made up of tillage with the remainder grassland. He buys in 40 to 50 suck calves every year, raises them in the spring before selling them on.
It all helps to keep him busy year-round and, looking towards the coming months, he’s optimistic about further growth for his young agri contracting business in a sustainable manner.
“Hopefully, we can sustain the customers that we’ve built up over the last five or six years,” Eddie stated.
“If we can sustain that customer base and continue to get that repeat business, I think we’ll be in a good position moving forward to maybe invest further and widen out our customer base a bit more.
“Obviously, you always have to grow, and if we can grow fairly organically over the next couple of years and maybe get up to 200 or 220 customers, upgrade the machines and maybe take on another driver, I’ll be fairly happy.”
Egan Agri Services
Mobile: 087 746 2002
First published in Irish Tractor & Agri magazine Vol 10 No 6, November/December 2022