Operating out of Monaglough in Arklow, Co Wicklow, William Foster Tractors Ltd is a leader in the supply of New Holland products throughout the south east and all over Ireland. Irish Tractor Agri & Plant touched base with Keith Foster (Sales) to hear more about the most popular machines the company has on offer and the overall state of business at the moment.
Business is good these days at William Foster Tractors Ltd and the plan for the team in Monaglough, Co Wicklow is to try and keep thing that way right through to next year.
Operating with five full-time staff on its books, along with a couple more part-time, the company is established just over three decades now and stands as one of Ireland’s main New Holland agencies.
William Foster has been immersed in machinery and sales since all the way back to 1965 and, in that time, has saw some massive changes in the industry.
Irish Tractor Agri & Plant spoke with his son Keith to discuss what business is like these days in Monaglough, along with some of the additional equipment they’ve brought into their premises for customers in recent times.
“Business has been absolutely mental this year. We’re really busy and along with looking after existing customers our customer list is expanding with many customers being new to the New Holland Brand and William Foster Ltd,” Keith outlined.
“We sell almost everything but it’s the (New Holland) T6 that is the big seller this year. I think we’re up to 14 or 15 this year overall.
“We’re probably still trading off the back of the good year the farmers experienced last year, and we’ll try and make hay while the sun’s shining.”
Keith and his father are the only two members of the Foster clan involved in the business, with Keith heading up its Sales Department and William the Parts Department.
Since the day that he finished school, Keith, as he himself puts it, “has done nothing else but sell tractors” and that would date back to 1992 was when the company first got the New Holland franchise.
Fast-forward more than 30 years later and the company is thriving, with 2023 having been an exceptional year so far in the sale of both new and used tractors, spare parts, and other New Holland machinery such as mini-diggers, skid steers, wheel loaders, backhoe loaders, grass implements ground care and construction products.
Of course, recent years did see a bump in the road as a result of the unprecedented times brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic.
That period between Spring 2020 up until early last year saw businesses worldwide impacted and, while William Foster Tractors Ltd weren’t too badly affected, there was some disruption as Keith pointed out.
“We weren’t affected too badly as we still had to carry out all our servicing and parts sales because obviously the farming industry does not stop. For us it’s not just a 9 to 5 job it’s round the clock, 365 days a year.
“We had some tractors sales but, obviously, the supply chain issue was a big problem. You might have some customer coming in ready to buy something and he couldn’t get it from anywhere from six to 10 months. This was also down to Brexit coming into effect in the UK.
“That is settling down a good bit now and we’re nearly back to where we were. Three to four months for a tractor and maybe six months for something extra special.
“Covid did slow us down a bit, but we’ve got back to where we were and have experienced growth in sales.”
Today, the company is, as ever, focussed on keeping up with the demand from its customers and putting the farmers first.
Sales are strong, and there’s one machine in particular that seems to be passing in and out of the premises’ gates more than others over the past 12 months up to the present time.
“The T6 is probably the biggest seller this year and we have T7s and T5s, but the six-cylinder T6 is by far is the biggest seller we have.
“We have also sold a good few T5.120 Dynamic Commands and T5.110 Utility tractors. The T5 utility range would be aimed at a small livestock farmer.
“Obviously, dairy is moving along, and people have bigger tankers and machinery, so we’re still seeing the horsepower trend going upwards.”
So, the burning question is, what has been the secret behind the success of William Foster Tractors Ltd to date?
How has a modest start-up grown into what is now a booming business which has an excellent reputation among its customers?
For Keith, much of it comes down to the fact that it is still a family business that provides “the personal touch” for those that walk through their doors in Monaglough.
“I’d say 80 per cent of our business here would be through word of mouth,” he pointed out.
“It’s a family-run business and you’re talking to family members that run the business when it comes to prices or tractors, parts or service. If you’re going to buy an oil filter, we’ll give you as much time as if you’re going to buy a new T7. It’s the personal touch”.
“Genuinely, that’s where we get a lot of our customers from. We know each person by name individually when they come through the door. A lot are repeat customers and have stayed loyal to us for the past 30 years.”
Looking towards the months ahead for William Foster Tractors Ltd, Keith is keen for more of the same business while also continuing to branch out with more new products for their loyal customers.
“The hopes are to just maintain the pace that we have at the minute,” he said.
“We want to try and keep the sales up, keep our customers happy and keep them all onboard.
“We have expanded slightly, we are selling New Holland construction equipment and New Holland Implements also.
“We branched into the construction section about five-years ago and we’re covering a very large area with these machines.
“We’re getting repeat business back from word of mouth and social media platforms are a great way for promoting business and attracting new customers.”
Fantastic to hear.
First published in Irish Tractor & Agri magazine Vol 11 No 5, October/November 2023