McConaghy Contracts – Three generations of agri contracting success

30 May , 2024  

Based in Bushmills, Co Antrim, McConaghy Contracts specialises in general contracting, silage, barley, ploughing and sowing. Irish Tractor Agri & Plant caught up with Andrew McConaghy at the start of the year to hear about recent additions to their machinery fleet and the overall state of business.

McConaghy Contracts is a company which has seen its services very much in demand throughout its catchment area of Antrim and Derry for three generations now.

It’s closing in on 75 years ago since Bob McConaghy and his twin brother, Silas, took the decision to set-up their own business and today the family name is still very much associated with agricultural contracting in the region.

McConaghy Contracts operates with six staff these days, with those numbers increasing as high as 20 during the peak silage season in the summer when it’s very much all hands on deck.

Irish Tractor Agri & Plant spoke with Andrew McConaghy to hear all about the ins and outs of this family business and the secrets behind its longevity.

“My grandad is still here with us, thankfully, and both my mother and father are still working away,” he outlined.

“Dad is more into the diggers end now and mom looks after the cattle. Altogether, we’ve six full-time working here all year round and we’ve 12 tractors in the fleet.

“All of them are New Holland and five of those are long wheel base, so there’d be two 270s, two 230s and one 245. Then the rest would be 210s.”

Within the company’s repertoire of different services, general contracting, silage, barley, ploughing and sowing are very much at the forefront, while plant, digger and excavator work are also services that the McConaghy clan can provide customers.

On the family farm in Dunseverick, they have a herd of 250 cattle on a 280-acre farm and it all serves to keep them busy 12 months a year.

In 2023, McConaghy Contracts went through the same exceptional wet year as every other contractor in the land, although there were some benefits along the way as Andrew explained.

“This past year has been wet and everybody else has faced the same challenge,” said the Antrim native.

“In many ways, it was probably a busier year than we expected. Because of the wet conditions, farmers weren’t able to go into fields with tankers and things like that.

“I’m not saying that there wasn’t more work for us, so I would say that it was one of our better years, even though it was very wet at the same time.”

This past year also saw some fantastic additions to the company’s machinery fleet.

New Holland has been the McConaghys’ brand of choice for many years now when it comes to their tractors and, along with the three they added in 2023, they also picked up some mowers and new tankers.

“The two 230s and the 245 were new additions for us last year and we also changed to Big M all at the one time. They came just before Christmas there,” said Andrew.

“We’ve Red Rock tankers now as well and we also went down the road of a nurse tank, which is a big container just for slurry that holds in around 10,000 gallons.”

Along with its own machinery, McConaghy Contracts is able to call on the services of their neighbour Christopher Freeman and his tractor, trailer and JCB to help out when the weekly workload requires more hands on deck.

Also serving to keep Andrew busy during the off-peak winter month is the sand blasting he does, along with the farm machinery painting service which he started doing a few months back.

So, all of that considered, the burning question is what has been the secret behind the success of McConaghy Contracts’ down through the years?

For Andrew, he credits his father and grandfather for laying the foundations which have aided him in ensuring the continued success of the family business.

“I suppose maybe it’s down to longevity. It’s three generations now that we’ve been at it and we’ve built up a relationship with them,” he said.

“After 50 odd years, it’s still the same customer base and that’s a credit to my dad and my grandad before me. It’s more relationship-based with the customers than anything because you trust them and they trust you.

“Also, we are very lucky in that we have really good, reliable staff who to the best possible job each and every time.”

Whatever way you slice it, there’s no denying at this stage that McConaghy Contracts is a tried, trusted and, above all else, well-established family business.

Looking at the months ahead for the company, Andrew says he hopes for improved weather in 2024 but, above else, health and happiness for the team he has working alongside him.

“First and foremost, I hope it’s a drier year than last year and I just hope that the machines go well and all of the workforce stays in good health and that everybody is able and well to continue on working for us. That’s what I’d like to see above everything else,” he concluded.

McConaghy Contracts,
198 Whitepark Road,
Co Antrim,
BT57 8SR.
Tel: 028 207 31492

First published in Irish Tractor & Agri magazine Vol 12 No 1, March/April 2024