Reynolds Agri is a long-running and popular agricultural contracting business providing an unrivalled service from the heart of Ireland’s midlands. We dropped into the third-generation family business’ base at Edgeworthstown, County Longford and got an insight into day-to-day operations from proprietor Anthony Reynolds. We also asked Anthony about his impressive fleet of tractors / machinery as well as his successful exploits at the National Ploughing Championships.
“My grandfather Patrick started the business,” Anthony explains, reflecting on the genesis of Reynolds Agri. “He would have had his own farm and he also did contract work. He bought his first tractor in 1940 and my father Tom would have taken over the reins from him. I took over in 2000.
“I still have the family farm here in Edgeworthstown and the business has expanded a lot over the years.”
A comprehensive range of agricultural contracting services is provided, with a dedicated team of workers taking tremendous pride in their quest for perfection in all aspects of farming, including silage, maize and barley cutting, slurry spreading, spraying, landscaping, ploughing, sowing and land leveling.
There are three areas in particular that Reynolds Agri is renowned for. “We do a lot of silage, tillage and reseeding,” Anthony points out. “We carry out 2,000 acres of silage per season, covering farms within a 25km radius of Edgeworthstown. This includes County Longford, parts of Westmeath and a bit into Roscommon as well.”
Anthony admits he would be lost without his staff. He provides gainful employment to a team of six, the majority of whom are summer workers. “We’ll remain very busy until after the harvest in September,” he says.
“Good reliable staff is very important and many of my workers would have started with me when they were 16 / 17 and have stayed on. They would now have a minimum of ten years’ experience, which is important. “Customers would know them and they in turn are familiar with customers’ farms, which means a lot,” adds Anthony.
Fleetwise, Anthony oversees five John Deeres, ranging from 80 to 180 horsepower and from 2005 to 2013-reg, as well as a Class 850. A lot of money is tied up in the equipment and they are all looked after extremely well. “I have a Class 850 silage harvester; a JCB 416 S, a John Deere 6170 M, a John Deere 6630, a John Deere 6820, a John Deere 6520 and a John Deere 5720.”
Reynolds Agri’s customer retention rate is very high and the reasons for this are pretty obvious… “We have customers here who have been with us for 40 years and more,” says Anthony. “We provide a quality service and we are reliable. People appreciate that. When we say that we are going to be there, then we are there. That’s the main thing that people look for in this line of work – that you are good to your word and that you do the job properly.”
Another key to longevity is to keep the accounts in profit despite tight margins. This means keeping overheads as low as possible while at the same time providing quality machines and labour. To this end, Anthony carries out all the maintenance and repairs himself, mostly during the months of December and January. “I keep the fleet well-serviced and I refresh it as regularly as possible,” he confirms. “Since I’ve taken over the business, I’ve added a new tractor or machine every year and this is important as you have to have the best equipment possible at your disposal.”
Looking to the future, Anthony says it’s going to be a case of continuing down a familiar path and consolidating the business: “We’ll be providing the same service we’re renowned for and we’ll continue to offer the best service we possibly can,” he says. “We won’t be doing anything too drastic. Having said that, one new service we’re providing is that I’ve bought a Samco grassland subsoiler, which is great for loosening up the ground after the last couple of wet years – and that is proving popular with close to a 1,000 acres covered this year since it’s purchase.
“Outside of that, we provide the full range of agricultural contracting, which includes combines, slurry, spraying, reseeding etc, everything except baling. We can also level and seed lawns on new houses. “Our customer base is growing all the time because we offer a good service.
Is the agricultural sector as strong as the media would have us believe? “I find that it is very strong and we are very busy at the moment. But, regardless of how the sector as a whole is performing, the silage still has to be cut and all the work on the farm has to be done regardless.”
Anthony purchases his tractors from Johnston Farm Equipment, main John Deere dealer for Longford. “All the equipment is sourced locally and we also use local dealers for parts etc. because you can access them any day of the week and get your parts that same day, or at the latest the following day.”
Anthony Reynolds has always had an interest in competitive ploughing and he brought his John Deere 5720 to last year’s National Ploughing Championships in New Ross, County Wexford, where he was crowned All-Ireland intermediate champion – an accomplishment which reflects extremely well on the business!
“I’d compete in 20 county matches during the Spring time and it’s something I really enjoy,” he reveals. “I suppose you could say it’s a working hobby. This year’s National Ploughing Championship is being held in Portlaoise over the last week of September and I’ll be competing in the senior championship this time representing Longford. I’ll be hoping to give a good account of myself again. It would be a big step up to actually win it but I’d be realistically hoping to come in the top ten and qualify for the test match on the final day.”
Barne, Edgeworthstown, Co. Longford
Tel: 086 854 8115
Email: [email protected]
Taken from Irish Tractor & Agri magazine Vol 1 No 1, September 2013