Cork-based Dairypower Equipment is Ireland’s premier designer and manufacturer of high-quality farm equipment, with three main products in its range: automatic hydraulic yard scraper systems; slurry aeration systems; and milking machine systems. We met up with financial manager John O’Brien to take a closer look at this outstanding operation.
Dairypower Equipment (O’Donovan Dairy Services Ltd.) was founded in 1973 by current MD John O’Donovan. It is very much a family-run business, with John’s wife Gobnait, son Pat and three brothers all involved. As such, a personal service is guaranteed from first enquiry through to post-sales support.
Initially established as a milking machine company servicing clients in Cork, Dairypower has evolved into a business which exports its own patented equipment to over 20 countries worldwide.
In 1985, they began to design and manufacture automatic hydraulic yard scraper systems; they are now recognised by farmers and dealers as being the leading manufacturer of hydraulic scrapers in the world.
Their patented scraper system has many unique features that make it the safest and most trouble-free system available. It is hydraulically operated, which means fewer moveable parts and considerably less risk of breakdowns.
Meanwhile, Dairypower’s hydraulic rope scraper is a unique system which incorporates a hydraulic motor and winch unit. The Dairypower hydraulic rope scraper does not use a geared motor as traditionally used in rope scraper systems; instead, it uses a hydraulic motor which is driven with a hydraulic power pack – the same as used in their ratchet scraper system, which has been tried and tested over the past three decades.
Founder John O’Donovan has also developed a unique slurry aeration system which is designed to maintain stored slurry in a semi-liquid and hence pumpable state. This system has many advantages for the farmer: the slurry is always ready to spread; animal welfare is enhanced as there is no build-up of dangerous gases in the slurry; maintenance costs are minimal as no mechanical parts are in contact with the slurry; and big savings can be made on fertiliser, while grass has a better re-growth rate after spreading.
Reflecting on the formation of the market-leading Cork company, financial manager John O’Brien – the founder’s brother-in-law – notes: “Pat worked for Atkins as a fitter, fitting milking machines, and he decided to branch out on his own. He came from a big family and from an agricultural background, as his father would have bought and sold cattle.
“Dairypower started off in ’73 selling and distributing milking machines. The scraper would have come about twelve years later to complement his existing business and he has made various alterations to that system over the years. We still sell a lot of milking machines to this day, but those are provided exclusively in the Cork area, for servicing reasons. But the scrapers and aeration system are being sold nationwide and worldwide.
“As of 2011, we have a base in the UK, where two guys are selling our equipment throughout Europe from Preston. We also have up to twelve dealers who look after the UK market for us. The UK is a major market and it is effectively a home market. We expect that it will remain a significant market for the foreseeable future.”
Across mainland Europe, Dairypower sells into most countries, including France, Norway, Sweden, Netherlands etc. Substantial growth has been recorded in Eastern Europe over the last three months, with a lot of systems going to Hungary, for example. Dairypower even has a large number of its systems operating throughout Russia, as its Polish agent handles distribution there.
Regarding the unique qualities of the company’s scraper system, John O’Brien explains: “There are a number of different types of scraper on the market but the thing John has developed and patented is the trapping system – the main ratchet system that drives it – and this works in extreme conditions, hot or cold.
“The hydraulic rope scraper was launched in the last few years in response to demand from Europe and we are the only manufacturer in the world using hydraulically-operated ropes. Any guy who is familiar with chains will prefer this system over the traditional ratchet system.”
Despite the massive strides being made in UK and continental markets, Ireland remains the main market for all four Dairypower systems, accounting for 60% of sales. “We relocated the operation two years ago from Whitecross to Blarney, which is ten minutes away from the original premises” notes John. “We still have a workshop facility in Whitecross but the warehouse and office are here in Blarney Business Park and we now have more trade counter sales.”
Dairypower’s place at the forefront of the market is sustained through the design and manufacture of superior products, ongoing research and development, flexibility, fast turnarounds and optimum back-up service. “We pride ourselves on back-up and there is always a specialist at the other end of the phone. A lot of problems can be resolved over the phone.
“We cover the 32 counties, with agents in 15 of them and sales reps on the road covering Munster. At present, we employ a team of 15, plus the two men in the UK.
“As guys get older, they tend to slow down, but John [O’Donovan] is the opposite. He is still on the go all the time and constantly looking out for new ideas and ways to improve his current products. He attends trade fairs regularly and lives and breathes this business. The mind is always going and he’s constantly looking for something to add. We don’t have a huge range of products, but the products we do have are excellent ones. John started out with his three brothers over 40 years ago and they have accumulated the sort of knowledge and experience that you can’t read in a book.”
Looking to the future, John says it is “onwards and upwards” for Dairypower: “We want to keep bettering ourselves,” he concludes. “We are going well but you can always do better and achieve more. We will keep pushing on because there is always competition out there and you will be left standing if you don’t. The products and the service have to be up to scratch because money is tight. We’re still here after 41 years, so the quality is there and we also offer the best possible value.”
Unit 4 Block 11000,
Blarney Business Park,
Telephone: 021 4383100
Fax: 021 4383783
Email: [email protected]