Harry & Lynn Wilson
Wilson Farming, Lancashire
Sponsored by JCB
Harry Wilson has a passion for foragers. But it's not just big kit that's made he and his wife's business such a success. It's their vision and commitment to leave a lasting legacy for future generations that makes theirs a winning team.
The opportunity to take on a 12ha farm arose, and the pair started their own contracting business. "For a few years it was touch and go," he explains, Lynn nodding in agreement.
In the early 1970s there was a spate of bad weather in the north west and Harry's decision to purchase three NH 717 trailed foragers seemed a good one.
In 1975, he bought his first self-propelled forage harvester and by 1978 he had started hiring out machines to other farmers and contractors. It was in 1982 that Harry bought his first Claas 690. Over the years, he's had a staggering 140 Claas foragers, a large proportion which have been hired around the UK and into Ireland. Currently, there's a fleet of 30, of which three are used for the contracting business and the rest are hired out.
Developing harvesting techniques for hemp and miscanthus has become increasingly important to Harry and sons Keith and Ian, and a separate business selling rhizomes has also been developed on the back of this.
All machinery is maintained in line with Harry's strict in-house servicing schedule at workshops any dealer would be envious of. In fact, Claas has been known to call Harry to get parts to customers rather than waiting for them to come from Germany.
Harry is adamant that every farmer should be planning for the long-term future, not just the next couple of years.
As for health and safety, being compliant is simply not enough for Harry. "We want to develop a model for demonstrating good practice." This he wants rolled out to the agricultural workforce nationwide.
The Wilsons hold regular customer health and safety focus meetings, allowing farmers access to experts and also enabling them to map out risk assessments as well as demonstrating the viability of investing in new technology.
And it's not just customers' welfare that gets looked after. All staff get Sundays off at Wilson's. That's a bold move for any contracting business, but one that has meant many of the staff have remained with him. "You can't expect men to work the hours demanded in contracting without some time off to spend with their families."
• Forage harvesting/forager hire
• Energy crop harvesting
• Health and safety training
• Separate business selling rhizomes
WHY THEY WON
• Keenness to leave a legacy to future generations
• Employee welfare and health and safety paramount
• Willing to embrace new technology
Harry is a worthy winner with a strong family business. The firm has grown steadily with investment back in the business to take on the future
This award is about individuals who have built a sustainable business. No one fits that better than Harry and Lynn Wilson who provide a valuable service, while retaining family values.
• Adam Metcalfe
• AWSM Farming, North Yorkshire
Adam has designed a management system fit for the 21st century, allowing him to grow and adapt his business to the constantly changing demands of his customers
• Tim Bloye
• B&B Contracting, Cornwall
Tim is constantly searching for the next opportunity as well as improving the service he can offer his customers. He looks at solving farming and environmental problems fast and efficiently