23 August 1996

Rowland plugs gaps with New Holland

HOW do you justify owning over 100 tractors, have a three-year replacement policy and an annual bill approaching £500,000? The answer? You run a tractor hire company.

Frank Rowland, based at Clitheroe, Lancs, owns 110 New Holland tractors and considers his tractor hire business to be one of the largest in the UK.

Tractors ranging from 70hp to 190hp are available for hire and he has customers spread out as far as Penzance, Kent, Aberdeen and Essex.

And business appears to be on the up, reports Mr Rowland.

"With the average tractor now in the region of 100hp and costing about £37,000, the attraction of being able to hire a machine to cope with peak workloads is increasing," he says.

Mr Rowland points out that there are basically two types of customer – the arable farmer and the stock farmer – with each having very different requirements.

"Typically, the stock farmer will hire a tractor for a week in May, a week in June/July and a week later for the third cut of silage. The arable farmer usually hires extra tractors for the 10-week harvest and cultivation period."

So how does Mr Rowland finance his purchases? This year he bought 44 new tractors including 10 New Holland 7840s and 10 7740s.

Mr Rowland sources his finance from New Holland Finance on a monthly fixed rate plan over three years – the life of his tractors.

For his customers a typical charge for hiring say, a 90hp four-wheel drive tractor would be £280 a week with the addition of a distance-related delivery and collection charge.

For a stock farmer in Cheshire hiring for three separate weeks, for example, this would equate to three £280 payments and three delivery and collection fees of £100 – a total of £1140.

An arable customer in Norfolk hiring a 115hp four-wheel drive tractor for 10 weeks would have a hire bill of £2970 (including a 10% discount for 10 week hire) plus a £250 charge for delivery and collection – £3220 in all.

"If a tractor needs repairing we either collect it – having replaced it with a new one – or, if it is too far away, the local New Holland dealer is contacted and he repairs it," Mr Rowland explains.

Overall, Mr Rowland believes that although hiring will never become an alternative to owning tractors, it is a useful stopgap for businesses which are not in a position to invest at that particular point in time.

"People we deal with end up contacting their local dealer and purchasing the same model they have hired from me," he says.n

Ready for hire – a New Holland 7740 – one of 10 bought by Frank Rowland this year for his Clitheroe-based tractor hire business.

With 110 units, Frank Rowland operates one of the largest tractor hire businesses in the UK.