15 September 2000

TWOBIGFIRMSWITHBIGIDEAS

As the home of two of Irelands leading farm machinery

manufacturers, the people of Bagenalstown in Co Carlow

are used to seeing truck loads of agricultural implements

heading out of town. If expansion plans at Tanco and

Hi-Spec Engineering come to fruition, they can expect

to see more, as Peter Hill reports

THERE is no more obvious sign of optimism for continued manufacturing and sales success at Hi-Spec Engineering than the new building that was recently completed at the companys already expansive Bagenalstown premises.

Representing an investment of Ir£1 million, the new facility marks a significant step in the development of the 12-year-old company.

"Weve replaced an existing building that was used for storage but could be used for little else because there was no headroom to install overhead cranes," explains sales director Tom Nolan. "The new building will give us the chance to re-organise our production facilities a bit, but also provide more manufacturing capacity."

With Irelands farm machinery sales remaining buoyant against expectations, Hi-Spec needs all the elbow room it can get. Despite a collapse in sales to the UK due to local market conditions – it was once the companys largest export destination – the companys figures overall are still on the up.

Export markets

New export markets are helping; Hi-Spec energetically sell its diet feeders to farmers in Denmark, Germany, Sweden, Holland and Poland, as well as feeders and vacuum slurry tankers to producers in Iceland and Canada.

"Ireland is in a very competitive position at the moment as far as exports are concerned," says Mr Nolan. "But we are also keen to do our best for the home market too."

Doing that involves continuing to produce a competitive range of diet feeders, including paddle and auger type machines giving operators a choice that suits the feedstuffs being used, while maintaining the "bread and butter" line of tankers and spreaders.

Getting into the diet feeder market involved more than just manufacturing skills; competitors had already established the principle that diet feeder machinery sales needed to be backed with sound nutritional advice. To help farmers get to grips with different ration options and feeding techniques, Hi-Spec sourced the backing of US-based firm Agri-King.

"Agri-King provides nutritional consultancy in Ireland as well as the UK," says Tom Nolan. "Its an essential part of selling the equipment."

He and brothers Michael, John and Henry, who also play key roles in running the business started 12 years ago, remain optimistic that Hi-Spec will continue to serve the specialist machinery needs of farmers in Ireland and overseas.

"We are diversifying a bit, by producing truck-mounted vacuum tankers for sludge work and gully emptying," says Mr Nolan. "But Im sure our core business will continue to be in agricultural engineering for the foreseeable future."

Hi-Spec Engineering sales director, Tom Nolan: "We are diversifying a bit but Im sure our core business will continue to be in agricultural engineering for the foreseeable future."

HI-SPEC ENGINEERING

Factory: 11,150sq m (120,000sq ft); 1ha (2.5 acre) concreted yards.

Employees: 40

Sales: Ir£5 million

Exports: 50-60% to UK, Denmark, Holland, Sweden, Poland, Iceland, Japan, Canada.

Product range: Diet feeders, vacuum slurry tankers, slurry pumps, manure spreaders, industrial truck tankers.