Making a success out of muck

Steven Suggitt is not from a farming family in the traditional sense, but he has been working on farms all his life – it’s all he knows.

When he and his wife Sarah decided to start a contracting business from scratch three years ago, many people thought they were bordering on insanity.

Before setting up the business – Suggitt Farm Services – both Steven and Sarah were working for other people.

Steven was employed by a local contractor putting in massive hours when he decided it was time for a change – he wanted to be his own boss.

Sarah decided to pack in her full time job and take on a full-time role in the business looking after the financial side of things.

As with any fledgling business trying to get off the ground, financial backing had to be secured.

For this Steven and Sarah had to put together a business plan to convince the bank to stump up a 100,000 loan.

The first and most significant contract – which formed the basis of that business plan – was with a local beef producer with over 2500 head of cattle on straw yards.

Mucking out the sheds and spreading manure generates four week’s work for two men, tractors and spreaders every three months.

“This was really what has formed the backbone of the firm and from this we have been able to put a business plan together to secure financial backing to invest in kit,” says Mr Suggitt.

Twenty five new customers signed up in that first year and nearly all of which put in repeat business.

This increase in workload has allowed the company to take on three full-time staff, which brings with it some financial stress.

“One of the biggest worries with keeping staff on the books is ensuring we have enough work to keep them occupied and, more importantly, to pay their wages,” says Mrs Suggitt.

In the second year of operation a second-hand Krone Big Pack baler was bought from local contractor, Robert Self – previous FW contractor comment contributor – which brought with it a substantial workload, 12,000 bales in total.

“We have been contracted to carry out that same work this year plus 3000 or so more on top of that,” says Mr Suggitt.

With the majority of the workload as muck spreading, Mr Suggitt reckons that the firm handles in excess of 100,000t of material a year.

The latest addition to the kit list is a Bunning 230 Wide Body muck spreader.

“It’s capable of handling 1000t of manure each day and it gives us the opportunity to diversify into new areas – like composting operations.

“We purchased the new spreader a month ago because with the increase in workload we need to keep our existing and newer customers happy, or they won’t be our customers for long,” says Mr Suggitt.

“In a move to diversify we bought it with a specialist compost kit,” he says.

In this guise the machine can be fitted with a set of rear doors which restrict material flow allowing the rotors to act like a mixer ensuring compost is mixed evenly.

“So far this year we have spread about 5000t of compost and we are looking to expand that figure next year,” he says.

“It’s a growing market that bolsters our straight agricultural work”.

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