5 minutes with… Contractor of the Year Magnus Sinclair

It’s been a whirlwind few months for the Farmers Weekly Award winners – 15 extraordinary farmers, advisers, contractors and farmworkers who last year received one of farming’s highest accolades recognising their fantastic business achievements.

We catch up with the Contractor of the Year, Magnus Sinclair of Sinclair Contractors in Aberdeenshire, to find out what he has been doing since the Awards ceremony in October.

See also: Find out what made Magnus Contractor of the Year

Fact file

  • Offers services across northern Scotland
  • Main customer base is arable, dairy and AD plants
  • Work includes forage harvesting, mowing, baling and muck/slurry/digestate spreading

How did you feel after hearing you were a winner?

It was one of the proudest moments of my life. I went to the Awards ceremony with no expectations of winning, as I was in a category with some very strong competition.

Frankly, I was delighted just to be shortlisted to the final three. Winning made me momentarily speechless and the realisation hit me that the work I do matters! 

To have been recognised for my hard work and dedication by a very prestigious panel of judges is still hard to believe.

Magnus Sinclair

Magnus Sinclair © Angus Findlay

What’s your one tip for anyone entering to improve their chances of success?

Be organised. In my opinion, clean and tidy farms equal organised and efficient businesses.

Make sure you plan ahead for the judges’ visit and ensure that the half-day runs smoothly and that you show and tell them everything you feel is important about your business.

You only get one chance to make the right impression.

What traits do you need to be a good farmer?

Passion, commitment, self-motivation and a lot of perseverance. Everyone in the agricultural sector also has to be prepared to embrace new technology and explore new opportunities (we launched one of the first AD plants in our area, for example).

A fastidious approach to record-keeping is also important; it helps us monitor costs carefully and that’s vital when you’re a contractor, as it’s a fiercely competitive sector and we face a lot of competition from one-man bands.

It’s a balancing act for us – of course, we have to control costs, but it’s also important that we spend enough so our machinery is up to date and able to help customers get the very most from their land.

What is your ultimate farming goal?

As many farmers have done, we’ve diversified, offering services beyond our core agricultural contracting outfit over the past decade or so.

We now offer a waste-handling operation, Christmas tree harvesting and farm machinery sales. The waste-handling industry has grown rapidly, but it has involved investing a lot of money to get the best modern machinery needed to handle these materials.

Ultimately, my goal is to continue growing a strong, successful business that my children will be proud to take over and run in the future.

Quick-fire questions

Where have you put your Awards plaque? On the wall in my office.

Finish the sentence. Agriculture is… Hard work, but very rewarding.

If you were Defra secretary for the day and had the power to make one decision, what would it be? Deliver a clean Brexit.

The Farmers Weekly 2019 Contractor of the Year Award is sponsored by Fendt. Enter or nominate now at awards.fwi.co.uk

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