Policy change brings a venture on to new turf
AS McConnel approached its 65th year of trading in 1999, the company, on its own admission, was in a staid position with little if any apparent enthusiasm to take the market by storm.
True, the companys future was assured as it continued to manufacture and successfully market its range of hedge and verge mowers but, according to marketing manager Christian Davies, there was no dynamic thinking for the future.
He describes the company at that time as: "Engineering led, rather than sales led." He adds: "The whole emphasis appeared to be on refining our existing product lines and not exploiting the opportunities the market had to offer."
But two years on and there is new vibrancy about the company. Product line-up now includes a range of machinery for the expanding turf care and amenity markets and, recognition that the hedge and verge mower business is increasingly the domain of the contractor, a bigger and more sophisticated range of machines for that sector.
It is also marketing a wide, three-bladed grass topper – the SR15 – which it also intends to sell into industries having large areas of grass to contain, such as airports.
The origins of McConnels turf care equipment can be traced back 10 years when it bought Dabro, a company which specialised in such machines. The range now includes drainers, aerators, toppers, and compact hedge and verge mowers.
For the agricultural verge and hedge trimming market and, more specifically for the contractor, the company now offers its Easy Drive System (EDS) which is designed to provide an automatic flail head float when verge trimming, which increases outputs significantly, says the company.
There is also the recently introduced digital armrest control system which employs a joystick to provide all major power arm movements: raise and lower, extend and retract and flail head pivot. This latter movement is achieved by twisting the top of the joystick.
McConnels new found lust for innovation also extends to tractor care. The company is now able to supply a bonnet cover to protect tractors from the battering they normally receive from flying twigs when hedges are being trimmed.
McConnel is a very different company to that of a few years ago. And with such changes have come financial rewards, which have seen its annual turnover rise by 25% over the past two years. *
Protect that bonnet from flying twigs. This padded cover can be supplied to fit most makes of tractor and costs £150.
McConnels intends to market the SR15 grass topper in such diverse businesses as airports, sports areas and golf courses – as well as for the control of set-aside areas.