Celebrating 50 years of service
Few machinery dealers can claim to have represented one key brand for half a century, but Norfolk and Cambridgeshire-based Ben Burgess marked 50 years supplying John Deere products and service with ambitious celebrations in May. David Williams reports. Ben Burgess took on the John Deere franchise in 1966, the first year it was available through the newly formed UK and Ireland importer John Deere Ltd. Reliability and ease of use helped the brand gain popularity and its range included models with more power than was typical of the period; all features which appealed to East Anglian farmers. The dealership was set up by Ben Burgess, Edward Burgess and Norman Marshall in 1931 to sell diesel-engined Marshall tractors, while most other brands at that time used traditional petrol/paraffin power units. A dealer campaign which included demonstrations and contracting, established the Marshall name and acceptance of diesel tractors in Norfolk and built a dealer business which later supplied Turner tractors, Claas combine harvesters and Lundell forage harvesters. A second branch was opened in Beeston, Norfolk in 1962, before adding the John Deere franchise in 1966. During the 1980s, demand for improved coverage resulted in a new branch at Aylsham, Norfolk
and, in 2003, a Newmarket branch was acquired from Blyth & Pawsey to serve farmers in west Suffolk, east Cambridgeshire, south-west Norfolk and north Essex. Further growth resulted from acquiring another existing John Deere dealer; Anker of Coates with depots at Coates and Ellington, extending the area served further into Cambridgeshire, Northamptonshire and Bedfordshire. Although agricultural machinery is a key focus, other specialist businesses acquired over the years provide a full service to farmers including electric motor specialist Thomas Wilch & High, sheet metal engineers FC Walker, and Bloomfield Installations which specialises in grain handling, storage equipment and facilities. Greencrop Irrigation is also part of the Group, offering nationally recognised expertise in irrigation equipment from pumps to Irrimec applicators and electronic control equipment. Grounds care and construction equipment are growing areas of the business and the crop storage department is well known in the local area.
Marking 50 years Two events, one at Huntingdon Racecourse, and the other at the Norfolk Showground, near Norwich, included displays of the main machinery brands and put at least one event within easy reach of
customers across the trading area. “We wanted to celebrate our 50 years representing John Deere, as well as letting customers know about everything else we do. It isn’t often that we can have all our ranges displayed in one location, so it’s a great opportunity to provide an enjoyable event for customers, with all our specialist staff on-hand to explain the latest developments and services we offer,” explained managing director Ben Turner. John Deere, Manitou, Grimme, Horsch, Kuhn, Gregoire-Besson, Weidemann, Hitachi, Lynx, Zurn, McConnel, GT Bunning and Bailey Trailers, as well as Irrimec irrigation equipment were all represented, and Agrii agronomists were on-hand to discuss the benefits of field mapping as well as targeted soil and crop nutrition. Heavy showers in the afternoon of the Huntingdon event gave way to brighter spells during early evening. Field operations in the area were on hold due to the weather, and company representatives were busy dealing with enquiries from the continued over...
Greencrop Irrigation is enjoying a busy year said sales manager Howard Chantry. Most interest is from potato growers keen to exploit the latest technology to optimise water use and reduce waste. Irrimec Elite irrigation reels, for which Greencrop is the sole importer, offer features that appeal to professional users including built-in GSM telephone control as standard to record water usage through the irrigator, he explained. New, smaller centre-pivot and linear irrigators are due to become available next year from Irrimec’s Otech brand, offering greater accuracy and versatility.
Staff from most of the companies represented at the event pose for a photo ahead of the Huntingdon event.
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