In this week’s Career Focus segment, That’s Farming, speaks to Theresa Sheedy, who established Theresa’s Country Supplies in the middle of the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic [All images in interview: Skyview Photography].
The last twelve months have been a “rollercoaster” for new agri-businesswoman, Theresa Sheedy, who established her own firm, Theresa’s Country Supplies, in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The 31-year-old felt that the only way to cap the pandemic’s uncertainty was to “grab the reigns myself and control what course to take”.
Theresa’s Country Supplies
Having been employed by a local milking machine dealer in an after-market sales position, she identified an opening in the market whereby a farmer required a knowledgeable professional to advise on the best options to meet each individual’s needs.
“Once I discussed my business plan with certain proven and reputable suppliers, they gave me the confidence to pursue my dream. They also believed there was a place in the market for my business model.”
Through her agricultural supplies business, based outside Newcastle West, Co Limerick, she specialises in advising and supplying products to the dairy industry, stocking 675 products in total.
After conducting an on-farm assessment, she will recommend products to suit each farmer’s requirements to achieve optimum results in any given particular area of concern.
“My motto since setting up TCS is that there is no such thing as one product fits all. My main aim is to have a wide variety of products available for both the equine and wider agricultural industry.”
675 agri and equine products
She currently specialises in dairy detergents with a special emphasis on chlorine-free detergents to correspond with new legislation for milk suppliers.
“As previously stated, I truly believe that there is no such thing as one product fits all. So, therefore, I will visit each farm to recommend the best products suitable to clean their milking machines & bulk tanks.”
She also stocks a wide range of teat spray products where again, she will determine which product to recommend after a discussion with a farmer client.
“I specialise in dealing with cell count issues. I will be doing a workshop on such at the end of August.”
She also supplies sublime, a mixture of sawdust and lime, for cubicle bedding and shavings and sawdust to the equine industry.
“I like to meet each customer face to face & discuss their requirements for a particular product. Then, I give my recommendation on what is the most suitable product to use.”
“Covid-19 restrictions had no real impact as I was providing an essential service. However, simple administrational tasks became very time consuming as other companies had restricted the number of employees in their offices, so, therefore, calls took longer.”
The Limerick native was not born into a farm, but she spent her early years on her uncle’s farm in Feohanagh, where her love of “animals and farming began”.
Sheedy, who will celebrate her first year in business next week, explained to That’s Farming:
“It has been told to me that as soon as I could walk, I headed straight to the calf houses to help feed calves.”
“I would then sit with them for hours and sometimes fall asleep with them. When little girls my age played with dolls, I played with tractors and model farms,” she laughed.
“Furthemore, I have great memories of going to the National Ploughing Championship with my family.”
“I was only two-years-old when I went on my first trip there and have been going ever since. I would always buy toy machinery and animals to keep up the stock on my model farm at home.”
“Spending my early years on my uncle’s farm, I knew then that I wanted to spend my working years with animals.”
Theresa runs a calf-rearing operation with her 16-year-old brother, James, buying 40-50 calves, a mix of Angus, Friesians and Herefords, at three-weeks-old.
“I have repeat buyers that purchase these in late October each year,” the AIT business in equine studies graduate explained.
“I believe that calf rearing is something I do very well. To note, I gained fantastic experience while working on a calf rearing farm in New Zealand.”
“As I learned a unique system for rearing calves in New Zealand, I was confident in implementing this knowledge into my own calf rearing regime in Ireland. I was truly delighted with the results I achieved.”
Worklife challenge and support network
The new businesswoman has found achieving a work/life balance as one of the biggest challenges. She juggles running a business and a farm with parenting her 3-year-old daughter, Sinead.
“However, I would not change it for the world. I am so grateful to my wonderful childminder, Anne. I work each day knowing that my little girl is in the safest hands.”
“When my work runs into the weekends, my mother is always willing to step in to mind her adored granddaughter.”
“My family and my suppliers helped greatly by advising & supporting me when I was setting up the business. I am extremely happy with the direction the business is going.”
“My main priority is to continue to provide every one of my customers a top-class service. Going forward, I will slowly add to my product line after consultation with my customers and take their requirements on board.
She is currently trialling a new product line, and all going to plan; it should hit the pre-Christmas market.
“My ultimate goal is to continue to deliver the best possible product lines and advice to all my customers and potential clients.”
“I successfully set up TCS during a worldwide pandemic. I am sincerely thankful to every one of my customers who have supported me and enabled the business to grow.”
“Without their trust in me and my product lines, TCS would not be the company it is today. I would not have set up the business only for the Covid-19 pandemic,” she concluded.