As part of this week’s Career Focus series, That’s Farming speaks to Diarmaid Waldron about his salesman role at Johnston Farm Equipment Ltd, working in Australia and New Zealand, and the Massey Ferguson brand.
Diarmaid Waldron (34) from Shroid, County Longford, does not come from a farming background but has many years of agriculture success under his belt.
He is the organiser of the St Stephen’s day Shroid Parish Tractor Run and salesman at Johnston Farm Equipment Ltd in County Longford.
“I grew up as a small child with a great interest in tractors and machinery. The first week of June, when my grandfather and granduncle would open the gate to start mowing for silage, it would go on for a week; it was the highlight of the summer for me. The love of Massey Ferguson came from the summers in the 1990s,” he told That’s Farming.
“When I grew into my teens, I worked with local contractor, George Allen, part-time driving Massey Ferguson tractors while I was studying in St Mel’s College. As I got older, I became interested in the mechanics of how a tractor worked.”
In 2005, he completed his Leaving Certificate and started an apprenticeship for five years with Flynn Machinery Mullingar, a Massey Ferguson and Fendt dealership.
From 2009 to 2019, he worked as an employee and mechanic with Ken Butler, an agricultural contractor in Streete, Mullingar, County Westmeath.
“It would have been a huge advantage doing agricultural contracting, I would have been well-known, and I would have met many farmers over the years.”
Diarmaid enrolled at IT Tralee to complete an apprenticeship in agricultural mechanics. The course involved tractors, machinery, engines, electronics, hydraulics, fuel, calibration of machinery, setting of knives on harvesters, welding, and new technologies.
In 2010, he travelled to Australia to gain an insight into the grain almond and cotton harvesting on large farms in New South Wales, Australia.
Furthermore, from 2013 to 2014, he ventured to New Zealand to work with Flintoft Contractors during silage season operating a Volvo L20F loading shovel. “Five friends and I said we would head out and experience the harvest season in New Zealand.”
Johnston Farm Equipment
In 2019, Diarmaid began working with Johnston Farm Equipment Ltd, and his first sale came from a 150 horsepower Massey Ferguson 6715s tractor.
Today, he works from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm Monday to Friday alongside a team of fifteen people.
“There is not one bad word I can say, it is a challenging job, and I love it; I have no complaints. It was established in 1983 by Derek Johnston, who started in Keenagh, Longford. He was the main Massey Ferguson dealer, and we are still a Massey Ferguson dealership today.”
Furthermore, they offer a 0% finance option on a wide range of machinery,
They are primary importers for Hustler round bale feeders, Hackett chain harrows, Bury sprayers and disc harrows, Tehnos flail mulchers, mowers, and Marshall rear discharge dung spreaders.
“This time of the year, we are selling many Teagle and Sulky fertiliser spreaders, chain harrows, rear discharge spreaders and sprayers.”
“We have a few new balers sold and many enquiries for the upcoming season for the Massey Ferguson grass equipment range (mowers, tedders, rakes, balers).”
Range of tractors
Diarmaid believes the 110 to 180 horsepower range of Massey Ferguson tractors are the most common seller. He noted the new Massey Ferguson model tractor ranging from 105 to 145 horsepower due in April from the Massey Ferguson factory is gaining interest already.
“This year, Johnston Farm Equipment has sold 20 new Massey Ferguson tractors to date, followed by the same number of used tractors. The technology has evolved and fingertipped in the Dyna 4 and the Dyna 6, which has a lovely transmission to work with and drive.”
“Every day is not the same day; you are out on the road selling, and delivering machinery, demonstrating machines; it is amazing how quick the day goes.”
“Another salesman who is here for the last ten years is Kane O’ Connor; he taught me well. It works very well, as there is always a salesman on the premises and the other one is out on the road.”
Diarmaid believes when selling a new tractor; you should ask the farmer what they require in terms of horsepower, spec, and budget.
“There is no point trying to sell him a 150-horsepower tractor when all he needs is 110-horsepower. The farmer today does get a shock when he asks how much a particular tractor is.”
“New tractors could start at €75,000 right to €110,000 – depending on the horsepower and spec. I do try to give the farmer a fair price for his trade-in, taking his trade-in into account and break down the finance over seven years with 0%, which is half the battle. Selling is not all about selling a new tractor; trade-ins have to be sold as well.”
“Your number one key thing to selling is your backup service. There is no point selling tractors and machinery if you have no backup service.”
“The customer always wants a backup service and wants to know a mechanic or salesman will answer him day or night, as a piece of mind. The farmer will always spend regardless.”
According to Diarmaid, the business has implemented Covid-19 measures to keep its staff safe during the ongoing pandemic.
“You are conscious the whole time with your gloves on, using sanitiser, and always wearing your face mask with customers. You are always staying your two-metre distance; as much as you want to sell a machine or tractor, you must take the seriousness of Covid-19 into account.”
Looking ahead, Diarmaid is pleased with the company’s progress. He keeps his knowledge updated through Massey Ferguson and machinery Zoom courses. Secondly, he believes the firms backup service and machinery demonstrations fuel the company’s success.
Last summer, Diarmaid and his colleague Kane, completed two Massey Ferguson grass demonstrations consisting of Massey Ferguson mowers and combi-baler and wrapper, to farmers in the Midlands and North West area.
“We gained a few new customers who liked the product and are happy to buy it. The key to selling is demonstrating and letting the farmer see the machine in action. When you see a machine, it serves the machine and the excellent output.”
“Our main plan is to look after our existing and new customers. There is no point expanding too much and forgetting about your loyal customers. It is important to keep your customers going and ensure they have no downtime.” Diarmaid Waldron concluded.
You can find out more about Johnston Farm Equipment Ltd here
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