As part of the Agricultural Contractor of the Week segment, That’s Farming, speaks to Ross Goldrick from Ross Goldrick Agri about cutting costs by buying second-hand machinery.
In 2015, Ross Goldrick, from Kilnaleck, County Cavan, who does not hail from a farming background, established his own agricultural contracting business.
“I never went to college at all. I was always around machinery growing up and started working for contractors,” Ross Goldrick told That’s Farming.
“Previously, I worked with Jimmy Goldrick for a few years and Brady Plant Hire. Furthermore, I worked for Cobey Quarries in Crosskeys and still work for them an odd time.”
“I grew up in the country, and I would not be a city person. Honestly, I enjoy it [contracting]. So, you have your days at it where things are going wrong, but it is all part of it.“
Establishing Goldrick Agri
According to Ross, building a business from scratch presented some challenges, but he has risen to meet these by buying second-hand machinery to cut costs.
“I managed the funding myself; you just save up and buy good second-hand stuff. I do not buy anything new; you would always get second-hand tractors at the same value.”
Today, Ross’s fleet of tractors comprise, a Massey Ferguson 6490 (2011), Massey Ferguson 6290 (2002), and a John Deere 6800 (1995).
“You buy what you need and not what you want starting out.If I see something at a good value, I will buy it. It was not that it was John Deere, Massey Ferguson, or New Holland.”
“The Massey Ferguson tractor is a little more affordable than the John Deere, but I would not make preference to any make; they are all as good as each other.”
Furthermore, he possesses a McHale F550 baler, Pöttinger EuroTop 881A rake, Chieftain 14-tonne dump trailer, Abbey 3000-gallon tandem axle slurry tank, Abbey 2100-gallon slurry tank, Goeweil wrapper, NC 3500 slurry pump, Kverneland 9ft trailed mower, and two 9ft mulchers.
Goldrick offers a wide range of agricultural contracting services, including baling, wrapping, mowing, mulching, slurry spreading, agitating, and low loader and dump trailer hire.
Building a customer base
Presently, Ross carries out work for just shy of forty customers, which gradually built from an initial eight clients in 2015.
“You might get a little bit of work of people and then a good bit of work if you do it right and do not have people flying around in tractors, causing a nuisance around the yard.”
“If I tell you, we will be there at a certain time; I will be there and even before the time if we can.”
“The first year, I had no baler and done mowing and dump trailer work. I mowed 800 acres for two contractors who done pit silage; I use to mow for them if they were under pressure.
“TThe second year I started to bale and produced 2,000 bales, it was good enough for starting off. Then, we started building to 3,500 bales, and we are up around 6,500 to 7,000 bales now, depending on the crops.”
Costs and investment
According to Ross, over the last seven years, “serious changes” have occurred since he first entered the field with increasing machinery and fuel costs.
“In another couple of years, it will be difficult to get drivers. It is hard to get good drivers; you will get lots of bad ones that do a lot of harm.”
He noted the Cavan area already has “enough contractors with umbilical systems”, but he may invest in a Low Emission Slurry Spreading (LESS) dribble bar option.
“In a couple of years, there will be no such thing as a splash plate. Farming is moving with the times, but that is the way it has to go.”
Looking ahead, Ross would like to grow his business by making a further 2,000 silage bales and maintain his customer base with room for growth.
“I plan this year to buy a set of side and rear-mounted mowers and will change to a McHale fusion baler with the lack of help.”
“You can make a good living at it, but you would want to be careful what you are spending. You need to be able to fix 60% of everything yourself.”
“If you have a breakdown and you are waiting on a mechanic to come out, you could be a day waiting for something simple gone wrong.”
“You have to keep the book work right. I try to encourage myself to write down what I have done every evening when I come home. Weather is the biggest issue.”
“If you take on enough work to make a good wage out of it and do it right, everyone seems to be a little happier.” the owner of Ross Goldrick Agri concluded.