Family firm built on passion and pride
I MET Tony O'Mahony and his three sons on a Friday evening and the encounter left me feeling energised for the weekend.
This family-run contracting operation, based in Bandon, Co Cork, has built a reputation founded on passion, pride and energy. And I can vouch that the team's enthusiasm and appetite for work is truly infectious.
The business is built around four elements: silage and forage, plant work, truck haulage and general slurry, and cultivation duties.
By its nature, it is hard, low margin work, but the business is sustained by attention to customer needs and speedy service.
It is a real family effort, involving three of Mr O'Mahony's four sons. Micheál keeps an eye on the overall business finance and work schedule; Seán looks after the baling operation, breakdowns and maintenance; while Dermot looks after the truck and haulage duties.
Mr O'Mahony's wife Margaret also plays her part – indeed the men are quick to describe her as being "the strong, quiet backbone to the business".
Mrs O'Mahony takes her job of ensuring all staff are given regular hot meals very seriously. Whenever possible, she insists on bringing staff into the family kitchen rather than letting them eat on the job. Staff appreciate this personal touch and it also allows for better communication and work scheduling between the team.
The firm now offers a vast range of agricultural services to its large customer base. Services include:
* Precision chop silage baling
* Wrapping and stacking maize nWhole crop silage
* Setting and harvesting.
* Umbilical cord slurry spreading with a trailing shoe applicator
* Lime and farmyard manure spreading
* Ploughing, power harrowing and direct drilling.
A new Claas Jaguar 970 harvester has just been added to the fleet and other new additions to the fleet this spring include a trailed Kuhn sprayer, an APV tine harrow and seeder, and two new Smyth trailers.
Keeping such a large range of machinery on the books poses maintenance and repayment challenges each month.
The O'Mahonys, however, have struck the right balance between having enough kit to cater for all seasons and maintaining a steady year-round flow of work to maintain cashflow.
"It's no use being very busy in the summer, but then not having anything to do in the winter – machine repayments don't stop when the silage season stops," said Mr O'Mahony.
"We have found that adding extra machinery to the fleet gives us the tools required to generate income at quieter times of the year. For example, this is the first year we have gotten into umbilical spreading.
"We invested in a Slurrykat system and customers have been impressed with the output it offers compared to tanker spreading. It also avoids compaction damage when the ground isn't up to supporting heavy tankers."
Outside of any existing warranty on new machines, the O'Mahonys look after their own maintenance. This is quite an undertaking given that their inventory includes no less than seven New Holland tractors, a Claas 970 harvester, a Krone Big M mower, a McHale Fusion 2 baler, four excavators, four trucks and a fleet of silage trailers.
Dealer back-up is crucial and is supplied by a range of local well-known dealers.
Overall, we were very impressed with this contractor. They appear willing to do everything possible to keep customers happy and provide as many services as possible, even for smaller customers.
This is one Cork outfit that is here to stay.