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Reaching new heights in trailer design and sales

With no shortage of firms, Co Carlow is one of the most prolific agricultural engineering counties in the country.

Broughan Engineering, located just outside Tullow, Co Carlow, is owned by brothers Patrick and Paul Broughan. The firm was established 11 years ago, but the brothers' engineering legacy was started by their father, Paddy, who started to combine farming and engineering more than 30 years ago.

Before they branched out on their own, the brothers worked for another well-known Carlow engineering firm, Hi Spec Engineering.

"We were doing contract work for Hi Spec and we started to make buckets, forks and do general repairs," says Patrick.

"Then, one day, a local farmer said to us would we make a trailer. That one led to another one and to where we are now. We still do repairs, and the odd bucket and fork, but trailers are what we mostly do."

Both Patrick and Paul work on the factory floor themselves, along with another three full-time employees. The largest percentage of what they construct is silage and grain trailers from 16ft long with twin axles to 26ft in tri-axle.

They also make a fair quantity of cattle trailers from 16ft single axle, up to 34ft tri-axle in what ever specification the customer wants.

In flat-bodied bale trailers, the duo manufacture 25-36ft tri-axle as well, again with the emphasis on the specification that the customer wants.

"We used to make a lot of dump trailers and low-loaders but because the economy went the way it went, those products have gone slow with it," Patrick says.

"This year is better than last year and 2009 which was the worst year altogether."

Orders this year are looking very good, Patrick maintains.


"So far this year we have 40 plus silage trailers ordered for the first cut of silage and we would expect more orders for the second cut," he said.

A new phenomenon the lads are experiencing is 'last-minute buying'.

"What is happening now that never happened to us before is that lads are last-minute buying and it is fierce hard for us to build stock for this because you don't know whether customers will want air brakes, hydraulic doors or even if the colour or tyre size is right," Patrick said.

While this does bother them, Patrick says they already build trailers to a very high specification, so it is easy to upgrade the specification.

"For example, if there are no air brakes fitted, it is very easy for us to fit them afterwards," Patrick says.

Initially the Broughan brothers used to handle all the sales themselves from their base in Tullow but they found that to get coverage all over Ireland, they had to go through dealers.

"We've trailers going into England as well, but only recently because sterling doesn't always favour us," Patrick adds.

"It's a hard market to get into because there are a lot of trailer manufacturers over in Britain. Many of these trailers would be a lower specification trailer to what is sold on the Irish market."

Even further afield, the boys have had a few enquiries from France, which they are now exploring.

"France is a good market for high-spec product if you could get into it," Patrick says.

A stumbling block to an otherwise positive trade is the current lack of finance. Three quarters of what the lads sell goes through dealers around the country, while the remainder is bought locally -- but finance remains an issue.

"Seventy percent of our buyers were financed through Ollie McGuire and Permanent TSB," Patrick says. "McCarthy's in Cork sell a lot of trailers for us and they are also telling us that finance is a problem."

The Broughans are not unduly worried about future legislation impacting on trailer design.

"We'd be pushing for more weight than what they're saying because of the trailers we're building. We're building all our trailers on commercial-spec axles," Patrick says.

"We build a lot of trailers already to the top spec, with air suspension, air drawbar, ABS and probably the safest hitch on the road, the ball and spoon drawbar, supplied by Dromone Engineering in Meath."


Paul claims that up to 90pc of customers are buying trailers fitted with air brakes because most of their customers have 50kph tractors -- and all 50kph tractors have air brakes fitted. All of the six new trailers in their yard, including a bale trailer, are equipped with both air and hydraulic brakes.

The firm offers two makes of tyre for customers looking for lower ground pressure wheels. The size of both options is 560/60R22.5 and they can run on air pressures as low as three bar as opposed to nine bar for a regular truck wheel.

On the morning of my visit to the Broughan brothers, I bought the Farming Independent. On the front page the headline read "Cattle prices hit a 30-year high".

Patrick confirmed this in relation to his trailer sales.

"The cattle trailer market has picked up well," he said. "This early on in the year we already have half the trailers made that we made last year."

It is certainly looking positive for Broughan Trailers this year.

Grain/silage trailers start at €11,000 plus VAT for an 18x8ft basic specification and go up to around €23,000 plus VAT for a 26ft full-spec, three-axle, on air, up-and-over tailgate.

Additional options include ABS, lift axle, rear-steered axle and Command-steer axles (first and third axles steered are via mechanical over-hydraulic linkage).

For more information, contact Broughan Trailers on 059 916 3697 or visit www.

Indo Farming