Specialist team focused on top quality products - Fruit & Vine

Specialist team focused on top quality products

Focusing on a small number of carefully selected brands is ensuring a specialist dealer team can meet the needs of fruit growers and vineyards across East Anglia and the South-East. David Williams reports.

(l-r): Service manager, Andrew Pearce; group sales manager (south) and Stockbury outlet manager, Harry Durrant; fruit and vineyard product sales specialist, Andy Page; parts sales advisor, Maxine Glover; HR administrator, Rebecca Arnley; fruit service team leader, Stuart Nind; service administrator, Jan Kingsman; parts sales advisor, Jake Dowson; and apprentice service technician, Michael Holt

John Deere main dealer, Tuckwells employs almost 300 people working from a network of 10 depots across Suffolk, Essex, Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire, Kent, Surrey and Sussex. More than 110 staff members are technicians and engineers, guaranteeing customers and their machines receive exceptional back-up. Most customers are farmers, but increased demand for specialist tractors and machinery from fruit and vine growers led to the creation of a dedicated team, equipped with the knowledge, skills and training to meet the needs of the industry.

The fruit and vineyard sales and service teams are based primarily at the dealer’s Stockbury, Kent depot, although trained staff at all the depots are available to advise customers regarding what machines and specifications are available. As well as John Deere, the specialist division offers complementary brands including Kramer handlers, plus Tehnos and Teyme products for which the dealer is the UK importer.

Ideally located

“Located in such a significant fruit growing area, Stockbury was the natural base for our specialist team,” explained group sales manager (south) and Stockbury depot manager, Harry Durrant. “Two other depots south of the Thames include Ivychurch, Kent and Framfield in East Sussex. These are also areas with large numbers of orchards and vineyards, although their proximity to Stockbury means that the dedicated team there provides specialist support for their customers too.”

John Deere narrow tractors

John Deere introduced updated specialist narrow tractors last autumn. The 5G line-up includes models from 73 to 111hp (max) and from only 1.25m wide. Customers can select between V – vineyard, N – standard narrow, and F – fruit variants, with a choice of 1.0 and 1.2m wide flat floor cabs. Large windows provide exceptional visibility and Cat 4 filtration for spraying is an option. “Most tractors we sell are the GF version with a narrow body width but a wide footprint, ensuring stability for working with the latest, higher capacity and wider sprayers,” explained Tuckwells fruit and vineyard product sales specialist, Andy Page. “Industry-leading hydraulic performance provides plenty of capacity for modern implements, while a separate circuit ensures steering and braking efficiency is always optimal.”

The tractors are available with a 5,000-hour, five-year manufacturer warranty. “Average use is approximately 1,000 hours per year, although dedicated sprayer tractors work up to 1,200 hours,” continued Andy. “Customers appreciate the John Deere-backed warranty, and finance packages provided by John Deere’s own bank makes them flexible and competitive. We offer a superb ownership package.”

As well as new tractors, Tuckwells always has a selection of used John Deere narrow tractors in stock. “We prepare and sell them with a warranty, up to five years of age or up to 5,000 hours worked, as long as the tractors have been sold new and serviced by us,” said Andy. “These are a cost-effective option and supplied to a quality customers expect of John Deere. We also have a large hire fleet, allowing customers to have the use of a John Deere tractor for any period more than one week.”

Kramer handlers

Tuckwells Kramer handler
Kramer manufactures a large range of handlers, including compact rigid chassis models with four-wheel steering, ideal for orchard and vineyard applications

The Kramer handler range includes compact models ideal for orchard and vineyard applications. Service manager Andrew Pearce commented that Kramer handlers feature a rigid chassis and four-wheel steering. “The design makes them more stable than similar-size articulated models. They are efficient and reliable, and all our customers like them.”

Kramer recently introduced battery-powered versions of two of its compact handlers, and Andrew said that these can replace diesel models in some situations. “As the technology continues to improve, we expect to see wider adoption of battery-powered machines, particularly for the reduced working noise levels and lower emissions.”

Tehnos flails and mulchers

Tehnos manufactures flails for agricultural and forestry use, including narrow shredders, mulchers and mowers for orchard and vineyard operation. Andrew said that Tehnos build quality is superb, and the user-friendly design makes them so easy to look after that many customers do their own maintenance, relying on the dealer only to supply replacement wearing parts.

Tuckwells Teyme orchard and vineyard sprayer
The Teyme orchard and vineyard sprayer range met Tuckwells’ exceptionally high requirements for product quality and back-up

Teyme specialist sprayers

Spanish manufacturer, Teyme produces professional crop application machinery including linkage mounted and trailed mist blowers, pneumatic sprayers, dusters, boom sprayers, humidifiers and cannon sprayers.

Not a supermarket

“We are very proud to offer this limited range of top-quality brands,” explained Harry. “John Deere has a superb reputation for reliability as well as dependable parts and dealer back-up to minimise downtime. Our customers are used to exceptionally high standards of service, so we only associate ourselves with machinery and brands that won’t let our customers down.

“We are often approached by UK and overseas suppliers wanting us to sell their machinery, but our strict selection process considers factors such as training and advice available for our service teams as well as parts availability and lead times. Very few companies we consider meet the standards required, which means that customers buying Tehnos or Teyme machinery from us can be assured that that it will perform well, be reliable and when back-up is needed it will be quickly available.”

Dedicated workshop team

Five members of the dedicated fruit and vineyard aftersales team include two technicians, two third-year apprentices and a parts specialist. The workshop is overseen by the Stockbury depot service manager, Andrew Pearce, who also looks after the main agricultural workshop, while Stewart Nind leads the team specialising in John Deere 5G tractor repairs and maintenance in a separate building. “I enjoy working on the John Deere specialist tractors,” said Stewart. “Previously we were also responsible for repairs and maintenance of groundcare machinery and horticultural products, but setting up the separate division for orchard and vineyard tractors allows us to provide the highest standards of service.

A dedicated workshop team looks after specialist John Deere narrow tractors, Teyme sprayers and Tehnos flails. Pictured, workshop manager, Stewart Nind (right) with third-year apprentice, Michael Holt

“We either service machines on site using our fully equipped service vans, or for larger repairs and major services the tractors are brought to the Stockbury depot, and we provide suitable tractors on loan for customers to use instead.”

Stewart and his team also look after the Tehnos flails and Teyme sprayers. “I’m really impressed by both manufacturers,” he confirmed. “For us to guarantee great customer back-up, we must be able to rely on our suppliers. Both companies have engaged with us to ensure familiarity with all the products we supply including knowing how they work, and how to service and repair them. Training at the overseas factories was supplemented by training here in the UK too, including during product installations for our customers. Extra help is available by phone from a team that speaks excellent English, and they talk us through identifying and fixing any problems. Downtime for customers is minimal.”

Precision farming systems

John Deere is known in the agricultural industry for its precision farming technology, and the same systems are available for the specialist narrow tractor range too. JD Link provides wireless connectivity and telemetry through the Operations Center smartphone app and desktop applications, allowing job details and tasks including variable rate application maps to be sent direct to the user and tractor from the agronomist or farm office.

Andy Page (left) with Harry Durrant

“We have customers using up to 30 John Deere narrow tractors, and authorised users can view the locations and operating status of all their tractors on their phones at any time,” said Andy. “Our service team monitors the working hours, and when routine maintenance is due, then managers or owners are contacted to agree a convenient time for work to be carried out. Their job is made easier, and tractors are kept in optimum condition.”

Tuckwells also has a team of eight technology specialists between the 10 depots, whose job is to ensure customers obtain the very best performance and efficiency from their machinery investment.

“The partnership between our team and customers is fundamental,” stressed Harry. “Our job is to help owners optimise utilisation of their machines and the technology team assists with machine installations and operator training and advises on aspects of operation such as ballasting and correct tyre pressures. They also look after installations and provide customer advice for our Metos weather station systems, and help customers set up the Operations Center smartphone app and demonstrate its capabilities.”

Tuckwells John Deere dealer
Tuckwells is one of the UK’s longest established John Deere main dealers. The specialist 5G-series narrow tractors are available in working widths from just 1.25m, although most customers opt for the slightly wider 5GF orchard model for its extra stability making it a better option for working with larger sprayers. Andy Page says the latest flat-floor cab with large windows is proving popular with users

Great products and customer service

Andy said that the dealer’s customer base includes all types and sizes of fruit farm and vineyard from traditional family businesses to large multinational brands. “We offer the same great service to everyone, and our team’s ability to maximise machine uptime is a big attraction. Between our depots we hold considerable stocks of parts, including fast moving items for John Deere 5G-series tractors, Kramer handlers, and for Tehnos and Teyme machinery too.

“We grew the department organically, and our strategy of recruiting service team members through apprenticeships ensures they share our attitude to customer service and learn from those already experienced in this specialist industry. We have a stable and happy team who enjoy a great relationship with our customers.”

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