Gethings Contractors Ltd has quite a substantial history dating back to the late sixties when Ken Gethings first opened the business. Upon his return from England, Ken and his brother-in-law equipped themselves with a small amount of machinery and decided to start contracting for local farmers in the area.
The business continued to grow and in 2000, Ken passed the main directorship to his son Alan Gethings. Ken stepped back from the business to concentrate on managing his beef and tillage farm full-time.
Gethings Contractors Ltd is very much a family trade as Alan’s two nephews - Neville and Colin- also work in the company. His daughters - Ruby and Bella - have yet to show an interest in contracting; however, at the ages of just eleven and nine, there is still time.
“My first memories were sweeping up the shed at four or five years old and I’ve never really stopped since then,” laughed Alan, who admits that he may have first driven a tractor at the age of nine.
Alan concedes that everything was simpler then and that he certainly would not entertain that idea with his own family.
Ever the entrepreneurs, Alan’s brother David, owned his own haulage business a couple of years ago but has since returned to working with Alan and the contracting company.
Alan and his father have relied on JF harvesters since the seventies and Alan believes that they are the most cost-effective way of harvesting silage. The contracting business main focus is providing silage, tillage and slurry services.
Alan served his time training as a mechanic when he was younger and the skills he acquired allowed him to perform in-house repairs for his machinery. Word spread and Alan began to repair machinery for other people.
Never one to shy away from a challenge, Alan began to store JF parts and soon decided to branch out into another area of business, opening a parts shop, selling parts and selling JF harvesters.
He has decided to open the business to other agencies and sell their machines in his dealership. This is a new arm to the business, and it has been set up as the JF Centre Tullamore, now providing Cross machinery and Twose Hedgecutters.
Alan still prefers to lead with the contracting side as he said that contracting was all he was ever going to do. “This is all I’ve ever dreamt of doing and I still do,” said Alan.
In terms of time management, silage comes first when it’s time to cut. “The JF Centre goes kind of quiet when we’re at silage,” explained Alan, “We just dig in and get it done,” he added.
This doesn’t mean that all work at the JF Centre get’s abandoned, it simply means that the parts and repairs shop have to operate very early in the morning or late at night.
With all of Alan’s customers being farmers, he is grateful that they understand the occasional, unusual hours.
Alan is also a very conscientious person, with safety being of paramount importance to his business. “One thing that I’m very insistent on is that I will not work in the dark,” he said.
Alan maintained that getting up at half-past five in the morning to do a job is no problem, but that there are a number of safety concerns where there is no compromise. “After nightfall is the most dangerous time to work for tractors and trailers, no matter how well-lit you are,” he explained.
With thirty years in the business, he knows that other road users may not be expecting to meet machinery quite as big or slow-moving on the road. “It’s down to vigilance, looking around, standing back, seeing what you’re doing,” said the attentive business owner.
Taking the lead from his father Ken, Alan will make sure to drive to any farm that he is not familiar with and examine the conditions. He will check for potential hazards and mark the places that may need bollards.
Even with the expansion of his enterprise, Alan says that his favourite thing to do is to sow corn. “I love seeing the crops afterwards and seeing how they grow and seeing if they’ve improved” smiled Alan, who enjoys the stress-free experience of a one-man job.
Gethings Contractor’s Ltd has a fleet of Case tractors, two are CVX - 1195 and 1155. Another two are Steyr CS’s 130, 150 and Alan has a Massey Ferguson 390 with a hedge-cutter.
The future looks strong for both Gethings Contractors and the JF Centre Tullamore. Alan has the help of his staff members, including the foreman Evan Gill and many of his family, but Alan is keen to acknowledge his wife Lisa, who works as a nurse. “Without her, this wouldn’t have happened,” he said.
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