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Full steam ahead

Full steam ahead: Iseki UK was launched in 2017 into a rocky economic environment but with exactly the right man steering the ship. Two years on David Withers has proven his worth as a “Captain” and the company, now based in Ipswich, is making steady progress. 

“We are up on last year which is pretty good,” said David, in answer to the most obvious of opening questions – “How are you doing?”

Full steam ahead

“We are going to sell more this year and make less money and the reason for that has been the collapse in the value of the pound.

That’s even more of a problem for a company which brings in all of its goods from Germany and France – 80% Germany and 20% France,” revealed David, who returned to the UK following his time in the States as President and CEO of Jacobsen.

“The economy is not in great shape and causing a lot of uncertainty but the biggest single impact for us is that exchange rate.”

To highlight the point he added that the pound had devalued by 13% in the previous two months and that Iseki had recently been forced to increase its own prices by 3% to 5%.

“We are going to see inflationary pressures coming in and I don’t think that the economy is going to be strong enough for wages to keep up with inflation.”

Like so many other companies Iseki were prepared for the original Brexit timetable of March 31 and had brought in sufficient parts stock to ensure no issues over that period.

“Then it didn’t happen so, having had a good quarter one, when we were doing a lot to prepare, there was a hangover in quarter two and from April things never really got going.

Now we have prepared again and we are once more full of inventory,” said David, speaking a few weeks before the more recent October 31 Brexit date.

The company has secured additional warehouse space, through a relationship with one of the transport companies on the Ipswich Europark with which they share a postcode to cope over the period.

Any issue of delays at ports is not of huge concern to David, given the nature of the Iseki business.

“If our deliveries take an extra week to get through, it will be irritating but it’s not life-threatening,” was his pragmatic view.

As to the wider issue of ensuring the Iseki brand is available the length and breadth of the country the company is making real progress in bolstering its dealer network.

“What has really worked for us is that we have clarified in our minds what our distribution strategy should be. We find that for many of our dealers we are either the simplest and easiest product a dealer sells – because they also deal with combine harvesters or 500 horsepower tractors and forestry harvesters – and we are the lowest value product they sell.

“Conversely, for other dealers, we are at the upper end of their portfolio. They might be selling products like Mountfield, Honda and Stiga, but don’t have a diesel product other than ours. In these cases we are the most complicated product they sell.”

Many dealers, often classic garden dealers, have been asked if they would like to have a diesel offering in their portfolio.

“We are up to about 16 new dealers but we still have some gaps and we have space for another 30 or so.”

Having spent most of his more recent life at the top end of business life – prior to his time at Jacobsen he was Managing Director of Ransomes Jacobsen, based just down the road from his new home on that Ipswich Europark – he is enjoying building a new business from the beginning.

“I enjoy the closeness with the market, the customers and our staff whereas before there were layers between me and the other people.

That’s fun. But there are plusses and minuses. I find booking my own travel intensely irritating, as I’d never had to do that before,” he said with a smile.

Another area of potential expansion for the company may come on the back of that new dealer network.

“I look forward to the business growing and having more resource and ability to do things. For example one of the things you might see us doing over the next 12 months is bolt on additional products to our range.

“We have had a lot of people asking us if we could distribute for them. I didn’t want to do that to begin with as It was important to get Iseki moving, but now that we have all the infrastructure in place and our polices and procedures are in order we will look at it.

“It would be products of similar standard and reliability and that which are complementary to our own products.”

All forward thinking moves and proving once again that, when the seas become rough and the waves are high, having a capable Captain is so important.

JCB Diggers In Full Production

JCB Diggers In Full Production: JCB has made manufacturing history by going into full production with the construction industry’s first fully electric mini excavator – with more than 50 machines already delivered.

The 19C-1E models – JCB’s first-ever electric diggers – are now coming off the assembly line at JCB Compact Products in Cheadle, Staffordshire, with orders rolling in from customers from across Europe and North America.

JCB Diggers In Full Production

The machine is a staggering five times quieter than its diesel counterpart and can be fully charged in under two hours. The model is expected to be a big hit with companies working inside buildings and in emissions and noise-sensitive inner-city areas. Fully charged, the 19C-1E can put in a typical full day’s shift for a mini excavator.

The 19C-1E will also offer customers great cost-of-ownership benefits, with research highlighting that over the first five years, charging costs will be 50 per cent cheaper for customers who would otherwise be using red diesel. Servicing costs are also expected to be up to 70 per cent lower compared to the diesel model.

JCB Chief Innovation Officer Tim Burnhope said: “In urban environments in particular, contractors are understandably very keen to operate zero emissions equipment whenever possible, including outdoors. I’m delighted that the model is now in full production after successful feedback from customers in many key markets during the evaluation stage.”

JCB Compact Products’ MD Robert Winter said: “This is a historic moment for JCB and for JCB Compact Products. We are delighted to go into full production with the industry’s first fully electric mini excavator. The machine has a very promising future ahead of it.”

Using leading automotive battery technology, the zero emissions and low noise 19C-1E delivers all of the performance of a conventional diesel-powered 1.9-tonne mini excavator. The machine comes with JCB’s LiveLink telematics as standard.

The machine is perfect for working indoors or outdoors, in factories, tunnels or basements, for digging foundations, or on utility projects.

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Woods Charlerois Plant Reaches Full Production

Woods Charlerois Plant Reaches Full Production: Woods Equipment have confirmed their custom built spares and assembly plant in Charlerois, Belgium, is now offering the company’s full product range, with most products available either ex stock or within three weeks. Simon Richard the UK Agent for the Woods rotary cutter range says, “huge progress has been made since assembly began in January 2018 and this announcement confirms the Woods commitment to offering optimum service to UK and European Agriculture and Groundcare markets.

Since taking on the Woods range in early 2017 we have been amazed by the number of extremely old but still fully functioning machines we have become aware of. Machines like Batwings at 18 years old and single Rotor machines at 20 years. We have even come across a triple Finishing Mower at 30 years of age.  We are now asking owners to send us a picture of their machine at work, the serial number and their name and address. The owner of the oldest working machine will win a Woods 20 ton log splitter.

Woods Charlerois Plant Reaches Full Production

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