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An insight into GKB’s Distributors

An insight into GKB’s Distributors: GKB Machines, the company behind sustainable, reliable and robust maintenance machinery for natural, synthetic and hybrid turf recently caught up with one of their loyal UK distributors, Balmers GM Ltd.

UK Operations Director, Tom Shinkins has worked for GKB since GKB Machines Ltd was founded in 2015 and a key part of his role is to work with the UK distributors throughout the year. Andrew Meeks, Commercial Sales Manager at Balmers GM Ltd has been with the company for 20 years and has fallen in love with GKB machines.

An insight into GKB's Distributors

An insight into GKB’s Distributors

Offering some insight into what it’s like to be a GKB distributor, Tom discusses with Andrew why they decided to become a distributor, what their customer experience has been like and ultimately what their favourite machine is!

What do you like about GKB Machines?

To put it simply, their build. We like the fact that these machines are built by contractors for use by like-minded people. Built robustly and to last, simple and easy to operate. The machines that we use are so reliable, we trust that they will get the job done everytime. Our ethos here at Balmers is perfectly matched with GKB’s. We want to supply our customers the best machines for use and reliability, as well as getting the support from the manufacturer which GKB offer exactly that. The question should be what do I not like about GKB Machines because then I would struggle to answer!

What do your customers like?

Our customers’ minds work like ours so, what we like, they tend to like too. They like the fact we are providing them with the best machines that they can rely on time after time.

How long have you been a dealer for?

We’ve been a dealer for nearly three years but knew about the products way before that. The way GKB keep bringing out new innovations and technologies to make their machines even better really excites us. We look forward to working with GKB for many years to come.

What is your favourite GKB Machines and why?

Now this is a difficult question! It’s almost like asking who’s your favourite child.  I love the SP100 Topdresser, it’s the machine that started our relations and outperforms the competition hands down. The GKB Combiseeder is also high on the list again for its ease of use, its simplicity and ultimately its performance and result.

Why did you become a dealer?

We became a dealer because we were looking for a mounted topdresser to supply our customer base with that fitted the John Deere ProGatorTM. We had supplied other manufacturers previously and were not happy with various things. We wanted a product with a direct line to the manufacturer rather than via the importer, simply to reduce the supply chain and improve communication. As we deal directly with the manufacturer now we’re able to provide customer feedback right to the people who built the product. On a typical wet and windy English weather day, Tom brought a demonstrator for us to try and we were blown away by its performance. The product range suited our portfolio and the rest is history.

What’s your customer experience like from GKB?

If I had to use one word it would be fantastic. Tom has been invaluable, providing a vast wealth of knowledge and support. We also spent time with the guys over in the factory in Holland, which really helped to build relationships. Ultimately for us, it’s a company and a product range that’s growing which we thrive on. They are constantly innovating without creating solutions to problems that aren’t there. For that, we thank GKB.

For more on GKB Machines and their reliable and robust range of machinery for natural, hybrid and synthetic turf and to learn more about becoming a GKB distributor, please visit www.gkbmachines.com or contact Tom Shinkins on 07495 883617.

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An insight into Agrovista Amenity

An insight into Agrovista Amenity: “My hope for Agrovista Amenity is that the industry welcomes what it’s trying to be – a science-based company offering real solutions to customers and adding value wherever possible.”

John Marland has been integral in the development of the newly formed Agrovista Amenity. With more than 25 years’ experience in the industry, John claims that the launch of the new company is his proudest moment yet.

An insight into Agrovista Amenity

An insight into Agrovista Amenity

In this exclusive Q&A, John explains what Agrovista Amenity truly represents and why the industry should start getting excited.

Q: Now Agrovista Amenity has officially launched, how do you think it’s going so far?

JM: We’re right in the depths of integration now, and that always presents a challenge, but it’s going as well as we expected. There’s a great team within the Agrovista business, and this isn’t the first integration project that they’ve worked on – they’re well versed in integrating businesses into our internal system.

We’ve had a fantastic reception from both customers and suppliers – people really understand why we did it and what we are trying to do. It’s not about buying another business, it’s about finding the right business that helps you to create what you’re trying to achieve in the industry – a business that can service all the marketplace whether it’s online, by telephone or by face-to-face.

Q: What does the new organisation look like?

JM: As you can imagine, there were two existing structures that needed to come together, and we’ve certainly made progress. It may well be early days, but the thing that excites me is that we have a national sales team that rivals any in the market. As we start to turn the strategy into reality there will be a whole new level of customer support, whether that be internet support, field sales or telephone support.

Q: What does this mean for customers?

JM: Customers come first and that’s the primary motivation – not just for Agrovista Amenity, but for Agrovista as a whole.

There’s no need for us to radically hike prices just because two businesses have come together – that’s not a consequence or a motivation. The industry regulates the industry and we are part of that. We hope that our uplift, if you like, will be increased by efficiencies and bigger critical mass. We’re not expecting the customer to finance us – it will just be a case of being better at what we do.

Q: What are your hopes for the Agrovista Amenity business and in turn, your role?

JM: My hope for Agrovista Amenity is that the industry welcomes what it’s trying to be – a science-based company offering real solutions to customers and adding value wherever possible. Inevitably there will be changes within my role, but I just want to see this group of people maximise their potential and help them to become all they can be.

An insight into Agrovista Amenity

An insight into Agrovista Amenity

Q: What do you think are the current industry challenges?

JM: It’s a lack of solutions for challenges. I think soil-borne pests are becoming a real issue. We’re really starting to witness the effects of a lack of chemistry and an expediential rise in issues caused by the likes of leatherjackets and chafer grubs.

Also, I think we still face the same challenges that arise due to a lack of investment in green spaces, or government provided green spaces. I would love to see this market come together and try and approach government to increase standards in local-level sports facilities. I have coached youth football for nearly ten years now, and I’ve seen that although people work hard, the standards just aren’t good enough because there isn’t enough money there.

I think that we need to work harder as an industry to raise our profile and the value of what we do. However, as I sit here today, the weather is top of the agenda. I’m very conscious that the greenkeepers and the grounds people of the industry are adept at facing challenges from weather, but the constant wetness is becoming unbearable.

Q: Do you see any potential growth areas?

JM: I think there needs to be an acknowledgement of the fact that amenity has a lot of markets within it, and we see fit to grow in all of them because we just need to be better than everybody else out there.

Q: Is the development of Agrovista Amenity a career highlight?

JM: I’ve been in the industry for more than 25 years but seeing Agrovista Amenity launch to the team and the market must be one of my biggest career highlights. This is because of the size, scale and magnitude of the business that we now have.

Also, in terms of highlights, I take huge pleasure in seeing how far some of the younger members of the team have progressed. Seeing people succeed within the business that we have is really a highlight. I don’t think you can take too much value in personal achievement. It’s more about what we have achieved collectively over the time we have been in the marketplace.

For more information, visit www.agrovista.co.uk

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Insight into the Emirates

Insight into the Emirates: In conjunction with DLF Seeds, over 40 Grounds Professionals from schools, colleges and sports clubs across the country were recently invited to a behind-the-scenes tour of Arsenal FC’s Emirates Stadium.

Visitors gained an insight into the grounds programme that keeps the surfaces performing at elite levels, and how new technologies are playing an ever-increasing role in monitoring and maintaining these professional standards.

Insight into the Emirates

Head Groundsman Alan Russell, assisted by Deputy Lee Blythe and Assistant Jack Bayford, led the day which included a pitch walk, a tour of the machinery workshop, as well as a look around some of the off-pitch highlights including the Home Dressing Room and Managers Office. The Arsenal Grounds Team took questions throughout the day, with DLF Technical Manager David Rhodes and Regional Support Manager Craig Spooner on hand to provide advice on the topics of turf and seed.

Daniel Negus, Head Groundsman at Devonshire Park Tennis Club, was one of those in attendance. He said, “The day was a fantastic opportunity to see how one of the leading Premier League stadiums operates both on, and off, the pitch. It was hugely beneficial to hear the first-hand experiences of Alan and his team, meaning we all came away with an understanding of the knowledge and practices that they employ.”

Craig added, “The dedication, professionalism and knowledge of the Emirates grounds team is a real credit to the Club. A big thank you must go to Paul Ashcroft, Grounds Manager at the Emirates Stadium and Hale End Academy for hosting us and making it such a successful and informative day for all of those that attended.”

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An insight into Yokohama Stadium

An insight into Yokohama Stadium: What an exciting tournament it has been so far! With just over a week until the final, let’s look into the incredible stadium where the final is taking place – International Stadium Yokohama.

The Rugby World Cup Final 2019 will be held in the International Stadium Yokohama, with the finalists still to be confirmed after this weekend’s semi-finals. This remarkable venue has a bespoke Bolt-Down Bottom Hinge System which is similar to that designed for the “Sliding Pitch” in the Sapporo Dome. Harrod Sport’s Design Team worked closely with our Japanese distributor; Kofu Field Co. Ltd to create these innovative designs ready for the tournament.

An insight into Yokohama Stadium

The biggest challenge encountered in the Yokohama Stadium was that there had previously been a smaller set of rugby posts in place. So, we had to develop something that could be installed over the original sockets, but with the added complication of needing to increase the foundation strength to cater for the greater forces imposed by the 17m tall posts. This was overcome by designing the Bolt-down Hinge Assembly installed with 6 of M20 Stainless Steel Indented Foundation Bolts at each upright.

Also, our unique Winched Rugby Lifters were used at all World Cup venues to ensure that the 17m posts could be erected without the use of any powered vehicles or lifting system.

These posts had to satisfy earthquake requirements. In Japan, it is stated in the Building Standards Act that when you want to install any permanent or non-permanent architectural buildings/objects that exceeds the height of 15m, the owner needs to submit the building certification to the government and that includes tiresome data of the installation site and structure calculation data, CAD drawings (with detail materials and dimensions stated) of the installed building/object.

An insight into Yokohama Stadium

If we had not provided the adequate information and drawings, we would have not been allowed to install 17m rugby posts in Japan. Also, all drawings and structural analysis documentation needed to be interpreted into Japanese for approval by the Japanese Government!

Innovation is at the forefront of what we do at Harrod Sport, and we are privileged to have worked on such a historic and thoroughly entertaining tournament.

For further information please contact Molly Spring (Sales & Marketing Coordinator) on molly@harrod.uk.com or 01502 583515.

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