The Slieve Russell Hotel Golf and Country Club in scenic Ballyconnell, Co. Cavan was the setting for Agrigear’s 40th anniversary celebrations in early October.The company also celebrated its 25 year partnership with Indian tyre manufacturer BKT, John Loughran reports.
Agrigear, the tyre and wheel specialists hosted an afternoon conference and gala dinner, which was attended by close on 260 invited guests to celebrate its 40th anniversary. It was an afternoon and evening to remember!
While celebrating 40 years in business this year, the Agrigear story stretches back into the late 1970s when Fred Clarke was farming, growing grain, milling and contracting. While on holidays in Holland in the late 1970s, Fred identified a good opportunity to buy second-hand goods to export back to Ireland.
Coming from a farming / contracting background, Fred had a knowledge of farm machinery and importantly what would sell in Ireland. Starting out with used car wheels, this led on to second-hand agri tyres, rims and machinery. Fred travelled over to Holland and Germany on a regular basis to gather up suitable stock and ship it back to Ireland in containers. That was the start of the trade name, “As Good As New – Agrigear”.
“We realised it was easier to sell the tyres and rims than the machinery, so we sold off all of the machinery and concentrated on the tyres and rims from then on,” Fred recalled. This led to the formation of the company “Agrigear Ltd.”
As time went by, Fred secured a consignment of army surplus wheels. It was noticed that the wheel rims were US standard, and not compatible with European standards and equipment. This led to the start of an engineering workshop where centres were removed and then replaced with standard discs. This was the start of the company’s wheel rim manufacturing division.
Some 40 years later, Agrigear now has a state-of-the-art manufacturing plant and offers a unique wheel design and manufacturing service where tailor-made off-road wheels are custom-built to suit a customer’s specifications.
Fred added: “We also provide Original Equipment Manufacturers with ideal wheel configurations for their machines. Agrigear’s product portfolio of wheels is wide and diverse. Our company’s strength in technical expertise means that tailored solutions can be offered and bespoke products manufactured to suit individual customer requirements and technical specifications.”
Tractor, loader, earthmover and implement wheels can be custom-made to suit a customer’s machine to improve its functionality and performance; these wheels are available with a powder-coated paint finish in a wide variety of colours. In addition, a wheel can be altered to fit a different vehicle by machining or replacing the centre. Alternatively, by fitting the centre in a different position within the rim, the tramline of the vehicle can be altered to suit.
Agrigear also has a fine tradition for supplying off-the shelf wheel solutions and has partnered with Jantsa wheel rims since 1995, one of the largest European manufacturers of steel wheels for commercial, industrial, and agricultural machinery for many years.
Over the years the company’s tyre and wheel rim manufacturing divisions grew and flourished. However, in 1998 a new chapter began which ultimately saw Agrigear becoming one of the largest tyre wholesalers in Ireland.
That year Agrigear bought its first containers of BKT tyres. It was the start of a partnership that has endured through thick and thin for 25 years and is built on BKT supplying quality products serving Irish operators in the farming, industrial, mining, forestry, and construction sectors, backed up by Agrigear’s excellent service and after-sales support.
Balkrishna Industries Ltd. (BKT) is an India-based tyre manufacturer. The BKT group offers a large and always updated production range of Off-Highway tyres specially designed for vehicles in the agricultural, industrial, earthmoving, mining, ATV, and gardening sector.
BKT’s innovative solutions designed for the most differing user needs include more than 3,200 products sold in over 160 countries worldwide. Recently, BKT has further extended its offer by starting the production of rubber tracks.
Loyalty, trust, and cooperation are the values that are at the core of the partnership between BKT, the leading multinational Off-Highway tyre manufacturer, and Agrigear, one of Ireland’s largest tyre wholesalers operating across the entire country and the sole distributor of BKT products in Ireland.
It is a long-standing relationship rooted in the high quality of BKT tyres on the one hand and Agrigear’s excellent service and after-sales support on the other hand – two key factors that have ensured a superior product at a competitive price to Irish customers.
Backed by more than 40 years of industry expertise, Agrigear is the sole importer and distributor of BKT tyres in Ireland, providing operators with a comprehensive range of products that are designed to cater for a variety of needs and requirements, ranging from agricultural to industrial, construction, mining, and quarrying applications.
Over these 25 years of partnership, the two companies have forged a long-standing relationship, which has led to the development of new products that are tailored to the specific needs of the Irish market – a key aspect for the growth of the BKT brand in Ireland.
“We are very proud of the success that the BKT tyre range has enjoyed in Ireland, and are committed to strengthening it further year after year. This has been achieved thanks to the strong synergy between us and Agrigear, which has been in place for the past 25 years. This synergy is based on the successful combination of two winning elements: the high quality of our products and our devotion to innovation,” said Arvind Poddar, President and Managing Director of BKT.
“These two aspects, in concert with our ability to listen to the requests of the industry players and to strive for continuous improvement based on customer feedback, have allowed us to forge a fruitful relationship that is in line with our motto ‘Growing Together’.”
“Agrigear is very proud to be associated with BKT. Their technical support and the quality and reliability of their products is world class. Their vast range of products is a perfect fit for Agrigear’s ability to produce custom-made wheels for all applications and so provide wheel solutions for all our customers, whether end-users or OEMs,” says Fred Clarke, Managing Director of Agrigear.
Rajiv Poddar, Joint Managing Director, BKT said: “Ireland is a very important market for us and having a partner like Agrigear is very beneficial because of the feedback that they supply.”
Lucia Salmaso, Managing Director, BTK Europe continued: “They notice every change in the market in terms of technology and this is extremely important to us. The feedback we get from Agrigear can be applied in most European markets.”
Poddar added: “We take a collaborative approach to business. We have a quality product range and Agrigear has the local knowledge, so we work well together.
“It takes a long time to build a partnership and the success that you see now for Agrigear and BKT in Ireland has been built over many years. We will continue with our collaborative approach to build in to the future.”
Agrigear – The Future
Agrigear currently employs 70 people who have a wealth of experience and expertise. Rose Clarke, director of Agrigear affirmed: “The life blood of every company is it employees and without this commitment and dedication we would not be where we are today. We are very proud of Agrigear and the team of people supporting it every day.”
Speaking about the future plans of Agrigear, Fred acknowledged that “with over 40 years’ experience in wheel design and manufacturing and with the state of the art facilities we have in place, Agrigear is well placed to expand and grow into the future.
“The knowledge and experience built up in the workforce is a unique and invaluable asset to the company and ensures we can continue to provide wheel solutions for our customers going forward.
“Our ability to produce a high quality wheel for any application and provide a suitable tyre from the vast BKT range offers a one-stop-shop for our customers’ requirements.”
Rose reiterated these sentiments and added: “There is a bright future for Agrigear; we will continue to grow and offer quality products and expert advice to our customers and continue as a major employer in the local area supported by our experienced team of people.
“Our vision for the future is to continue the sustainable growth of the business, and be the leading supplier in Ireland for off-road tyres and wheels into the future.”
Fred concluded by thanking customers for their support over the years. As he reflected on the Agrigear journey so far, he summed up in saying: “We’ve had a very good 40 years, and here’s to another good 40 years going forward, we have a great team behind us.”