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By IH Wednesday 17 October 2012 Updated: 23/10 09:27
LIFE on the farm has proved rewarding for twins Jack and Bay Watson.
The 24 year-olds agricultural entrepreneurs have just been nationally recognised after scooping the Farmers Weekly Contractor of the Year 2012 award.
In just six years of trading, Jack and Bay have built up a profitable, well-managed farm contracting business with a growing base of satisfied customers.
And the judges were also impressed by the pair’s sharp eye on costs, ambitious plans for the future and unrelenting drive to succeed.
After their father John passed away in 2006, Jack and Bay, aged just 17 at the time, decided they would continue running the small contacting business he had set up at Morton Bagot near Henley.
Starting with one tractor and an ageing baler and wrapper, it was a difficult beginning.
Bay said: “We had to just sit tight and weather the storm. That kit was the making of us, but it was nearly the end of us.
But since then they have built up a profitable business that has the potential to keep growing.
They are running a fleet of modern equipment, operating from an impressive yard and have more than 100 loyal customers.
Bay added: “We never poach work and we’re not the cheapest, but we pick up new clients every year because of it.
"We always arrive on time and do the job to the highest possible standard.”
Another of the brothers’ greatest business attributes is their keen eye on costs.
“Every January we sit down and look out how much each of our services is making,” explained Jack.
"This exercise takes account of depreciation, labour, repairs and maintenance, fuel, and sundries such as baler string.
For example, we used to do a lot of round baling, but we just couldn’t get the figures to stack up."
By carefully managing the growth of their business, Jack and Bay have also managed to limit risk and avoid getting into financial difficulty. Larger machines are purchased on finance, but smaller items are bought outright to avoid the business having too many financial commitments.
They also refuse to invest in equipment if they cannot see a clear profit.
“We’ve already been approached to contract-farm a small amount of ground, but we’re not geared up for it yet and the amount of land doesn’t warrant their investment,” added Jack.
But as the business grows and they have more equipment they hope to be able to justify taking on such contracts.
“We are in it for the long haul and excited about growing the business,” said Jack. “We’re always looking for opportunities to increase turnover and profit, but never at the expense of providing a good service.”
Jack and Bay also realise the importance of working closely with the local community. They support the Pony Club and Point to Point, either through sponsorship or helping with events. Bay is the youngest member of the local Young Farmers club committee and Jack is the treasurer.
The twins also recognise the importance of proper training and have teamed-up with the local agricultural training group to run safety courses in their yard.
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