An award-winning New Holland family dealership in Millstreet, County Cork, celebrated its 60th brand anniversary with an open weekend and celebration night.
Although it launched in the 1940s, Colemans Millstreet Ltd first opened its doors as a Ford Tractor outlet in 1954 when work horses were still a common sight on the farms around Ireland.
It is now flying the flag for New Holland’s state-of-the-art technology and to mark its diamond year, special open days were held recently, attracting up to 500 visitors.
New Holland representatives from the UK joined the celebrations, including the Managing Director of the Basildon factory plant Andrew Watson, and General Sales Manager James Doyle.
As well as food and drink, there were historic tractors on display including the Fordson Major and Fordson Dexta, plus field tests comparing some of the latest modern ranges – the T4, T5, T6 and T7 – with their predecessors.
Customers also surveyed the successor to the ever popular New Holland T5050 tractor: the New Holland T4.105, which was on display.
Colemans Millstreet Ltd was set up by three brothers, Jerh, Paddy and Tim Coleman. Sixty years on and Paddy’s son, John Coleman, now runs the dealership alongside his wife, Mary, and their children, Patrick, Linda, Marie and Emma.
The business in Minor Row has served generations of the same farming families and provides jobs for 15 people, including a Kia car franchise plus an additional 20 people in their Centra Forecourt Store. It has gone from strength to strength and won New Holland Irish Dealer of the Year in 2013.
John, who first started work there in 1969, said: “We were thrilled at the turnout. We met customers that we haven’t seen for years and years. We had a lot of interest in the product and there was a great buzz around the place.”
One notable returning customer was John Fleming, from Nursetown, Dromahane, Mallow, Co. Cork, who revealed he still had the tractor he bought new from Sales Manager Ben O Connor at Colemans in December 1973 – and he had the receipt and original tax book to prove it! He still works the Ford 3000 on the land.
John added: “We have always strived to give one hell of a back-up service to the products we sell. We pride ourselves that if we can’t get to a farmer today, we certainly will tomorrow.
“When farmers look at what to buy that’s one of three things they consider: value, quality and service. They look at the whole package and that’s precisely what we’ve always tried to give them.”
Memorable moments for John include the day in 1984 when Colemans Millstreet Ltd sold its 2,000th tractor. It has since gone on to sell 3,300 new units for the brand.
The backbone of the team ever since he joined in 1973 has been Tractor Sales Manager Ben O'Connor, said John, along with the outstanding aftersales team.
“It’s Ben’s dedication and expertise that has been instrumental in building our tractor business to what it is today,” John explained. “Being a farmer himself and coming from a farming background, he knows exactly what the farmer needs.”
Each sale is still recorded in Colemans on traditional record books dating back to 1959 which farmers regularly consult to find out when their parents and even grandparents purchased tractors from Colemans.
John added: “After 60 years we’re just very pleased to still be around. But the thing that has always stood out in my mind is how extraordinary farmers are. They can withstand devastating weather and then when the sun comes out they are ready to start again.”
New Holland’s Area Sales Manager for the Republic of Ireland, Liam Hayde, said: “John is a very community-minded kind of guy; he does a great job and has been continuously showing an amazing commitment to our brand and his customers throughout the decades.”