Farming and agriculture is a way of life for many and that is certainly the case for two Armagh men who took a leap of faith and launched their own contracting business last year.
After a successful first 12 months, the duo have invested in a bid to prove their business plan isn’t just a blow in the wind venture.
MJ Contracts began in earnest in 2019; set up by close friends Mark Curry and James McGurgan.
Friends from their school days, Mark and James both hail from a farming background and they have always had an interest in agriculture and machinery.
Through the years the pair worked for multiple contractors, but always had a dream to go out on their own.
And that dream turned into a reality last year.
Speaking to Armagh I, Mark said it was an itch the pair always wanted to scratch.
“The biggest step was the financial part of it; I mean an agricultural plant does come at a cost,” he said.
“We really had to sit down to come up with a plan; we did not want this to be a one year wonder, that’s why last year we started with the trailed harvester.”
Following a successful first season, they wanted to continue their growth and did so by heavily investing and updating the plant by acquiring more equipment.
Mark continued: “We had a trailed harvester last year, but then we saw that if we wanted to stay in business we would have to go bigger.
“So we then went on to invest in a self-propelled harvester and bigger shovels; this was also to show our customers that we are committed.”
Going from a trailed harvester to a self-propelled is a “serious jump” explained James, which would involve a lot of money.
“We don’t want to be seen as a company that is going to come in for a few years and then take off into the wind, never to be heard of again,” said James.
“We don’t mind slowly progressing and building over the years, having customers that we are loyal to and them in return coming back to us every year.”
Business has been going well for the trio and that is down to, in no small part, to the repeat custom from a job well done last year. For MJ Contracts, customer loyalty, coupled with their own hard work, is where the business will thrive.
For Mark and James, their aim is to leave every customer that they deal with happy with the job they have carried out. For them, word of mouth is just as important as anything.
“We know there are contractors out there doing the same work we do,” admitted Mark. “We are not looking it all but we know the hardship, the anxiety and stress when it comes to silage season with all the farmers wanting their grass in at the same time.
“We would see ourselves as being there to ease the burden, to help out and ensure that everything goes that bit smoother.”
The upgrade of the harvester means that the company is now able to cut up to 120 acres a day, as opposed to just 25 to 30 with their previous machinery, but that will not affect the service.
James added: “We have gone to farmers with only 10 acres of grass to lift and others with 80 or 90 acres to lift, there is no difference between the two and they are both treated the same.”
MJ Contracts can usually operate anywhere within a 30 to 40 mile radius of Armagh and have completed jobs as far afield as the Monaghan and Meath border.
From cutting to lifting, to buckraking and any other job in the preparation of silage, MJ Contracts will have you covered.
Although silage is the core of the business, they also provide services which include, spreading slurry and hedge cutting.
To find out more you can check out their Facebook page.