We are in the process of beginning the restoration of our Massey Harris collection here in Beauvais, France. In doing so, we realise that we know much more about our Ferguson heritage models than our red and yellow forefathers.
We have four tractors here in the collection. One is an M-H Pony built in France so we know a bit about it, then we have a four wheel drive general purpose M-H tractor, again, we know its history.
We are interested to find out more about the two standard M-H tractors, dated around 1945 / 1950. Where were they made? How did they end up in France? What engines did they use etc… of course any details about these actual models would be greatly appreciated!
One of them is of special historical significance because it was the first Marshall Plan tractor supplied to France, as part of the US sponsored economic reconstruction plan for post war Europe, torn apart by the ravages of six years of invasion, counter invasion and bombardment.
If anyone can shed any light on this one, we are very keen to hear about it…
Well it has come to the final day and we are down south in yet another Korbanek Agrocentre. This one is run by two twins, Marek and Darek, who conveniently split the responsibilities of Sales and Aftersales between themselves. There are 15 mechanics here with specialists for the different Massey Ferguson products available to provide good technical back-up locally. There is also a team of Salesmen and Parts specialists plus administrative support.
The format by now is well rehearsed and the event swings into action with another good crowd of farmers eager to see the machines in the field.
Our tour has taken us over 1000 Km around Poland and we have met over 1000 farmers, some new to MF, some who have been customers for many, many years.
I would like to thank the Korbanek team for their support this week and especially Marek and Pawel, the MF Product specialists but it would be unfair not to mention the whole team effort.
In addition, the MF team who supported the event.. Frédéric Moreau, Arnaud Guilbert, Jean Baptiste Gautier and Hannah Hayward plus our MF support vehicle driver Gary Foster, who faces a 30 hour drive back home with the pickup and trailer !
The Roadshow was designed as a “warm-up” for the annual Machinery fair in Posnan in 2 weeks time and we would be pleased to see as many farmers as possible there to see again the full Massey Ferguson product line up.
To anyone who has been following these events with us, many thanks and see you again soon!
We roll into another of Korbanek’s impressive Agrocentres, this time franchised to a charming couple who are clearly actively promoting Massey Ferguson and modern technology to the farmers in this region in the North of Poland.
The field selected for the demonstration is directly in front of the Agrocentre and it rolls away into the distance in a downwards direction. Absolutely perfect for this kind of event.
As we head for the large marquee for the opening presentations, it is lightly raining and we discover that it is already jam packed full of eager farmers, waiting for the event to begin. After attentively listening to the opening speeches, they stampede towards the demo tractors to try them out for themselves!
There is already here a basis of a customer base for Massey Ferguson. I talk to one gentleman who has an MF 8220, purchased 9 years ago and having completed over 4000 hours on his farm. Having established that he is happy with his purchase, I ask what he likes most about the tractor… a simple reply “performance HIGH, fuel consumption LOW” presented with accompanying gestures and hand signals!
There are over 1 million farmers in Poland but many are farming in a small way. The number of full time “professional” farmers is reckoned to be around 100, 000 and from this number; less than half will be in the market for a “western type” tractor. Nevertheless, that means that around 10, 000 “western type” tractors are sold here every year and as such, all the well known machinery brands are here in one way or another.
Fuel economy seems to be a general requirement of most farmers here and I am pleased to see that both our Tractors and Combines have already achieved this reputation wherever we go, after that the farmers do want to have the latest technology and of course they like to have a brand that is well recognised with a good reputation.
The drive to the next location takes us from north to south, only around 200 miles but a good six hours. Again, we see road constructions everywhere. We have fun spotting other dealerships and debating whether some of the perfectly straight crops we see planted have used satellite guidance or not.
When we arrive at the Hotel, a group of salesmen are waiting for us. We did a big training job here in April, so they are already well known to us and it is good to see their enthusiasm is unabated.
Mr. and Mrs. Korbanek have travelled with us all week and they are highly respected wherever they go. They always give us an update on the region that we are arriving into and explain to us the structure of the farms and any special requirements of the farmers here, but the mission is always clear… full speed ahead with developing the business. They have a very good CRM system so have a very close relationship with their customers which they are naturally keen to nurture and maintain.
From observations so far, they are being successful…
Have you seen our group at all on the Poland SUPER DNA tour?
A rainy day. However the advantage of assembling a large marquee at each location with a wooden floor comes into its own. And we have a captive audience for watching the Product Show! Every Korbanek branch has a large area of concrete so we also take the opportunity to show the MF 8690 with Topcon autoguidance driving around the yard. The result is impressive as the leviathan machine automatically follows its pre-determined route in a circular pattern around the large yard. We are also fortunate to have a very well informed lady representing Topcon who can explain everything about the system. I am also told that the person installing the technology on the tractors is also a lady and they appear to make an excellent team.
Polish agriculture appears to be moving in an interesting direction. In the past there were huge state farms and very, very small farms. A large state farm could be in the region of 20 000 Ha. Now there is a new category of farm arriving which spans from 50 – 1500 Ha and these are the farms who are investing in new machinery – both Tractors and Combines.
Our “pedal tractor winner” today is a good example. He runs an MF 8280 as his main tractor on a 1200 Ha farm but is in now in the process of splitting the farm amongst his family. It is almost the reverse process that we see in some strictly Western European countries where farm size is consolidating upwards.
As we travel cross country to the next location, the landscape is a picture of productivity as we see large factory type pig units with big equipment spreading slurry interspersed with a plethora of little farms with their 50 – 80 HP tractors ploughing away in fine contentment.
Whenever we pass a Massey Ferguson working in the field, our convoy opens up with a blast on the horn from each vehicle, just to let them know we are here! In many places, there are major road constructions taking place to provide highways to link up the main cities in Poland, but in the meantime, it is interesting to use these roads that allow us to really see what is happening in the fields.
Interest for our products is proving to be high amongst the farmers who are gathering and there is a cavalcade to test them out when we go to the field. In a country like Poland which is in a transitional stage from older traditional methods to using new technology, it is a distinct advantage to have machines which are easy to use, but which can be loaded up with as much technology as the customer needs and wants. Our tractor transmissions are a prime example where we can go from the basic Dyna 4 with its 16 x 16 gears and a simple pedal change on the move all the way to a full CVT with Dyna VT.
There is a lot of hard work ahead, but Poland, Polish agriculture and Massey Ferguson in Poland are all heading in the same positive direction.
Today we were at the second of Korbanek’s Agrocentres in the North of Poland and received an even larger crowd of farmers than at yesterday’s event in Posnan. Field demonstrations are less common in this region of Poland and so many farmers took the opportunity to come and see with their own eyes what we had to offer and to try out potential purchases for themselves.
The Agrocentre is almost new and has every facility required to support sales, parts and service for the MF range including a very well stocked parts warehouse.
In a rather more sobering moment, we spent a moment at the War Memorial which forms part of the site which commemorates an infamous atrocity committed towards the end of World War 2. It is somehow fitting to know that this site is now being used to help Polish farmers increase food production and that those days are well in the past.
Our visitors today included a large consignment of students from the local Agricultural College who eagerly pounced on the free posters available. By far the most popular were those of Massey Ferguson Combine harvesters which rather surprised us as the area is much more mixed farming.
One thing is for certain, the farmers here certainly know how to try out and test tractors, with various depths of ploughing being tried and various performance trials taking place in the working area. All of the demo tractors appear to be equally popular but it is the 80 – 150 HP machines that farmers are mainly asking for firm price quotations on. Although we are not running MF 3600 in the field, these nimble machines are on display in the Agrocentre and form part of the initial product presentation together with MF Combines and Balers.
We finished up the demo in a very good mood as our MF pedal tractor was won by a Grandfather who had brought his two grandsons with him, aged around 3 and 4 and their faces were a picture of delight as they scooped up their prize!
We weren’t smiling quite so much when our GPS systems told us that the move to the next location, 120 miles away would take us over 4 hours, mainly because there are a limited number of fast roads in this part of the world. However we soon cheered up as we watched the many MF tractors en route including a particularly nice MF 6245 ploughing away in a field next to the road and various MF Combines still working in what looked to be a crop like Soybeans. With so many farms now using minimum tillage systems, it was very interesting to note that the plough is very much alive and well here and still seems to be the main tool used in cultivation.
History and heritage seem to be very important here and each night, so far, we have heated discussions about who actually invented the Combine Harvester (self propelled ). We know it of course to be Massey Harris in 1938 and the legendary Tom Carroll but another well known Harvesting brand in these parts is making claims that they were indeed the first. Not the most important issue facing the world but in honour and with respect of our forefathers in the company, we will without any question prevail and win the “argument”. I will be pleased to receive any additional information on this subject from anyone who could advise why another Company may feel justified in making this erroneous assertion?