Wilson Machinery

Richard Wilson grew up on a family farm at Kilrush outside Ballinamore and as a youngster was always fascinated with big machinery. He loved tinkering with the equipment and it came as no surprise when he finished his education that Richard started working as a field service engineer with one of the largest farm machinery importers in Ireland, Dublin-based Farmhand Limited.

But the pull back to Leitrim was strong, as was the desire to continue working in a sector which has to keep up with changing technologies, environmental concerns and the more sophisticated needs of today’s agricultural sector.

 Six years ago Richard founded Wilson Machinery adjacent to the dairy farm where he grew up.  

Richard Wilson 2

 “We do everything from top of the range tractors to balers, mowers, rakes, slurry equipment and feeding equipment”, he explained.  According to Richard a farmer investing in a brand new high-powered tractor “won’t get much change out of €100,000” but he caters for all budgets and also imports used tractors from the UK.  Having a workshop, spare parts shop and an engineering and light fabrication department has all help to expand the customer base.

He says one of the best moves he made was getting in touch with the Leitrim Local Enterprise Office (LEO) before he got started.

“The first thing they did for us was provide mentoring support, they matched us up with a mentor who was a perfect fit for us and advised us on all aspects of the business, helping to complete a business plan so we had something to go to the banks with when we were looking for funding”.

 Richard also attended two separate Start Your Own Business courses run by the LEO. “It’s not just about selling machinery — you have to know how to run the business as well and we learned how to manage an office, keep the books, and deal with Revenue,” he explained. “There could be eight or 10 people in totally different businesses on one course but we were all in the same boat”.

Winning the Leitrim final of the Irish Best Young Entrepreneur Programme twice was also a big boost. In 2014 Wilson Machinery won the Best Start-up Businesses section and in 2017 the company took the Best Established Business award.  

“We got mentoring support and cash prizes of €20,000 and €15,000 and that really put us out in front,” said Richard whose main customer base is still within a 40 mile radius but with clients increasingly coming from further afield as his reputation grows.

His advice to anyone with a good business idea is to go with it and to get in touch with LEO to learn all their options.  

“And Leitrim is as good a location as anywhere,” he stressed. “We have good internet now. We are very accessible with the N4 to Dublin beside us and a good train service. It is much more cost effective to do business in Leitrim as the overheads are significantly less than for example, in   Dublin.

 “And six years on we feel that the LEO is still behind us. We approached them lately for more mentoring as we want to improve the marketing and advertising side of the business and they are quite willing to help us. I feel they are always at the end of the phone if we need them and its been like that for the six years we have been here.”