Business Killimor Alstrong Ltd hopes to exploit the growing reputation of Ireland for quality agricultural products in the future, but for now, focus on the Irish and British markets, having been in existence for a little over a year.
Director Alan Winters explains co-founder Ger Daly first approached him with an idea to develop an aerator floor there three years ago. An agricultural contractor and farmer, Mr. Daly saw firsthand the gap in the market for such a product. The duo then put their heads together, conducted research and considerable development, built a lot of prototypes and made "a lot of experimentation and any mistakes" before perfecting and the launch of their product, Alstrong aerator .
"The problem with farmland today is that it has become very compact wet and livestock and machinery journey on earth. Soil became compact and non-porous, so instead of drain freely through the soil and leaves, water just sits on the surface and flood the earth. Our machine has been designed and developed to alleviate this problem compaction, "says Winters, adding product which improves the capacity of soil to produce crops, is "totally unique" to Ireland.
Unit sales "far exceeded" their expectations for the first year, with 50 units sold, 40 in Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom, where the company has partnered with two dealers. "There is definitely a market out there and it is a good growth market," he said, explaining that, despite the economic difficulties, agricultural contractors tend to upgrade their machines on an annual basis.
Mr. Winters also sees potential in other countries, including France and continental Europe, but for the moment Alstrong focuses on Ireland and the United Kingdom.
"It is early days and we need to walk before you can run!"
He added that the team Alstrong have great faith in their products. "If the product is good, customers will come in time," he said.
Alstrong can serve as an inspiration to those in agriculture who see the potential to develop a secondary activity on the farm, such as soil aerators are manufactured in the workshop of the company on the farm family Mr. Winters Killimor, Ballinasloe, where another staff member working with him.
The company plans to employ additional staff on site, in the future, also with materials from as close as possible to their homes. "All our suppliers are local, we try to keep it as local as possible," says Winters.
The approach Alstrong marketing and reach their potential customers involves also remain local and participation in agricultural fairs across the country, including Tullamore Show in August and national championships plowing Laois September.
The company, which was named Best New Business in Galway County & City Enterprise Awards earlier this year, has already attended a show in the UK, and Mr. Winters points out that new entrepreneurs trying to break into markets overseas need to "do literally on a plane and go on yourself and knock on doors."
The company received € 2000 Commission financing companies Galway County and the city to attend the UK show last January and also receive advice on an ongoing basis to enter new markets team Enterprise Board, in particular mentor Charles Lynch, Mr. Winters stating that it is "definitely beneficial" for entrepreneurs to talk to the team there.
However, he believes that, in general, there is insufficient for those looking to start their own business in Ireland supports. "You have to go out on a limb anything, and that is fair enough, but there is very little help out there. There is no incentive to take the risk to make the leap and go try to launch a product and try to develop a product and promote it. You must do everything on your own cost and will be on your head if it was not a success. "
Article by Lorraine O'Hanlon
First published in the July 23, 2013 Galway Independent