"A farm machinery "lifer" - Irish Farmers Monthly August 2013

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"He came up through the business".  It's a commonly used phrase and in the case of Geoff Daly, it is completely apt.  In October 1959, he started out in the farm machinery business as a trainee salesman in McGee's of Ardee at the age of 19.  The starting salary was £6.00 per week!  Geoff's initial training, apart from his farming background consisted of a year in Warrenstown Agricultural College.  Some of the machine brands that Geoff sold back then are still familiar to us today, but many are now gone, either assumed into other brands or discontinued entirely.  The Jones Baler was a popular farmer choice in the 1960s.  Allman sprayers, Taskers spreaders and buck rakes, Kidd machines and the widely used Allis Chambers were farmyard names.  Geoff remembers Allis Chambers introducting the ED40 tractor back in 1963.  With a standard four-cylinder diesel engine it became a fixture on many Irish and UK farms.  McGees had a wholesale distribution business and some of the dealerships that Geoff visited have stood the test of time too with many, however, no longer active in the industry.  He recalled companies such as McKenzies of Cork, Barlows of Clonmel, Wexford Agricultural Machinery, Elm Motors Limerick, Kellys of Kilcock and Hopkins of Wicklow.  It was quie an exciting time to be involved in farm machinery sales with such innovative brands as the Vicon Acrobat rake and wagtail spreader beginning to take hold on the Irish farming scene.

Another Step

After a short interlude outside the machinery sales arena, Geoff took on the management of the newly created Kidd Irish sales division.  Kidd Ireland was to operate successfully until the early 1990s, with initial premises based on the Long Mile Road in Dublin and then at Knockmitten.  It was in the 1980s that Geofff began his long involvement with the FTMTA.  Initially introduced to the organisation by the late John Perry, he became a Council member and was actively involved on many of the FTMTA's sub-committees.  The ultimate accolade was conferred on Geoff in 1987 when he was elected as the 13th president of the organisation.  It was a good time to be at the top with agriculture going through one of its better periods and farm machinery sales benefiting.  The 274-strong membership figures of the FTMTA reflect this more prosperous time in Irish agriculture.  It was during Geoff's presidential tenure that the gestation of an indoor farm machinery show took place.  This culminated with the first biennial FTMTA Farm Mahinery Show opening in the RDS in February 1989.  The first year's attendance of 9000 people reflected the demand for such an exhibition.  By 2013, the attendance has grown to 18,000 plus.  This was a transformative initiative for the FTMTA and led on over a period of years to the establishment of the Grass and Muck farm mahcinery biennial demonsatration as well as the realisation that a dedicated Training centre was a necessary, indeed vital, adjunct for an organisation with the diverse training requirements its members require.  Again, change was in the offing with Kidd Farm Machinery being sold to the Danish company, Taarup, in 1991.  The headquarters for the newly formed Taarup Kidd Ireland was in Kilkenny.  A decision was made to provide representation for the valuable Lely franchise and Geoff Daly set up a separate company under the Lely Ireland brand.  This company provided the sales and service backup for Lely products across the country.  Lely Ireland had Twose Hedge Cutters, Gambetti Sprayers, Star Slurry Tankers and West Muckspreaders in its portfolio.

Daly's Farmec

Further changes in Lely International brought about another seismic shift in Geoff Daly's eventful career in the farm machinery business.  In 1994, together with his son, Garry, he formed Farmec Ireland Ltd.  Today, Farmec represents a range of well-known machinery brands.  These include Bargam sprayers, Twose hedge cutters, Sulky spreaders and seed drills, MX loaders, Fella grass machinery and two specialist golf course mahcinery manufacturers, Rogers and Woodbay.  Geoff's son Garry was elected the 25th President of the FTMTA in 2011.

Reflecting Change

In many ways Geoff's career in the farm machinery businesss reflects the changes and developments in the sector itself over the years.  He witnessed the brand and machine changes and developments over the past 50 years.  He was also intimately involved in many of the changes that occurred within the industry itself with amalgamations, takeovers, new franchises and companies being formed at regular intervals, reflecting at least some of the transformation that has occurered not only in Ireland but internationally over the period in the farm machinery sector.  The quite remarkable transfomation in tractor manufacturing is a case in point.  Gone are the familiar brand names such as Leyland, Ford, David Brown and many others. 

What is, perhaps most noteworthy and praiseworthy is the career development of Geoff himself.  He moved from salesman to management roles and ultimately to ownership of a successful farm machinery business, while all the time being fully involved in the development of the broader industry across the country as an active membe and officer of the FTMTA.

Download the Irish Farmers Monthly article August 2013 in pdf format