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DEALER SPOTLIGHT: Farmtec

Neil Bartholomew of Farmtec is our dealer in the spotlight this month. With over 30 years of experience in the design and supply of livestock housing and handling equipment - Neil shares memorable moments from the business, his time as a football player, talent scout, and more!
Tell us a little about yourself

I started as a trainee with a company called Gascoigne Gush & Dent in 1976 at Leek in Staffordshire, supplying milking machines and tubular steel equipment throughout the UK.

I have been in the agricultural tubular steel industry since then working for IAE and LM Bateman, with whom I relocated with my young family to Llawhaden, near Narberth in 1989 as a director. I started with a dozen gates in stock, building up a strong presence for Batemans, supplying directly to the farmers of Ceredigion, Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire and even Shropshire & Cheshire.

I briefly worked at Shufflebottom Buildings as General Manager from 2000 to 2002. This is when I decided to go on my own as Farmtec doing what I enjoy most in designing and supplying animal housing and handling systems.

Soniwch ychydig am eich hun

Dechreuais fy ngyrfa o dan hyfforddiant gyda chwmni Gascoigne Gush & Dent yn 1976 yn Leek, Swydd Stafford yn gwerthu peiriannau godro ac offer ‘steel tubular’ ar draws Prydain. Rwyf wedi bod yn rhan o ddiwydiant amaethyddol ‘steel tubular’ ers hynny gan fynd i weithio gyda IAE ac LM Bateman, a gyda nhw wnes ail-leoli fel Cyfarwyddwr gyda teulu ifanc yn Llawhaden ger Arberth yn 1989. Dechreuais gyda dwsin o gatiau gan adeiladu’r busnes yn darparu’n syth i ffermwyr ar draws Ceredigion, Sir Gaerfyrddin, Sir Benfro, Swydd Amwythig a Swydd Gaer. Am gyfnod byr rhwng 2000 a 2002 gweithiais i gwmni Shufflebottom fel Rheolwr Cwmni ac o hynny penderfynais mentro ar liwt fy hun gyda ‘Farmtec’. A hyd yma mae Farmtec yn datblygu’n dda ac rydw yn mwynhau dylunio a chyflenwi systemau trafod stoc ac offer adeiladau anifeiliaid.

What do you do at Farmtec?

Primarily our business is a consultancy based company. We design and supply animal housing and handling equipment, which is bespoke to each individual requirement per farm. We specialise in advising, and developing existing land or buildings. Alternatively, we can help turn whole new greenfield sites into finished units.

I think the fact no job is seen as too small, and our ability to give advice gained with experience over many years, makes us unique in the area and our field. I’m more than happy to try and use customers own surplus items, or even sell stuff for them rather than just give the hard sell, which I know is appreciated.

Beth mae Farmtec yn cynnig?

Busnes ymgynghori yw Farmtec. Maent yn dylunio a chyflenwi offer penodol ar gyfer siediau ac offer trin yr anifeiliaid. Maent hefyd yn datblygu adeiladau a thir. Nid oes un jobyn rhy fach ac rydym yn mwynhau cyd-weithio gyda’r cwsmeriaid.

How have things changed over your time in business?

I have seen many changes in the farming industry since the business began in 2002. I think one of the biggest changes which I hear the older farmers mention often, was the demise of the milk marketing board. This gave the dairy farmers a more unified strength when negotiating prices. It is so wrong that this industry is one of few where they are told what price they are to receive dictated by the supermarkets, who continue to use milk as a loss leader.

Sut mae pethau wedi newid dros y blynyddoedd?

Rwyf wedi gweld newidiadau mawr yn y diwydiant amaeth ers cychwyn y busnes yn 2002.Y newid mwyaf efallai oedd diwedd ar y bwrdd marchnata llaeth oedd ar y pryd wedi rhoi cryfder i ffermwyr i drafod prisoedd llaeth. Teimlaf bod yn annheg i ffermwyr eu bod yn berchen i ddiwydiant sydd yn gorfod derbyn pris sy’n cael ei phenderfynu gan yr archfarchnad.

What is the best thing about the brands you sell?

I have supplied Teemore equipment for the past 5 years and have found this product unique in that it allows quicker delivery with the products being adjustable.

I am also one of the longest suppliers of Galebreaker products, having dealt with them long before I came to Wales in 1989, so I know they are a good reliable company.

The cow mattress company, Cozy Cow, is one I’ve dealt with for over 30 years, so it gives me confidence to offer these products knowing the company has a good long record.

Cryfderau eich brandiau?

Erbyn hyn rwyf wedi gwerthu cynnyrch Teemore ers 5 mlynedd ac rwy’n credu bod yr offer yn unigryw oherwydd yr amser archebu a derbyn cyflym ac mae’n addasadwy. Rwyf wedi gwerthu nwyddau Galebreaker a Cozy Cow ers blynyddoedd maith ac yn hyderus yn eu gwerthu yn gwybod bod record hir a da gyda nhw.

What has been the most memorable moment in the business?

I designed and supplied all the penning at Carmarthen Cattle market, which was a big challenge, and also one of my proudest achievements.

I also enjoyed helping former rugby referee, Nigel Owens, design and plan his way forward with his new project of farming Hereford cattle.

Uchafbwyntiau’r busnes?

Roeddwn yn gyfrifol am dylunio a gwerthu’r offer ar gyfer Marchnad Da Byw Caerfyrddin. Roedd hyn yn her enfawr a dyma un o fy gampau mwyaf. Rwyf hefyd wedi bod yn helpu Nigel Owen gyda’i system ffermio newydd yn cadw gwartheg Henffordd.

What is your unique selling point?

I believe that the personal service we are able to offer, and ability to listen to what the customer wants makes a difference. This also gives us a unique experience available to the farmer. Every job is different yet many are similar, so we can blend our experience and expertise to give the right advice and product.

Cryfder y busnes?

Mae gennym bod ganddo wasanaeth personol cryf ac rydym yn gallu gwrando ar y cwsmeriaid i’w helpu. Mae pob prosiect yn wahanol ond nifer yn debyg ac felly mae’r wybodaeth a’r profiad yn gallu helpu pawb. 

What's ahead for the business?

We continue to plan for the future, although we have pulled back from the agricultural shows as we have continued to increase business even after Covid.

One of my sons runs a similar business from Dorset supplying the farmers in the South of England, Devon & Cornwall. He was born in Wales so very much regards himself as Welsh, especially at 6 nations time with the rugby!

He would like to come back ‘home’ eventually, so may take the business on when I eventually retire, but either way, we plan to continue providing the service we have built our reputation on. We regard many of our customers as friends, therefore we hope to continue the partnerships with the next generation.

Dyfodol y busnes?

Rwy’n parhau i gynllunio ar gyfer y dyfodol ond penderfyniais beidio arddangos mewn sioeau amaethyddol gan fod y busnes yn cadw i wneud yn dda ers Cofid. Mae un o fy meibion yn rhedeg cwmni tebyg yn Ne Lloegr ac yn teimlo ei hun yn Gymro. Byddai ef yn hoffi’r syniad o ddychwelyd adre ac efallai cymryd drosodd y busnes pan fyddai yn ymddeol. Rwy’n ystyried bod nifer o’i gwsmeriaid yn ffrindiau a hoffai bod y patrwm yma yn dal i fynd gyda’r genhedlaeth nesaf.

Going solo - Football

One of the reasons for going alone was that an opportunity arose to continue my involvement with football, after retiring from playing at the age of 40. I had played since primary school at county level, and was at Stoke City as a youngster. When released at 17, I played at semi-professional level thereafter. My manager at Gush & Dent had given me the ultimatum of ‘goals or gates’ so I ended up with the best of both.

I was offered a role at Derby County, then in the Premiership, to scout in the academy which I did for 6 months. After a few months I was given the chance to work with my favourite team, Newcastle United, starting as an academy scout for Wales and the south west.

I built this up to working for the 1st team as European scout travelling all over UK & Europe to spot new talent for the various managers, including Bobby Robson, Kevin Keegan and Sam Allardyce. After 8 years there, I worked for Leicester city (twice with Nigel Pearson) Hull, and Sheffield Wednesday.

I have met many famous names in football over the years, which has been a dream fulfilled – especially working for Newcastle, the team from my native north east. There are many well-known players I have found but the best of all has to be Aaron Ramsey at the age of 14 who went on to have a great career at Arsenal and become Wales captain. I did actually turn down Gareth Bale at the age of 14 but he didn’t develop until later so one can’t win them all. I now act as an agent to a few players, and am still very much involved in football.

Pêl-droed

Un o’r rhesymau dros fentro ar liwt fy hun oedd bod cyfle wedi cyrraedd i ddal ati gyda’i chysylltiad â phêl-droed ar ôl ymddeol o chwarae pan yn 40. Chwaraeais pêl-droed ers yn blentyn yn yr ysgol gynradd a hynny ar lefel Sirol ac roeddwn yn chwarae i Ddinas Stoke yn ifanc hefyd. Yn 17 es i chwarae yn hanner-broffesiynol. Roddodd fy rheolwr yng nghwmni ‘Gush & Dent’ dewis imi naill ai dewis ‘gatiau neu goliau’ ond fe barhawyd gyda’r gorau o’r ddau. Cynigwyd rôl gyda tim Derby yn yr uwch-gynghrair i chwilio am unigolion addawol yn yr academi, a wnes hwn am 6 mis. Yn dilyn rhai misoedd fe cefais cyfle i weithio gyda hoff dîm sef Newcastle United; dechrau fel fforiwr i’r academi gan chwilio’r Cymry ac yna unigolion o’r de-orllewin.

Symydais ymlaen i weithio gyda’r tîm cyntaf gan deithio Prydain ac Ewrop yn chwilio am dalent newydd ar ran nifer o rheolwyr fel Bobby Robson, Kevin Keegan a Sam Allardyce. Ar ôl 8 mlynedd yma es i weithio i Gaerlys, Hull a Sheffield Wednesday. Dros y blynyddoedd rwyf wedi dewis nifer o enwogion o fewn y byd pêl-droed ac y gorau yw Aaron Ramsey pan oedd yn 14 mlwydd oed. Aeth ymlaen i chwarae i Arsenal a fuodd yn capten ar tim Cymru. Rwyf nawr yn asiant i nifer o chwaraewyr ac yn mwynhau bod yng nglŵm â phêl-droed.

Church life

I am also a committed Christian which is an important part of my life, and I do my best to reflect this in my work and football.

My wife, Lesley, and I are co-leaders of an evangelical church in Saundersfoot (The Bridge Saundersfoot – thebridgesaundersfoot.org) which has built up from about 20 people to over 80 now in 18 months.

It is a great privilege to be able to encourage people and speak into their lives, especially in the current circumstances many find themselves in i.e struggling financially, having family or health problems etc. Each week we see new people coming in to church and we have formed a youth club and mother & toddlers group which helps the community.

We are also a reference point for a food bank, which sadly is something more and more need help with. I also have many opportunities to share my faith in the world of football and have spoken at various events and schools.

My wife and I own a shop in Saundersfoot called Christkindl – www.christkindl.co.uk – that sells household ornaments, ladies and men’s clothes, children’s toys and gifts plus cards for birthdays etc. This also helps us to play a part in our community.

Yr Eglwys

Rwyf yn weithgar iawn yn yr Eglwys leol ac yn Gristion ffyddlon. Mae fy ngwraig a minnai wedi cynyddu cynulleidfa sylweddol ac rydym yn mwynhau trefnu grwpiau ar gyfer yr ifanc, a mamau a phlant, sydd wrth gwrs yn helpu’r gymuned. Yn ogystal mae gennym siop nwyddau yn Saundersfoot. 

Contact details:

Mobile: 07813 014163

Office: 01834 812299

Email:  neil@farmtec.biz

Web: www.farmtecltd.co.uk

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