Fleet contractors choose John Deere
When it came to choosing a new machine for their expanding grass cutting business, County Tyrone-based McGrath Contracts went for the John Deere 1565 - a front rotary mower with such a pedigree, they ended up buying seven of them from the local John Deere dealership, Johnston Gilpin & Co in Lisburn.
Another local grass cutting contractor, Kevin O'Kane, who operates as North West Landscapes in the Newry and Banbridge areas, bought six additional John Deere 1565s at the same time as McGrath Contracts, in a unique consortium deal.
North West Landscapes has the grass maintenance contract for South Armagh as well as Newry and Banbridge. Kevin O'Kane not only appreciates the dealer's back-up service - as he pointed out, "Productivity from the John Deere mowers has been so high that four machines are getting through all the work at the moment, and the other two are still unpacked in the shed!"
McGrath Contracts were awarded the tender to maintain 335 acres of grass in the Armagh and Craigavon Housing Executive Districts in November 2004, and knew they needed to upgrade their mowers to keep on top of such a demanding job.
"We ran a fleet of previous generation John Deere 1145 mowers and were familiar with the company's reputation," said the company's PJ McGrath. "These machines were approaching five years old, but were still in very good condition. However, the new contract was for five years, and meant we had to carry out 20 to 24 cuts of grass per year and maintain that grass at a constant height of less than 65mm, so we knew that the fleet would need updating and enlarging in order to cope.
"Our company has been dealing with Johnston Gilpin for several years, and we have received nothing but the best service we could expect," added PJ. "That fact, coupled with our own experience with John Deere machinery, prompted us to invest in the 1565 model for its larger engine, increased output and good build strength. The larger 66 litre fuel tank and speeds of up to 15 miles an hour also mean we can get extra productivity and efficiency."
Operator Lawson McKitterick drives one of the new machines and says there is quite a difference between the new 1565 and the old 1145. "We use various six and seven foot high-speed flails on the new 1565s, which they handle without any hesitation," he said. "The 36hp Yanmar diesel engine provides real grunt for these mowers, and can do so in the toughest conditions we face.
"Another good point is that the mower is very easy to operate, even in the most difficult grass areas we have to deal with in the Housing Executive Districts. It's quieter than the old machine and has lower emission levels, so it's also better for the environment," he added.