Ground Control in Lisburn, Co.Down, is the retail arm of Johnston Gilpin & Co, the company established in 1968 to distribute agricultural and domestic ground care machinery within Northern Ireland.
Over the last 40 years the family run business has grown to 26 staff and a turnover in excess of £8 million. The Ground Control arm was set up to become Northern Ireland's leading sales outlet for domestic garden equipment.
They are now main agents for Schiller Grounds Care products. Servicing the whole of Northern Ireland and Donegal for the professional sector and Counties Down, Fermanagh, Tyrone and part of Antrim for the domestic sector the group has been carefully expanding its portfolio of professional and domestic products, in particular the Little Wonder, Mantis and Classen machinery.
A long-time supplier of Mantis, the additional products have been brought in to meet growing demand across the region. "We have had a lot of interest from councils in the Little Wonder Pro Edger," says Ground Control's Neale McConnell, "and a new area for us is with the Classen equipment for golf courses, such as the aerator, scarifier and turf rake, right across the region and into Donegal.
We're working closely together with Schiller to provide the best advice and equipment." Neale's view is the economy is picking up, albeit in a slow, steady recovery and with it the demand for the range of products has been increasing.
This is particularly noticeable in the hire market where products such as the Little Wonder High Performance Vacuum (HPV) and hydrostatic brush cutter are popular, together with the Classen turf care machinery.
Throughout, even in the difficult economic times, the Mantis brand, well known for the Mantis tillers, have been selling well and Ground Control are now looking at the new range of Mantis Garden Power Tool range which includes cordless hedge trimmers, hand shears, a pole pruner and extended reach hedge trimmer.
These go hand in hand with the electric tiller, the electric chainsaw and blower vac. Neale adds: "The more we talk to the councils, contractors, golf courses and domestic users the more stock we're bringing in from Schiller because there is now such a good range of quality products available to meet the growing demand."