New Holland is farewelling one of its most experienced product marketing managers who has spent almost half a century in the groundcare industry.
Alan Hawes, who has worked for the company for almost the last 20 years, is retiring from an industry that has undergone considerable change since he entered it as a 17-year-old.
"When I started most customers would have a tractor on every implement, and the UK industry supported about 33,000 machines. That number has now halved, and tractors have become bigger, more powerful and able to handle a wider range of tasks. Air conditioning used to be standard as there weren't any cabs," Hawes says.
The industry guru has spent the last 10 years in charge of New Holland's 65-115HP tractors, the T4000s, TD5000, T5000s, and fruit tractors. He says working on that size of machine has allowed him to travel the length and breadth of the UK & Republic of Ireland, meeting customers on local authority and sports grounds, and sites that are close to his heart - golf courses.
"We sell a lot of T4000s into golf courses and during my career I've had the chance to work with great people on some special courses.
"Obviously St Andrew's would be a highlight. To be stood in their workshops and looking across at the royal and ancient club house and golf hotel you think: 'am I dreaming?' It's a dream come true to be training these people on our tractors at the home of golf," Hawes adds.
His love of tractors and machinery started when he used to sit on the wing of his father's Fordson Standard. From there he progressed to an apprenticeship before working in multiple roles across service, sales and marketing with tractor firms. He then joined Fiat and New Holland from 1991.
Of his 48 year career, Hawes says: "I've lived my dream, which started when I was with my father on the farm. I've always had the ambition to work with machinery and tractors and I've been able to do it. I've made a tremendous number of friends over the years, worked for a wonderful company in New Holland and enjoyed every minute of it. I won't retire rich, but I'll have rich memories."
Steve Basnett, who has been working in New Holland's demonstration team across Europe, will assume the role of marketing product support specialist from October. "I think Alan will be missed by the industry," Basnett says. "It's a great opportunity for me and I have some big shoes to fill."