The SAS Institute, based at Medmenham, near Marlow in Buckinghamshire, is the latest organisation to purchase a Ventrac 4500 compact tractor and attachments. The leading global analytics company purchased the equipment from Aylesbury-based groundscare dealer, RT Machinery Ltd.
The 110-acre Medmenham estate is an amalgamation of two previous sites; Whittington House, a former mansion which is now used as the company's meeting and conference centre and an old MOD premises, which was purchased and demolished to make way for the modern offices. It consists of formal gardens and lawns, a unique arboretum, a cricket pitch for staff use as well as the local village team, a 3-hole pitch-and-putt course, 5-a-side football pitch, wildflower meadow, river frontage to the Thames and staff allotments.
Landscaping Manager George Reeder is the man tasked with the job of managing the estate. He heads a team of 5 and joined SAS as a gardener in 2005. He studied at Sparsholt College in Hampshire before joining Countrywide Grounds Maintenance as part of the team maintaining the green spaces of various hotels in the south of England.
"Our mid-mounted rotary mower was nearing the end of its working life," he said, "and we were in the market for a replacement machine. We were considering an out-front flail, but then attended an RT Machinery open day and saw the Ventrac with its Contour deck. It looked to be a very innovative machine so we organised a demonstration on site. It worked exceptionally well, producing great stripes and has now replaced our cylinder mower as well. Rye stalks, which are problematic for a cylinder machine, are no longer an issue as it deals with them admirably. This versatility has enabled us to replace two machines with one.
"As well as the Contour deck we have also purchased a Finishing deck and ToughCut deck and there's scope to purchase additional implements in the future. One of its prime benefits is that we can now access and maintain areas on banks where previously we could not get machines on. Its compact nature means we can get under branches and we have saved considerable man-hours on strimming due to its out-front design and manoeuvrability.
"The Finishing deck, which mulches effectively and is rear discharge, works great in all conditions, be it long grass or in the wet. Height adjustment is simple and it does not scalp easily. It has a relatively small engine, minimal hydraulics and is good on fuel. The flip up decks are easy to clean and maintain and it provides a comfortable working platform for the operator. The ToughCut deck is equally impressive, especially in little maintained areas where it can cut through saplings and long brush with ease. All in all, a great addition to our fleet here at Medmenham."
Founded in 1976 by current CEO James Goodnight and three other faculty members from North Carolina State University, SAS is the leader in analytics software and services with global headquarters in Cary, North Carolina. Its solutions help businesses to access, manage, analyse and interpret data to aid decision-making. The company is one of the world's largest privately held software businesses and its customers include most of the Fortune 500 companies.