Complete with balloons, competitions, special deals and plenty to see, we recently traveled to Carlisle to sample the Rickerby Spring Show. James Rickard reports from the event.
Now in its 18th year, the Rickerby Spring Show has become a staple and highly anticipated event for the machinery dealer.
Designed to showcase the multiple franchises and suppliers the dealer has to offer, along with advice and demonstrations, the event now attracts between 4-5,000 people over its two days.
Hosted at its 3.2 hectare (eight acre) Carlisle headquarters site, the event has grown substantially over the years as the company’s western area sales director, Martyn Henderson explains; “We never really thought it would last this long. We originally decided to have our own show in 2002 due to show restrictions because of foot and mouth.
“Back then it was organised between our Carlisle and Penrith depots by just a couple of people, now the whole company, from the apprentices to the directors, are involved in putting on the event.”
Equivalent to the size of a UK premier football pitch, most of the show is under cover, with about 70 manufacturers supporting the event including Rickerby’s major franchises such as Claas and Lemken. Outside, a large selection of used kit was featured, as well as the ability to try out a selection of tractors.
Mr Henderson says; “We try and have a wide range of equipment on show, from small to large while trying to appeal across various farming sectors. A prime example of this is the inclusion of vegetable equipment in our portfolio, from Salmac with its Italian-built Farrari machines, driven by the South Lancashire market.
“We also often have guest manufacturers at the event such as 4x4 dealerships, and we always try and do something a bit different such as the special edition tractors on show: one an Arion 650 Cebis with a metallic green paint job courtesy of M and B Body Repairs, and the other is a black Axion 830 complete with red trimmed rims.
The show is not just for the grownups either, explains Mr Henderson. “We firmly encourage the whole family to come along and get involved. Much of the event is about being approachable and building relations, which is something you cannot always do properly by attending an agricultural show.”
Over the years, the show has developed to become a launch pad to show off some of the latest kit. “This year we have Claas’s updated Tucano combine, its new 500 Series Rollant round balers, a special edition 40,000th Jaguar forager, Torion wheeled loaders and new Corto drum mowers,” says Mr Henderson.
Apart from its size, the show has evolved significantly over the years. “In the early days we would always feature some big pieces of kit as show stoppers, such as Claas’s Lexion combines or its Xerion tractors. But now, these big bits of kit have become the norm. And with machines like these, customers have become a lot more business-minded, with Rickerby becoming a key partner for their business.
“Generally, agriculture is fairly buoyant at the moment. It is fair to say everyone is sick of Brexit – no one can properly plan for the future, with many farm business trying to do what is right day by day.”
This translates into the way Rickerby has to now deal with new machinery sales, says Mr Henderson. “Because of the potential longer lead times caused by Brexit, we are having to order stock a lot further in advance. Factories are also a lot leaner than they used to be, with nothing on the shelf anymore.”
As for the future of the show, Mr Henderson says; “Every year we review how the show went and whether it is still worth continuing with. So far, it is still working for us and is a real show of strength to our customers and potential customers.”
Founded by Joseph Rickerby in 1880 as a blacksmiths, next year will see the company reach a major milestone, with the firm celebrating 140 years of business.
Still family owned, fourth generation Paddy Rickerby heads the board as chairman, along with Ken Connolly (managing director), Martyn Henderson (western area sales director), Colin Potts (eastern area sales director) and Neil Platten (company secretary). Next in line to the throne will be Paddy’s nephew, Will.
Much of the company’s ethos is built on loyal relations, and this extends to its choice of franchises, many of which are long standing. Mr Henderson says; “We started dealing with Claas in the 50s, McConnel since the 60s and Abbey in the 70s. We have also had Bailey and Bunning for 30 years.
“These long term franchises offers a high degree of continuity and confidence for our customers, and as a result we have been the top dealer for most of these manufacturers.
“And like Rickerby, they are pretty much all family owned companies, which makes a real difference to the relationship.”
Other franchises include Lemken, Schaffer, KRM, Opico, Kawasaki, IAE, Bargam, Suton, Quicke, Foster and Salmac.
Across its eight depots, Rickerby has 130 members of staff. Its current area encompasses everything from the M62 all the way up to the Scottish Boarders, with further expansion planned for a ninth depot in South Lancashire. “We have been operating in this area for a while so we have the experience, and now we think the time is right to setup a depot to support this area,” says Mr Henderson. “And though big is not always beautiful, having multiple depots does mean we have the specialist knowledge and the scale to back-up the diverse range of machines we sell - and it means we can be economical.”