Norse Commercial Services (NCS) has purchased a Ventrac 4500 all-terrain compact tractor and Tough Cut deck, through supplying dealer Ernest Doe & Sons, to help maintain the embankments of the new Broadland Northway. The 19.5 km (12 mile) dual carriageway, formerly known as the Norwich Northern Distributor Road (NNDR) connects traffic from the eastern approaches to the northwest of the city.
Completed in April 2018
at a cost of £208 million, it has 39 km (24 miles) of embankments that have
been planted with 380,000 native shrubs and trees, including gorse, oak, acer
and hawthorn. Areas with no tree or shrub planting have been seeded with four
differing mixes of wildflower seeds. It is these wildflower areas that the
Ventrac and Tough Cut deck are maintaining.
Simon Mutten is the
Head of Policy and Strategy at GYB Services, Project Co-ordinator for the NCS
and lead liaison with the client, Norfolk County Council. Commenting on the new
machine he said,
Management Plan requires a cut and rake of the wildflower sections twice a
year. This is the first year that the embankments have been cut and we required
a machine to work alongside our existing Roboflail, to increase productivity on
the larger areas. We have 1.5 million square metres to maintain, so we were
looking for something more productive to ensure that we provide best value to
Martin Adcock is Operations
Manager at Norwich Norse Environmental, one of the three companies involved in
the joint venture to maintain the highway, and was the person tasked with
finding a solution to the maintenance issue.
“My first action was an internet search for slope mowers. Remote controlled mowers, including our Roboflail, featured prominently but productivity was an issue due to their limited width of cut. The Ventrac also featured in the search and, with its 1.7 metre cutting width and maximum speed of around 16 km an hour, it appeared that it could do the job. However, I had not heard of the machine before and was quite sceptical. I contacted our dealer, Ernest Doe, who is a trusted partner and has supplied us with groundscare equipment for many years.
“They advised that they had experience of the machine and could arrange a demonstration, which was done very quickly. Once I’d seen it in action, and had a chance to operate it myself, I realised that it would certainly do the job for us. The demo was brilliant; it tackled the embankments with ease and left a very acceptable finish. With a ground pressure of just 6 psi, it’s gentle on the newly established slopes and can be used at 30 degrees, something no other ride-on machine can achieve. We are also using it around the lagoons that take the water run-off from the road.”
Eton College, one of the leading independent schools in the UK, has purchased a Ventrac 4500 all-terrain compact tractor and multiple attachments from local dealer TH White Ltd, to help maintain the grounds at Dorney Lake, the rowing and canoe sprint venue for the 2012 London Olympic Games.
Set in over 400 acres
of parkland by the river Thames, the lake complex was completed in 2006, after
10 years of construction. It is privately owned and financed by Eton College and
although it is primarily for use by the school, the facilities are hired out
for rowing, canoeing, dragon boating, open water swimming and triathlon.
Paul Oatway is the Grounds Supervisor at Dorney Lake, reporting to David Warner, the Grounds Manager, who is responsible for all of the open spaces at the world-renowned college. Paul has been at Eton for 30 years; he started work as a tree surgeon with the Forestry department and for the past 25 years has worked at Dorney Lake. He heads a small team of two grounds staff – Bradley Gardiner and Pavel Lukaszwski and they are totally responsible for maintaining over 200 acres of grass and woodland at the international venue.
“We have some steep banks here at Dorney,” he said, “and
were looking to replace our older Aebi machines, which had been fantastic for
us. We asked TH White to source some alternative machines, but they were either
too small and unproductive or had tracks, which we did not want. They finally
came to us with the Ventrac and, quite frankly, we were not that impressed when
we saw it on the trailer.
“However, once it was in action on our steep slopes with
the Finishing deck on the front, we were immediately won over. It performed
excellently and in the wet too. We initially purchased the Tough Cut deck, the
Power Rake and Power Brush attachments, but recently returned to TH White and
bought a Finishing deck as well. We’re very impressed with the manoeuvrability
and the quick-release coupling system, which means we can change between
implements with ease. However, the biggest plus is the way it copes with the
slopes; it’s just an amazing bit of kit.
“The Tough Cut deck tackles brambles and thick vegetation
very efficiently and the Power Rake has saved us money when we renovate our car
parks. They are basically compacted road scalpings and the rake removes
potholes and levels these areas without the need to bring in new material. We
are also a venue for several triathlons and the brush is great at keeping the
pathways clear and sweeping away the leaves in the autumn. The latest addition,
the Finishing deck, will allow us to raise the level of presentation as we can now
stripe the spectator banks along the side of the lake.
“We’ve gone from sceptics to advocates in a very short space of time. It’s a great machine.”
About Eton Dorney
Built to host world
championship rowing events, the lake must be Stillwater with consistent rowing
conditions. It has 2,200 metres (7,200 ft) straight length for racing
comprising 8 rowing lanes, each 13.5 metres (44 ft) wide. The minimum water
depth of 3.5 metres (11 ft) and a return channel allows boats to move to the
start, separated from the main lake by an island
For the 2012 Olympic Games the existing facilities were enhanced to include 20,000 additional seats; most of which were temporary. Construction began in October 2009, following investigations by Oxford Archaeology, and enhancements included a new cut-through between the competition lake and the return lane, a new bridge and an upgraded access road, funded by the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA). During the Olympic events, Dorney Lake was staffed by around 3,500 personnel including volunteers; it could accommodate up to 30,000 spectators per day. A temporary bridge linked the Dorney Lake site to Windsor Racecourse, where a pick-up and drop-off point for Olympic spectators was established. Other access options existed for walkers and cyclists.
Dorney Lake has hosted the following international rowing events:
2005 Rowing World Cup
2005 Coupe de la Jeunesse
2006 World Rowing
Championships (20–27 August)
2011 World Rowing
Junior Championships (3–7 August)
2012 Summer Olympics
(27 July – 12 August: rowing from 28 July to 4 August, then canoe sprint)
2012 Summer Paralympics
(29 August – 9 September: rowing from 31 August to 2 September)
2013 Rowing World Cup (21–23 June)
The public are allowed access
to the grounds of Dorney Lake when sporting events are not being run. The
two-kilometre-long flat, straight paths that run along each side of the main
lake make it a popular venue for runners, skaters, and even cross-country
skiers practising with roller skis. The picturesque landscape also makes it a
popular location for dog walkers and people out for fun.
GreenKeeping reports that The Club Company, which owns and operates 14 Country Clubs across the UK, has taken delivery of a further Ventrac 4500 compact tractor with Contour mowing deck and blower attachments. This latest combination has been delivered to Woodbury Park Hotel and Golf Club near Exeter and brings the total of Ventrac machines within the group to four.
“This is an exceptional machine combination,” said course manager Gareth Tucker. “Unlike some parts of the country, we had a very wet summer and it has continued into the autumn. This has created some challenges for the greenkeeping team, but the Ventrac has got us out of jail on many occasions. With its minimal ground pressure it can go out in all weather. The Contour deck is used on the semi-rough and the quality of finish for Captain’s Day this year was exceptional; we can lift the height of cut and also use it on the rough.”
Fentons of Bourne, Price Turfcare’s local dealer for Lincolnshire and the East Midlands, won the Best Allied Trade Stand award at the Midlands Machinery Show held at Newark Showground on 20-21 November.
The Midlands Machinery Show is one of the fastest-growing annual events in the agricultural sector, bringing together farmers, agricultural contractors, and suppliers in a friendly and relaxed business environment. Over 300 exhibitors were displaying products and service in the covered halls, with the larger products situated outside on the showground.
Fentons of Bourne in conjunction with Price Turfcare, created a demonstration area where visitors could see displays highlighting the versatility of the tractor unit and associated attachments. The demonstration arena featured two Ventrac all-terrain compact tractors and 14 different attachments including a selection of mowing decks, trencher, stump grinder, blowers, power brushes, power rakes and more.
Glen Bellamy, managing director of Fentons said, “We were delighted and surprised to win this award. At mid-afternoon a team of show organisers turned up, mid-demonstration, and presented us with the award. Rupert Price and his team put in a lot of effort to make the demonstrations meaningful for the attendees and there was considerable interest in the products. The Ventrac was probably the smallest machine on display amongst all the large agricultural machinery, but it certainly punched above its weight.”
Rupert Price added, “We were invited to attend the show in conjunction with Fentons and it was too good an opportunity to pass by. It gave us some brilliant exposure for both the product and the brand to a new audience and that was our main aim. However, it did more than that; we came away with demo requests and the icing on the cake was winning the award.
“Although tiny by comparison to some of the huge tractors and other agricultural equipment, the visitors readily appreciated the design features of our machine and the fact that it can generate such consistent power from a sub-25 hp engine. I think they were also impressed with its manoeuvrability and versatility.
Definitely a very good event for us and it made two days standing outside in the cold, well worthwhile.”
“SALTEX just gets better and better for us”, says Rupert Price, Managing Director of Ventrac’s UK distributor Price Turfcare
“For the past two years we’ve been coming to the event with the intention of raising the profile of the Ventrac brand, but this year there was a significant change. Visitors now know of us through our marketing initiatives including the social media platforms of Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram, together with the editorial coverage we have received in the trade media.
“We’re still working exceptionally hard demonstrating the versatility of the equipment and the recent Turf Maintenance Live (TML) event, just a week before SALTEX, was another opportunity to get the product in front of prospects.
“Many of the visitors to our stand were saying that they had seen us on social media and in the trade publications. Now they are wanting to see the equipment that is creating the buzz. At the close of the show, when we analysed the number of demonstration requests we had received, I was quite dumbfounded. With these added to those from TML, we are going to be extremely busy between now and the spring of 2020.
Tom Bailey, Area Sales Manager at RT Machinery, has won Price Turfcare’s Dealer Sales Achievement award and has been presented with £300 worth of store vouchers in appreciation of his efforts.
Rupert Price, Managing Director of Price Turfcare, the UK distributor of Ventrac said,
“As a young company we are heavily dependent on our dealer network and the enthusiasm of their sales teams. RT Machinery has readily accepted the challenge of promoting Ventrac and Tom, in particular, has excelled with some serious sales in his territory. He fully understands the attributes of the machine and its accessories and has targeted large estate owners in his area, with outstanding success.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank not only Tom, but all of our dealers and their sales staff for their fantastic commitment to Ventrac since we launched the business just under three years ago. We have certainly arrived in the UK groundscare market and it is thanks to their combined efforts.”
Tom joined RT Machinery in June 2015 as a trainee Area Sales Manager from the estate management team at SAS UK. He then completed three years of RTM training and has progressed to be one of the company’s highly skilled and dedicated Area Sales Managers
– Trevose Golf & Country Club, situated five miles west of Padstow in Cornwall, is the latest business to appreciate the benefits of owning a Ventrac 4500 compact tractor and attachments. Delivered by local dealer Devon Garden Machinery, the package included the Ventrac 4500 compact tractor, a Contour mowing deck and Power Rake.
Owned by the Gammon family, Trevose is one of Cornwall’s premier golf destinations with 36 holes of golf including the 18-hole Championship course, the 9-hole Headland course and a 9-hole short course. The Championship course was designed by Harry Colt in 1925 and has recently undergone extensive renovations under the work of architects Mackenzie & Ebert. In recent years it has hosted The Brabazon Trophy (2008), The McGregor Trophy (2012) and the English Men’s County Finals (2017). In June this year it is the venue of a Staysure Tour event – the Farm Foods European Legends Links Championship.
Neil Ivamy is the Course Manager and heads a team of 13 greenkeepers. Explaining the decision for the addition to his fleet he said, “We were in the market for a semi-rough mower and Vic Robinson, the Area Manager for Devon Garden Machinery suggested that we look at the Ventrac. I had my doubts initially as I was worried that the width of cut was slightly less than our existing pod mower, which would put significant time on the mowing operations across the three courses. However, the manoeuvrability of the machine was fantastic, reducing turning times and cutting areas we would normally have to strim, leading to improved overall productivity. We had two demonstrations and when these were concluded, I realised that my doubts were unfounded; the finish was excellent. The Ventrac is very versatile; it’s not just a mower. We purchased the Power Rake attachment in the package and that’s how I justified it to management; we can use it to enhance the appearance of the entire property, not just the golf courses.
The Power Rake is a great attachment and can reinstate pathways very easily and without the need to import new material to fill potholes. We have numerous paths around the property and it certainly reduces the maintenance hours. We also use the it when reinstating our turf nursery to rotovate the soil before reseeding. Although we didn’t purchase the Tough Cut deck or the Power Broom, they both performed superbly on demonstration and I will certainly be looking at them in the future. “The machine performs brilliantly on slopes; it can work safely up to 30 degrees, and we are now maintaining banked areas more frequently, including some that would only be strimmed twice a year. We can attach our Wiedenmann TerraRake to the rear 3-point linkage and rake the clippings to the bottom of the slopes for easier collection. Without doubt, this is a very versatile machine.”
Neil began his career at the age of 14 while still at school, working weekends in the Pro-Shop and with the greenkeeping team at nearby Merlin Golf Club, before joining on a permanent basis when he left full-time education. In the winters of 2003 and 2007 he played club cricket in Perth, western Australia and on his return spent two years in the landscaping industry. He joined Trevose as an assistant greenkeeper in 2009, was promoted to deputy course manager in 2012 and course manager in 2015.
East Anglia – The CGM Group is one of the latest landscape contractors to purchase a Ventrac package from Price Turfcare. Supplied by local dealer Ernest Doe & Sons, the package includes a Ventrac 4500 compact tractor and Finishing deck.
Managing director Tim Glover and his wife Julie started the business over 35 years ago carrying out grass cutting for the local authority in West Dereham and now provides grounds maintenance, landscaping, arboriculture, facilities management and pest control services to commercial and domestic customers throughout East Anglia. The Group employs over 180 staff working on a wide range of contracts from local authorities, agricultural processors, housing associations, schools and sports clubs through to one-off hard landscaping projects. CGM Group has bases in King’s Lynn, Norwich, Cambridge and Peterborough and regularly undertake projects in Lincolnshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex and Suffolk.
Explaining the rationale behind the purchase of the Ventrac package, Head of Operations Marcus Glover said,
“We were in the market for a new machine for our contracts with large factories and distribution centres and saw the Ventrac at LAMMA. I spoke to Rupert Price and he arranged a demonstration, which took place in February. It performed really well and we took delivery soon after. At the moment it is used exclusively for these mowing contracts, but we’ll be looking at the Power Rake and Power Brush attachments later this year as we can see more applications that will suit our business. It’s certainly a versatile machine.”
Adrian (Ady) Seymour is the principal operator and has been with CGM for 12 years. Commenting on the attributes of the machine he said,
“This is a great machine for the operator; it’s comfortable, highly manoeuvrable and very easy to use. The hand controls are intuitive and the articulating frame means we can get into tight areas, reducing additional strimming time. A tank of fuel lasts all day and once I’ve finished, I can clean it down with a light pressure washing. The deck flips up almost vertically, so that helps with cleaning, greasing and blade changing. Under the bonnet everything on the Kubota engine is easily accessible and I can easily access the radiator to blow it clear with a compressed air line.
“With its eight-wheel configuration it’s also very safe on slopes and good in wet conditions. The Finishing deck leaves a really nice finish, so much so, that I’ve been complimented by senior managers at several of our customers when I stripe up the roadside verges and entrance roads to their sites.”
Andy Seymour says that the Ventrac is a great machine to operate – comfortable, highly manoeuvrable and very easy to use!
The company’s managing director, Rupert Price was particularly upbeat. “We deliberately chose a location in one of the walkways that linked the Purple and Green zones and it worked exceptionally well for us,” he said. “Many people asked if we were late booking our space, as it was a slightly unusual position, but this was a deliberate decision that paid off brilliantly.
“This is the third time that we have attended the show and there’s definitely a different vibe from the first two occasions. Nobody really knew of us back then, but now they come onto the stand and say that they’ve seen us on social media or in the press and they want to see the equipment in the flesh, so to speak.”
“Needless to say, with the amount of footfall across the stand, we’ve had some great enquiries and there’s a lot of work to do over the coming months, when we’ll be following up the leads and booking demonstrations.”
“Personally, I don’t think the decision to change the layout of the event was an issue; Jim Croxton and his team did a very good job of trying to ensure that every location was well signposted, but you can’t expect to get it absolutely correct at the first attempt. I’m sure there’ll be a few tweaks next years; it was still BTME, but slightly different.”