The machinery trade is a large industry and so it is no surprise that it is dominated by big names, brands that we are all familiar with, but there are also smaller companies like Cronin trailers making a valuable contribution.
Based almost on the coast in south east Cork, the company started off in 1984 when Joe Cronin applied his metalworking skills to repairs and fabrication for local farmers, having been laid off at the local dockyard.
A family business
At the time, any incoming work was appreciated but gradually joined he started specializing in trailers and over the years he was first by his brother, and then by his sons, Anthony and Eugene.
It is this second generation who are now running the business and they have consolidated and refocused it over the last couple of years to concentrate on farm trailers.
The strategy is paying off, with work stretching ahead into the autumn and a steady stream of orders from customers throughout Ireland, not just local farmers.
The Cronin name counts
The recent rocketing of steel prices does not appear to have affected trade to any great extent as having decided that a new trailer is warranted or required, farmers are prepared to pay the going rate.
This is, to a great extent, a matter of trust. There is an awareness that raw materials have risen steeply in price and so customers are relying on manufacturers to give them a fair deal.
Being a small company that is highly dependent on reputation and reliability, there has to exist an integrity that may not always be present in larger, less personal companies.
The brothers are keen to point out that their customers are dealing with the same people irrespective of whether they are making an enquiry or arranging delivery, the whole process, all the way through including fabrication, is conducted by themselves.
Individual spec of trailers
This personal attention to the end product ensures that no two trailers are the same. It is all about the detail stresses Anthony.
Despite the unique character of each trailer, they only have a handful of basic designs, the differences are in the details and finish of each item.
One of the most significant specifications is the colour. 10 years ago, when they were first asked to paint a trailer to match a tractor, it was thought a bit ‘odd’, but it has since become an essential part of the purchasing decision.
Another important aspect is choice of wheels, whether field or road orientated with wide spectrum of choice in between.
Lighting is another, as is the choice of hitch and braking systems. Hooks for ropes are no longer required; Instead, a deep flat bar for the attachment of ratchet straps is now the preferred option.
Cronin keeps it close
All the assembly work is done in-house. The number of component suppliers has also been streamlined with only those who are known to offer the latest good quality items being used.
Again, it’s a matter of trust. The brothers haven’t the time to chase 101 component suppliers so its a question of working with those they have found to be reliable over the years, although they are always keeping an eye on prices.
Depending on the model, making a trailer will take around 10-12 days. The job has been greatly simplified by narrowing the range of what they produce, meaning that there is a great deal less chasing around between a multitude of jobs.
Forward thinking farmers
Presently there is a six-month lead time for trailers. This has not proven to be the barrier to sales that it might have been in the past.
Like the position on price, farmers are thinking further ahead and with nearly all machinery being bespoke to some degree, especially tractors, there is an acceptance that items are no longer simply available from stock.
Sales don’t appear to be a problem, the annual attendance at the local machinery show keeps them in touch with local customers while one series of unrelated farm walks brought in several orders from who has seen the product in use.
Cronin Trailers is one of those small companies that beavers away in the background, not only suppling a quality product matched to farmers needs but also playing an active role in supporting the local economy.
Big names in the world machinery may have all the glitz and the glamor, but there are plenty of smaller players whose contribution is equally as valid and they go to support both Irish industry and agriculture.