Members of the Northern Ireland Guild of Agricultural Journalists thoroughly enjoyed a visit to the Johnston Gilpin & Co Ltd John Deere dealership near Lisburn.Organised by journalist Chris McCullough and Randal McConnell, managing director of Gilpins, the visit is thought to be the first ever machinery themed event for the Guild.
The visit was organised to coincide with the 50th anniversary of John Deere in the UK and Ireland.
Randal welcomed the group to the dealership on the Lisnoe Road just outside Lisburn in County Antrim and gave a presentation outlining its history and evolution.
The dealership dates back to 1968 when Randal’s father Donn started it off with some other investors.
Expansion of the business was soon to follow as John Deere equipment became very popular in Northern Ireland and two other depots were soon opened.
The Lisburn premises first started off on the Waterloo Road in Lisburn but a larger site was needed.
Randal joined the business in 1992 and two years later a move was on the cards to the current premises after selling the other two depots to their managers.
Johnston Gilpin & Co Ltd also operate a turfcare depot not far from the main base on the Saintfield Road where the huge range of John Deere merchandise is also available.
Guild members enjoyed a tour of the premises and were shown the latest tractors as well as the huge selection of spare parts in stock, workshops and showroom.
Refreshments were served but the highlight of the visit for many of the members present was being able to ‘drive’ a £125,000 195 horsepower John Deere 6195R.
What the members found out was that the tractor really drove itself as this model was fitted with JD Autotrac and is Greenstar ready meaning it was fully automatic.
The visit was wrapped up with a vote of thanks to Randal and his team for hosting a superb morning for the members of the guild.