Article

Samco still growing strong 

Article first published in the Business Post on Sunday, 12 September 2021

The platinum winning Limerick agricultural firm, which pioneered a highly successful machine for growing maize, is building new facilities in Limerick, widening its product range and increasing production

Twenty-five years on from its launch, Limerick-based Samco Agricultural Manufacturing continues to go from strength to strength as one of the platinum winners of this year’s Best Managed Companies awards programme.

Samco completed the second phase of a new purpose-built facility in Adare in Co Limerick, in October 2019, allowing the company to widen its product range and increase production capacity to meet demand.

“The extra space and new specialised equipment has reduced production and project times so that we now have capacity to run several projects side-by-side
during development,” Robert Shine, Samco’s managing director, said.

“This has also allowed us to work with other outside-sourced R&D projects, widening the range of sectors we supply and allowing us to extend our expertise and experience to new areas of the industry.” Rising demand from customers in different sectors has also prompted Samco to invest in new machinery.

“An increase in demand for our compostable mulch films in both industry and agriculture was the main reason for investing at the end of last year in another high capacity extruder based in Adare,” Shine said. “The machine was commissioned during Covid and allowed us to meet orders more quickly. It also opened new opportunities in the export market for our mulch film.”

Samco was established in 1996 by Shine’s father Samuel (who is still involved in the business today) to make and market a new machine for maize-growing farmers. At the time, Samuel was dairy farming and running an agricultural contracting service, giving him first-hand experience of the problems facing maize-growers inIrish agriculture at the time.

“Samco came about due to the cool weather in Ireland, whichmakes it difficult for maize to mature to its potential consistently. Farmers wanted to grow the crop to reduce the imports of maize grain from overseas,” Robert Shine said.

The three-in-one Samco machine his father designed in response had the capacity to sow maize seed while also spraying the soil with pre-emergence herbicide, and laying a thin coating of degradable mulch film over the seedbed for maize crops.

“This protected the young plants from late frost and increased the soil temperature, thereby maximising yield per hectare for the Irish weather, which was not suitable to maximise the yield potentialof the maize,” he said.

In the years since, the original Samco machine has been adapted for other crops, including sunflowers, sorghum, soya, beet, rice, cotton and different types of vegetable. Samco also offers an advisory service to crop farmers through its well-educated and experienced agronomy team, helping them to determine the most suitable types of degradable mulch film to improve yields for different crops.

The company designs and makes the degradable mulch film for its own machines and carries out trials every year, so that the Samcosystem can be improved on an ongoing basis to help farmers achieve higher yields.

Samco remains a family enterprise, with Robert Shine running the business alongside his brother Matthew and sister Stephanie. Their other two siblings, Gordon and Derrick, tend to ancillary businesses within the Samco fold. The business employs 50 people directly and supports more jobs indirectly through suppliers.

“While we are based in Adare, 75 per cent of our turnover is export- based to countries in Europe as well as the Americas and Asia. This has allowed us to bring experience from one region to another,” Shine said.

“The experience gained is invaluable and it is the reason we can offer new products and run R&D projects with short turnaround times. This, coupled with our short route-to-market approach, means that we have a lot of direct contact with our end-users, which allowsus to draw on their experience.”Samco Agricultural Manufacturing has remained operational throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We were deemed essential in the agri-sector, so we stayed open for emergency work and worked remotely to offer support to customers in the field,” Shine said.

“Long-term equipment service and support on the ground was also needed, so we have carried out some overseas work. But we have to return in the same way to the service we were able to offer our overseas customers before this.”To assist with the national Covid-19 response effort, Samco invested in equipment to produce single-use PE aprons here in Ireland. “We have now also started to produce compostable aprons for the market,” Shine said.

Samco is one of 12 companies from around the country to be recognised in the Platinum category of Ireland’s Best Managed Companies awards programme this year. All have succeeded in demonstrating superior performance in the awards programme for seven years running.

“Being involved in Ireland’s Best Managed Companies awards programme has allowed our suppliers and customers, nationallyand internationally, to see that they are dealing with a company that strives to be the best at what it does,” Shine said.

“For the staff in the company, knowing that they are part of the team that has achieved this consistently over a number of years shows that the way we work in our company is recognised to be the best.”

This article first featured in the Business Post on Sunday, 12 September.

Applications for next year’s programme will open in January 2022. For more information about the programme, visit our website or email the team at iebmc@deloitte.ie.

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