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Hamilton Ross Group are leading suppliers of Agricultural, Construction, Garden Power, Groundcare and Forestry & Arb machinery and Animal Health products across Central Scotland.

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A Farmer’s Daughter Career Journey: Q&A with Jan Davidson, Area Sales Manager


Area Sales Manager Jan Davidson (née Sloan) has been with Hamilton Brothers for 13 years, based out of our Tarbolton depot. She first sold Animal Health products for 12 years, before moving on to Agricultural Machinery in 2022. She opened up about her background and the silver linings of pursuing a career in the farming industry for a female.

Jan Davidson when appointed Agricultural Area Sales Manager (2022)

  • What first attracted you to Hamilton Brothers?

Growing up a farmer’s daughter, I had a very active role on the farm, helping with lambings and calvings, and milking cows on a regular basis. I always knew I wanted to work in the agricultural industry, although I wasn’t really sure what path to go down. I worked in a job centre in the civil service for 11 years, but it wasn’t what I wanted to do. At that time, a family friend was working for Hamilton Brothers, and they told me a position had opened up in the Animal Health department. I came in for an interview, and I got offered the job.

  • Can you tell me more about your career progression?

I started doing Sales in Animal Health. Over the years, I’ve gained very good customer relationships. They know me well, and I know them very well. Last year, I got approached by Eric Gardiner (Managing Director) and Jim Steel (Sales Director) to see if I would be interested in moving over to Agricultural Machinery Sales.

There wasn’t really anybody in that role, in that area, and because it was an area that I knew, they wondered if I would be interested in making a very big change, selling something completely different from Animal Health. But, realistically, 80% of sales is knowing your customer. If you’re going up their roadend and they know your face, then you’re going to get a good reaction from them. So, I had a wee think about it and I thought, well, why not?

Lisa Rennie & Jan Davidson at the Animal Health market shop in the Craig Wilson Livestock Auctions Mart

  • What’s special about working for Hamilton Brothers?

It’s the people that you work with, the camaraderie. Tarbolton is a very close knit, everybody gets on so well. They’re not just colleagues to me, most are genuine great friends, and since I’ve been given the chance to work closely with colleagues from other depots, those friendships are now expanding.

Myself, I’ve been extremely supported by management throughout the years. I’m not scared to ask questions, and I know that management and colleagues are all here to help one another. We’re all supporters here.

“I’m not scared to ask questions, and I know that management and colleagues are all here to help one another.”

  • Was there anyone in particular who inspired you?

I do think Tommy Smith (Group Parts Manager) in here encouraged me, although all the staff at Tarbolton have been really supportive towards me. Because when I was asked to come into this role, it was very much a case of, as a female, can I do this? I definitely did get a lot of encouragement from Tommy, Jim and Eric, and they made it clear that the support would be there if I needed any specific training. Regarding management in the other depots, Sam Mercer and Brian Hamilton (Sales Managers), I always know I can lift the phone, ask questions and get help.

  • As a female in a male-dominant industry, what is your biggest challenge?

To be fair, when I started with the company 13 years ago, there wasn’t a lot of female sales reps in the industry. There were a handful, but that’s changed over the years. There’s a lot of females who’ve come into roles, maybe not so much in the agricultural machinery side of things, maybe more so for feeding and animal health.

But personally, I don’t feel as if I’ve been faced with any big challenges, because I’ve worked with the company for so long, and I have built up such a good relationship with all the customers. The best thing is that you get to know their families as well. You get to know the wives, the partners, the children… So it’s really good going on a farm and finding out how they’re all getting on.

Being a farmer’s daughter, being heavily involved in the New Cumnock Young Farmers, doing concerts and being the Ayrshire Rally Secretary as well, I’ve always been quite well known within the Ayrshire district. So going on farms, it was like, “Oh, here’s Jan coming”.

One thing that really annoys me, actually, is when folk ask if I need help carrying heavy stuff around. And I’m like, how dare you? I kind of get that it’s a gentleman thing and they’re being nice, but I wasn’t brought up a farmer’s daughter not having muscles. I can do this myself.

  • Does being female give you an advantage in some aspects?

Maybe customers, farmers, feel they can’t give you the wrath that they maybe would to a male. But I’ve never come across that. I think anybody that knows me, knows that I’m strong-headed and I’m very thick-skinned.

  • What is the range of machinery that you sell?

Primarily, I’m the Massey Ferguson AGCO rep, but I can sell other brands of agricultural machinery, such as JCB. It’s very varied, everything from second hand to new, from buckets for tractors up to very big tractors.

  • Was there a special sale that you want to talk about?

Within a month of being into this role, I sold a brand new Massey Ferguson 6718 tractor. I was very proud of myself for that.

  • What are you most proud of?

When I was younger, winning West Area Miss Young Farmer was a big achievement for me. In Ayshire, there used to be eight clubs, there’s now six. They organise a lot of competitions, and one of them is Miss Young Farmer. Basically, you get asked questions about how active you are in your club, and about yourself and what you’ve done in your life. The Ayrshire finalists get to compete at the West Area level, where you’ve also got Lanarkshire, Clyde & Central, Dumfries and Galloway… And yeah, I went and won it!

Also, working my way up through here. Getting my Animal Health qualifications, my trailer license, and getting a chance to do this job.

  • What is your favourite memory?

Within this role, probably being involved with the Massey Ferguson “Born to Farm” Event. I really enjoyed helping and being there, and seeing all the Massey Ferguson products on display and getting to showcase them to the customers.

Also, getting the chance to go to JCB’s headquarters at Rocester to test drive machines and do the museum tour – it was very interesting. As part of the visit, we went to one of their farms and their quarry to see demonstrations of machines, and we got a chance to drive them.

Massey Ferguson “Born to Farm” Event at the Donald Malcolm Heritage Centre in Linwood (2022)

  • Any funny anecdotes?

In over 10 years, I’ve never reversed out again of that car park. The last time I’d done it, I think I’d been here for a year, I reversed straight into a single-deck Stagecoach bus that was sitting at the bus stop and shattered the bus’s window. It was the 11 o’clock bus, and it was full of folk running errands, on their way to the shop.

Imagine them sitting, looking through that window, and watching me physically just drive out and reverse straight into them! They obviously had to wait for another bus to come and transfer all of them, because this bus couldn’t be driven in that state. That was very embarrassing, and some people like to remind me of that part where I’ve smashed into a bus…

There’ll be other things as well, happening on a daily basis. It’s just all fun. Every day is fun. It’s very weird, but I love my work, I do! My husband, Jon, he always says, I cannot believe you actually love getting up in the morning and going to your work.

“If you put your mind to it, you are capable of doing anything that you want, and being female doesn’t stop you from doing anything that you want.”

  • What is the best piece of advice that you’ve ever received?

Never think that you’re incapable of doing something. If you put your mind to it, you are capable of doing anything that you want, and being female doesn’t stop you from doing anything that you want. And don’t be scared to speak up and ask questions. No question is a silly question.

  • What are the skills necessary to be successful in this role?

You need to be thick-skinned in this industry. You need to be able to take jokes, take laughs and take a swear too. Don’t take offense, and don’t take things to heart. Also, customer contact is key. You need to be able to gauge when it’s the right time to approach farmers, not when they’re extremely busy for example. And if you do get a query, follow that on.

Christmas Jumper Day in Tarbolton: Jan Davidson, Garry McNeillie, Angela Henderson & Lisa Rennie (2022)

  • What would you say to someone who was thinking of applying to work for us?

Do it! There’s so many different roles, between office-based, sales, workshop, etc. And I’m prime example that you can go places. They’re willing to put the training into you, and let you grow within the company.

  • Do you have any hobbies?

Looking after an eight-year-old riot! More seriously, I do really enjoy going home to help Dad at the farm, who also is very proud of what I am doing. My eight-year-old daughter, Ella, absolutely loves the farm as well, so we enjoy going there at the weekends. I used to play a lot of netball when I was involved with the Young Farmers, but that was a long time ago.

Generally speaking, I love to get together with family and friends, and anyone who knows me well knows I fairly enjoy a wee Jack Daniels and Diet Pepsi!

  • If you were to win the lottery, what would you do?

Buy a small holding, a big house with some ground. I currently own my own home, but it’s in the town. I’d like to stay out in the countryside, and have some cows and sheep.

  • Do you have any regrets?

One of my biggest regrets, was that I didn’t do an exchange with the Young Farmers. Some of them is a week in Ireland, and other times it’s further afield, you could get a chance to go to India or Australia… I was hoping to go to Australia with another girl, but she pulled out and I didn’t go. Now I wish I had the confidence to just go and do it myself, because I would have met folk, but I didn’t.

  • Do you have any advice for young people interested in a career in farming?

Being involved with the Young Farmers is a great thing. There’s so many opportunities and things to do. You’ll have fun and meet new people.

  • What would be your last supper?

Mince and tatties, then a packet of pickled onion Space Raiders. I’m more of a savoury person, so no dessert.

  • If you could make a law that anyone has to abide by, what would it be?

Something food-related, obviously. That we should have a fat Friday every single week. There’s a café up the street, so sometimes on a Friday we all go there for chips, paninis, chicken burgers and cheeseburgers. I still have the note from the last one because some people owe me money!

  • What are your next goals?

Meeting my yearly targets, exceeding my yearly targets, gaining more experience and knowledge… And just making the company proud of me. Sorry if it sounds cheesy, but it’s true!

Get in touch with Jan Davidson via email at [email protected] to find out more about our Agricultural range of machines.

If you or someone you know has an interest in a career with the Hamilton Ross Group, please send your CV to [email protected] or visit our Indeed page.

Posted by Hamilton Ross Group

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