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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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Teamwork & Development: Q&A with Brian Hamilton, Valtra Brand Manager

 

Brian Hamilton, Valtra Brand Manager, has been with the Hamilton Ross Group for the past nine years. Now based at our R&R Machinery depot in Lanark, he is responsible for promoting the Valtra brand across the Central Belt. We spoke to him about his career progression, the pride he takes in selling Valtra machinery, and the value of effective teamwork.

Career Progression

  • How long have you been working for the Hamilton Ross Group?

Almost nine years to the day. I joined on the 1st of August 2014.

  • What first attracted you to working here?

Before I joined the company, I’d spent a bit of time on the DLDP (Dealer Leadership Development Programme) course at AGCO with Eric Gardiner (Managing Director). The position I was in was coming to an end, and Eric approached me and asked if I would be interested in joining the company to develop and introduce the Valtra brand to Hamilton Brothers and Ross of Lanark.

  • Can you tell us about your career progression?

I started serving my time in 1977 as an Agricultural Engineer in Lanark, and there I spent 10 years in the same place before moving on. There, I was Service Engineer for five years. After that, I worked up my way up through a couple of different jobs, including aftersales, before eventually moving into sales. I’ve been in sales since I was about 32 years old. Before I joined the Hamilton Ross Group, I had been in a similar position for 21 years, working for an AGCO dealership, selling Valtra and potato machinery.

  • Do you have a background in farming?

I didn’t grow up on a farm. My brother-in-law has a family farm, which we have to help out on quite a bit from time to time. It’s a mixed farm, with sheep, cattle, and a fair bit of arable, in the Stirling area.

  • How has your role evolved since you joined?

When I first joined the company, I came in to promote and to introduce the Valtra brand to the company and get that up and running. And as time has moved on, I’ve joined the Senior Management team and the role has developed from there.

Brian Hamilton (right) visiting his customer John M. Brown (left) on his farm (2023)

  • Can you tell us more about what that entailed – introducing the Valtra brand?

Historically, the company was Massey Ferguson only. Eric had been approached by Valtra, and he had been talking to them for a while, so he covered all the paperwork side. It took a bit of setting up initially between all the depots, because we had all the parts, service and warranty to do. I probably was the only one that had much experience with the Valtra brand, none of the reps had really worked with it before. For about 18 months to two years, I tended to be all over the country, making sure the reps were up to speed, helping them promote the brand, and helping them with any sales deals or inquiries that they had, because I had more product knowledge.

  • What do you like about the Valtra brand?

The Valtra brand has been synonymous for a lot of years with the forestry industry, and in recent years has moved into the agricultural market, with its market share doubling in Scotland over the last 10 years. It has been seen as being a very reliable brand, and it’s a bit unique, in the sense that you can build your own tractor to your own specifications. “Build Your Own” has always been Valtra’s motto. I’ve been to Finland six or seven times now – I’ve visited the engine plant, I’ve visited the production factory where they do a lot of customer trips, which is a tremendous thing to do. If you can get a customer on a trip, that usually just makes their mind up for them. It’s also a very sociable trip.

  • What’s a typical day in your role?

As Valtra Brand Manager for the group, I’m supporting all depots and staff on the Valtra brand. Our Valtra Sales Area Managers all have received brand-specific training, even though it’s been more difficult in the past couple years because of COVID to have them in-person.

Other than that, the first thing to do is to check in with the sales team, and determine what their needs are – if we need to order any equipment to fulfill any sales or restock – to discuss any deals on the go that we need to clarify, and offer any help to finalize a deal. We also have to make sure that we’ve got demos, and movements of machines between depots arranged. And then I try and get out on the road myself and do a bit of selling.

  • You have your own team – what do you like about managing people?

The company is all about people. We need people to make the job work, and I think you’ve got to gain the trust and the respect of all work colleagues. The team that we have here at Lanark get on well. We learn from any mistakes and are able to solve problems that may occur.

  • What is the secret to successful teamwork?

I like to see people working and being happy in the workplace. If people have got a happy working environment, and they get on well with each other, this creates a favourable workplace.

Changing Times

  • What changes have you witnessed in the company since you joined?

When I joined, there was Hamilton Brothers – which had depots in Bishopton, Tarbolton and Campbeltown – and Ross of Lanark was the other company that they owned. In 2016, they had the opportunity to expand, and they bought over the G Reekie Group. That entailed a lot of work before the purchase went through, and that’s the biggest change that I’ve seen in the last nine years.

  • How do you think the acquisition has impacted the company?

Since taking over the G Reekie Group, it has opened up the chance to sell to the arable sector, which compliments the livestock sector, previously our main market.

  • Has the introduction of the Fendt brand affected the sales of Valtra tractors?

The Fendt is known as a premium brand, but it’s not really affected the sale of the Valtra tractors. When we gained the Fendt brand as part of the G Reekie Group, we’d already been selling Valtra for two years.

  • What do you see as the future of the company?

I think that the future of the company is more secure, now that there is a line of succession. A lot of companies have not had this, and it has been to their detriment. I think that’s up to us, as senior managers and senior staff, to make sure that we plan accordingly for the future, bringing in a fresh team who are competent and able to continue taking the company forward.

  • What do you see as the future of farming?

Farming will always be required, because people need to eat food. It went through some turbulent times with what’s happened in recent years, but we will always need farmers.

  • How do you think technology has changed the way that farms work?

Technology is a huge step forward in the whole industry. We have robotic milking parlours, and there is even talk of autonomous tractors.

Brian Hamilton with Willie Parker, Agricultural Engineer, in our Lanark workshop (2023)

Getting Personal

  • What’s your favourite thing about working for the Hamilton Ross Group?

I think, to be fair, I’ve been very much left to my own devices. Eric’s been my line manager for nine years now, and we talk on a regular basis, and I always ask for his permission if anything’s in doubt, but on a daily basis, it’s really up to me what I do, where I go and what I’m doing.

  • What’s your favourite memory?

I’d only been with the company for two months, when myself, Eric and Jim Steel (Sales Director) worked until eight o’clock one Saturday night to get an order for 30 tractors, which we got at the finish-up. The order was worth over a million pounds, and it was really a team effort that sealed the deal. And I think that stuck in my mind, because I knew then that I was part of a team.

  • What are you most proud of?

I’m quite proud of the fact that the Valtra brand has been successful since its introduction, and that it’s added value to the company.

  • Do you have any funny anecdotes?

We had a little guy, Alistair, about five feet, who was put onto sales in our early days. Because he was still quite new in the role, I was tasked to accompany him to visit a customer in Mull, who was thinking of buying a new Valtra tractor. When we got to the farm, as Alistair walked into the office, the customer said, “Oh, you look like a nice young guy, I think I’m going to have some fun with you”, thinking he would be easy to manipulate. But then to his surprise, five seconds later, I walked in the room! I will always remember Alistair standing laughing in the doorway, and the two of us laughed about it on the boat all the way home that night. We actually got the order for the tractor the next morning.

  • Is there someone who has inspired you along your career?

My father. He was in the same line of industry as me all his life, and when I started out I had to serve my time in the same place as him. A lot of people thought that would be easy, but it was actually very difficult, because I got treated a lot harder than any other staff did. At that time, I thought he was quite sore on me, but when I look back now, I understand why he did it, and I’m grateful for it, because it gave me the grounding that I’ve got today.

  • What are your next goals?

I think to sell more machinery, while making sure we are doing our job as professionally as possible, and that we present ourselves as professionally as possible.

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

Sell yourself, sell your product, and then speak money.

  • What would you do if you won the lottery?

I would share it out with my family, but I wouldn’t stop working. In 36 years of marriage, I’ve never spent a whole day with my wife, and I think if we tried to do it now, we’d end up fighting like cat and dog! I think you need to have a purpose each day when you get up, and to stop working and sit at home and do nothing is just not an option. I’ve never regretted what I do. Sometimes you need to take a break and go on a holiday, but as far as I’m concerned, I enjoy getting up each day and going to work.

  • Do you have any hobbies?

I do enjoy a little bit of photography, and a little bit of drone work. Recently, I was at my nephew and my niece’s farm, and we managed to do some stills of their farm from above, and take aerial pictures.

 

Get in touch with your local R&R Machinery depot (Lanark, Cupar) to find out how you can order your own Valtra machine.

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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