Mearns co-op lands top farming award

Graham Bruce, second left, with other award recipients
Graham Bruce, second left, with other award recipients

The driving force behind the success of what is now the UK’s largest machinery ring, Laurencekirk-based Ringlink, is this year’s recipient of the prestigious Royal Northern Agricultural Society award for outstanding service to the North-east sector.

The co-op’s managing director Graham Bruce will be presented with the coveted honour at the society’s annual awards to be held in Aberdeen on Friday, November 2.

Mr Bruce was appointed managing director of Angus and Mearns Machinery ring when it was formed in 1988.

Operating from his kitchen table initially, he has steered the business from a first-year turnover of £175,000 and a loss of £6000 - the only loss it has ever recorded - with 140 members to a £50 million business with 2800 members.

A total of 38 staff are now employed operating from the purpose-built Cargill Centre – named after founder chairman, the late Douglas Cargill – at Laurencekirk, and satellite offices at Elgin, Oldmeldrum and Couper Angus.

Ringlink was formed in 1998 following the merger with the North-east ring and the Gordon and Buchan ring joined in 2004.

The emphasis in the early days was on the sharing of farm machinery and labour to utilise spare machinery and labour capacity.

But this initial concept, while still an important part of the business, has been eclipsed by the dramatic growth of a diverse range of services.

A major focus over the past five years has been the development of a high successful internship scheme designed to attract youngsters into farming which has now been officially recognised as a pre-apprenticeship scheme.

The citation supporting Mr Bruce’s nomination states: “Without a shadow of doubt, Graham has made an outstanding contribution to the industry and it seems only fitting that his exemplary efforts should be recognised as Ringlink celebrates 30 successful years in business.”