Less than a year ago the trade name “Weir-McNeice” meant little to Ulster’s farmers.
But today the names of two young Castledawson (County Derry) men, John Weir and Robert (Bertie) McNeice are coming more and more to the fore as manufacturing engineers.
And it was an interest in water ski-ing which brought the partners together in a business enterprise which has surpassed the expectations of the two “hopefuls” who started it.
In a way the firm ought not to have been launched. Neither man had any direct experience of engineering before joining forces – John was a machinery salesman and Bertie “tinkered” at repairing agricultural equipment – while the lack of capital would have deterred fainter hearts.
John Weir continues the story: “We became very friendly through our water ski-ing activities and decided to take the more serious plunge into an engineering business.
“Lack of capital was a major problem but by keeping investments down on premises and plant – and working a 15-hour day – we managed to survive the initial shocks.”
John added: “It is still a case of working from seven in the morning until 10 at night but the measure of success achieved so far has been a great encouragement.”
Slurry tanks and linkage loaders are the main items on the Weir-McNeice assembly lines which also incorporate a wide range of farm extras including pressure washers, swinging draw-bars and bale sledges. The manufacture of other farm mechanisation gadgetry is also undertaken on request.
The 575-gallon slurry tanker has proved a popular local success with the big breakthrough coming at the last Ballymena show when four models were sold. Orders jumped immediately and it is proposed to book twice as much space at the next Ballymena event.
The tanker, said by the manufacturers to have only half the devices of other popular makes, is basically simple but this takes nothing from the efficiency of its performance.
Having mastered the tanker field the partners turned increasingly to rear end loaders – “demand for these grows daily” they say – and the Linkage Loader, Long Reach and Standard at £69 and £62 10s respectively have retained their original popularity.
Now the firm has produced what is considered the best effort yet – again in the rear end loading line.