Ballymoney company a cut above the competition

Invest Northern Ireland has helped Ballymoney company Groundsman Industries achieve export success with a ground-breaking product developed in a £250,000 investment.

Invest NI offered around £80,000 of research and development support to Groundsman Industries for the development of its range of innovative turf cutting machines and associated attachments.

Following the market launch of the turf cutters three years ago, over 80% of the company’s sales are now outside Northern Ireland, with significant orders secured from Great Britain, mainland Europe and as far away as Australia, Israel and Libya. The machines now account for over 30% of Groundsman Industries’ total turnover.

The turf cutters incorporate unique, patented technologies and can perform a wide variety of functions, from extracting strips of turf for rolling and relocating, to laying cables or irrigation pipes beneath the grass surface. The innovative products have a broad range of landscape applications and are primarily aimed at those who maintain extensive grounds and turf sports surfaces, such as golf courses, football grounds and cricket pitches.

Proprietor and General Manager of Groundsman Industries Billy Warke says that the turf cutter has opened up previously untapped markets: “We had already had significant success with our turf aerator products in Great Britain and Republic of Ireland, including contracts with major sporting bodies such as the All England Lawn Tennis Club and the England and Wales Cricket Board, but had failed to fully penetrate markets further afield.

“With Invest NI’s support we developed the turf cutters and attachments which, due to their versatility and ease of use compared with other turf cutting products on the market, have enabled us to target a wider range of customers.”

He added: “We have also increased our sales through a growing network of overseas distributors and dealerships who have agreed to stock the turf cutters. This has been a major boost to both our bottom line and our reputation and has helped us to attract significant international clients such as the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.”

John Thompson, Invest NI’s Director of Innovation, Research and Technology, said: “In an ever more competitive global marketplace, it is essential that Northern Ireland companies continue to gain advantage through innovation and intelligent product development.

“Groundsman Industries has done this, growing its external sales by constantly looking at ways to expand its product range and improve functionality, ultimately maintaining the company’s edge over the competition.”