Seeing the wood for the trees
Chapmanslade-based Mendip Mowers, which services, repairs and sells Honda and Stihl garden machinery, has been established for 30 years. This year, for the first time, it is supporting the Frome Show through sponsorship, as Jeanette Brake explains
How long have you had links with the Frome Show?
Andy, my husband, and I have grown up with the show, going along as kids with our parents who are both in farming. We would always make a beeline to the businesses which our fathers had bought from throughout the year, saying hello to the reps. In return we would usually receive a free drink and a snack. I used to enter the handicraft competitions. I won first prize for my victoria sandwich one year. Our children have gone on to enter sections since and my mum helps to steward in the marquee too.
In what ways have you been involved with the show over the years?
On our first stand a few years ago Andy made children’s sit on toys from wood and did demonstrations with his chainsaw, crafting children’s chairs, toadstools, etc, from tree trunks. Andy has also helped to tidy the West Woodlands site, pruning trees and removing dead ones. In 2011, the year we took over Mendip Mowers, we added garden machinery too. These days, as Mendip Mowers is our main business, we are no longer having a stand but we are supporting the show through sponsorship of the horticulture section. This way we are still advertising Mendip Mowers and Newlands Tree Care, but we will have a little more time to enjoy the show.
What are your favourite elements of the Frome Cheese Show?
Andy’s favourite would be the farm machinery, fodder and grain and gun dog training. Mine would be cattle, crafts and fine foods.
Tell us about the history of Mendip Mowers
We bought Mendip Mowers in 2011 when the partnership with Andy’s brother and parents dissolved in the family farm. Mendip Mowers was where Andy always bought his Stihl machines and parts for our other business, Newlands Tree Care. One day he was picking up a Stihl machine that had been repaired and the owner asked Andy if he would like to buy the business as he was reaching retirement age. As we were going through a huge life change anyway by leaving the farm, and we knew that Newlands Tree Care wouldn’t bring in enough money to live on, we decided to go for it.
It wasn’t a simple take over, though, for as well as Stihl, Mendip Mowers had the authorised Honda franchise for Frome, Warminster, Bradford on Avon, Trowbridge and Bradford on Avon in lawn and garden machinery. We had numerous interviews with Honda and after months of waiting we heard that we had been accepted so we carried on and bought Mendip Mowers with over 1,000 Honda customers.Andy and I now work together. He is based in the workshop servicing and repairing chainsaws, hedge trimmers, brushcutters, lawn mowers, generators and much more. I see to all the accounts and we both do the sales of Honda and Stihl, plus we are now dealers for Billy Goat and Cobra garden machinery.
What prompted you to purchase the company?
Andy gained mechanical knowledge from studying at agricultural college, but he also went on Honda training days because it was something that interested him. The previous owner of Mendip Mowers worked with us for a year so we could carry on the well-established business.
What else does Andy do?
Andy passed his arboriculture exams at Lackham College. Once he had the qualifications he needed to become a tree surgeon, he founded Newlands Tree Care, which brought in extra income to the farming business. It started off with him working only one day a week on arboriculture, but he eventually went full time.