Farmers across a large swathe of central and southern England will be bringing in their harvests once again this year, thanks in part to a growing fleet of Mercedes-Benz vans.
Oakes Bros, which sells and supports a wide range of new and used combines, tractors and farm machinery, is replacing its previous mobile service units with Medium-length Sprinter 313 CDIs supplied by Rygor.
The latest three arrivals from Britain’s largest Mercedes-Benz Commercial Vehicle Dealer Group have lined-up on the Oakes Bros fleet alongside the three Sprinters it commissioned a year ago, and its first two, which have been in service since 2013.
A main dealer for New Holland and JCB agricultural equipment, Oakes Bros operates from headquarters in Micheldever, Hampshire, and branches in East Ilsley, Berkshire, and Horsham, West Sussex.
The company, which can trace its roots back to 1825, supports its customers by providing a comprehensive portfolio of scheduled maintenance and round-the-clock emergency call-out services, backed by a well-stocked parts department.
“The agricultural industry is very seasonal, of course,” said Managing Director Edmund Lindley. “During the peak period, which extends from the end of July until early September, the farmers who use our machinery can be working flat out, seven days a week.
“They usually have approximately 22 days of harvesting time, during which every hour is critical. If a piece of equipment goes down the consequences for their business could be serious, so it’s imperative that we get them back up and working again as quickly as possible.”
Oakes Bros employs a team of 30 field engineers who between them cover Berkshire, Hampshire, Oxfordshire, Surrey, West Sussex and Wiltshire. The engineers take their vans home so that in the event of a night-time call they can ‘scramble’ as quickly as possible.
Key to the fuel-efficient Mercedes-Benz Sprinter’s appeal are its rugged reliability and a rear-wheel drive system that comes as standard and makes it ideally suited to operations on fields and in muddy yards; rear-wheel drive was a special order option on the vehicles that Oakes Bros was buying previously.
The vans are fitted with modular Tevo racking and carry an extensive stock of tools and spares. “We work our vehicles hard and make full use of the available payload,” affirmed Mr Lindley. “Mercedes-Benz is a quality brand with a strong image that can only reflect well on our own business, and an excellent reputation for the longevity and reliability of its products.
“The feedback from our field engineers has been entirely positive, not least because we’ve equipped their Sprinters with optional air conditioning, while it’s also reassuring that Mercedes-Benz leads the market in terms of safety.”
He continued: “Our policy is to run our vans for ten years so, as our oldest Sprinters have only been on the road since 2013, these are still relatively early days in our relationship with Mercedes-Benz and Rygor. It’s fair to say, though, that the vehicles have performed flawlessly so far, and we’ve every confidence that they’ll last the pace.”
Mr Lindley is equally impressed with Rygor. “I’m not the easiest man to deal with but Rygor’s sales executive Elena Eton copes with me very well,” he laughed. “She co-ordinates everything and provides regular progress updates, while our vehicles always arrive on time and as ordered, with any minor niggles very quickly sorted.
“The Sprinter also comes with long maintenance intervals, and Rygor’s own mobile technicians undertake routine servicing and any repairs at our depots, which minimises downtime for us and means we don’t lose chargeable hours. It’s an excellent, all-round package.”
Elena Eton added: “Oakes Bros customers benefit from top-quality machinery and highly responsive after sales support. That’s exactly what we at Rygor take pride in providing to our own customers.”