Aspatria Farmers is making a £650,000 investment in new premises for its dairy engineering services business MTS in Longtown.
The farmer-owned co-operative, which will celebrate 150 years in business next year (2020), bought MTS Dairy Services in 2015.
Since then MTS business has grown to provide dairy and electrical services on more than 350 of the co-op’s members’ farms on both sides of the Border as distributors for Dairymaster and Fullwood parlours and equipment – outgrowing its premises on Longtown’s Borders Business Park. MTS Dairy Services now employs 14 people led by Tim Summerfield.
Aspatria Farmers has bought a one acre site adjacent to the current premises on the business park from neighbours, construction and civil engineering company R H Irving Construction who are also carrying out the building work on the new 9,000 square foot development.
The new building, which includes a workshop, parts and spares store, general product storage area and a trade counter together with office accommodation and meeting rooms, will enable Aspatria Farmers to re-locate towards the end of this year.
Aspatria Farmers chairman William Graham said: “Over the last 18 months we have looked across the county at a wide range of possibilities for relocating our MTS dairy engineering business, but all had either high rents, were too small, or were not fitted out in a way that works for our business.
“After a chance meeting, our neighbours R H Irving Construction agreed to sell us the land next to our current store and committed to build us a custom-built premises, to our design, on the site.”
Aspatria Farmers has secured a £180,000 DEFRA Rural Development Grant for the project.
The Longtown base is central for serving the dairy farming customer base that stretches from Dumfries and Brampton in the north, to Cockermouth and to Appleby in the south with the Aspatria and Plumpton stores also now carrying more dairy parts and spares.
Aspatria Farmers chief executive Tim Wilson, said: “It is crucial for our dairy farming members that we invest in the best facilities to service our member base in the future and in doing so we ensure that our engineers have a safe and professional environment which encourages them to keep their skills in agriculture.
“In buying the site, the new build is giving us the opportunity to invest in an asset for the future and with the main funding coming from our bank we are not asking members to help fund it or dip into our reserves,” he added
Hylton Irving, managing director of R H Irving Construction, said: “We have worked in very close partnership with Aspatria Farmers over many months to develop and agree the details of the project and I am delighted that we have now started construction work.
“The project is good news for the local economy, supporting local jobs within R H Irving Construction and our locally-based supply chain, as well as providing Aspatria Farmers with fantastic new premises to support their ongoing growth.”
“From our own experience, we know that Longtown and Borders Business Park is a superb location for businesses with easy access to all main transport routes whilst offering attractive rural setting and excellent value for money.”
As a new facility, the Aspatria Farmers store will be built to the latest standards regarding cladding and insulation and the plan is to run the building’s heating and hot water on electrical systems powered by a solar array.