About Us

Founder of Dunlop Tractor Spares, Bertie Dunlop started in business nearly 50 years ago. He said, “I took on my first agency in the late 1960′s which mainly involved selling parts to the agricultural community. Selling parts to the tractor enthusiast to restore or to keep his vintage or classic machine going started in the 1980′s but an awful lot has happened between then and now.”

Hart Engineering, eventually taken over by Birmingham Guild, manufactured sprayers, muck spreaders, transport boxes and many other lines painted in Fordson Major colours. Bertie had been using the equipment on his farm and contractnig business with much success, then when the local agent retired there was no Northern Ireland dealer for such a popular product. “I took over the Spare parts Sales Franchise”, said Bertie. “I guess from that point on I have always been a parts man. By popular request and I suppose demand from local farmers I started selling general goods and associated farm equipment. This led me to forming my own company called Teeshan Engineering Works, manufacturing farm equipment during the 1970′s.”

“In 1984 I sold the engineering business and purchased a filling station where I continued selling parts and expanded the retail side of the business soon after that a young bright local girl called Amanda, began to work for me after school and on Saturdays, looking after and sorting the spares department. I sold the filling station and moved the business to the present site at Ballymena in February 1998.”

Bertie became involved with Sparex selling parts for more modern machinery, but they did not have parts for the older tractors. “I influenced the buyer from Sparex regarding sourcing these types of parts; I sent fuel tanks, mud guards, tin work and some of the most requested components to Sparex to be copied and I was amazed at how quickly the business mushroomed.”

The Right Time

The vintage scene had developed far more quickly in England than here in Ireland. Dunlop Tractor Spares went onto the national scene in 1998; advertising heavily and promoting the company across Ireland and overseas. “I guess our firm got into the vintage / classic scene just at the right time as only one or two other companies were established in that market.”

“In 1978 we were manufacturing trailers but had no tractor to move the trailers around the yard; we simply pulled them around with a trolley jack. I was talking to a neighbour who said that we should get ourselves a tractor and that he had a 1952 Ferguson which I could buy. I made the purchase and wanted to tidy it up a little, but found it very difficult to source parts for the Ferguson. I guess this was the beginning and today we at Dunlop Tractor Spares are still looking for and sourcing parts that our customers require.”

Natural

Amanda started as a general store and shop helper at the filling station and when Dunlop Tractor Spares moved to Ballymena, she moved with them helping to setup the premises and new stores up. It was not long before Amanda was selling parts and virtually running the parts store herself.

Bertie said, “I never had to tell her the name of anything twice or what it was for. She was a natural. Amanda¬†left school in 1992 and came to work full time for me. The good thing was there was a life long connection with tractors as her father was a farmer.”

“The company stayed with the most popular makes that were both in use and finding favour with the enthusiast such as Ferguson, Massey Ferguson, Fordson, Ford, David Brown and Nuffield; parts for all these tractors were fast moving lines. However due to storage space and high delivery costs such items as tyres, hydraulic hoses, and wearing parts for ploughs were and still are not stocked, but the team can point a customer in the right direction. During the late 1990′s, Bertie realised he was not getting any younger and Amanda was quickly becoming key to the business. I suggested that she and husband John bought the business from me and we struck a dealwhich spanned a 5 year transition period. We had nown each other for many years, so there was a lot of trust betweem ourselves and today instead of Amanda working for me, I work for her.”

Working Well

On April 1st 2004, John and Amanda Ross took over DTS and were more than happy to carry on running the business as previously laid down, but they have since developed and expanded by investing in more and also new stock lines. In fact a range of items stocked has probably trebled.

John said, “I knew what the business involved as I had helped Amanda on numerous occasions but I firmly believe that it took me well over two years to know what was what, what stocked we carried and what part went where , for Amanda it just seemed so simple. Today we all work well together providing our customer base with a top notch service.”

The business has moved on, British made tractors from the 1950′s to the 1980′s are the company’s bread and butter, more so than American models such as Farmall, Case and John Deere, however if a customer asks for a part for any tractor, wherever it was built, Dunlop Tractor Spares will do their best to source it. Amanda said; “To stock most parts for most tractors would take a warehouse and parts department covering tens of acres and dozens of staff to control it; we know where to go to source parts and the best people who can help, that is the important thing, just trying means a lot to our customers and even if we are unable to help on one occasion, people will come back again and again for other items as they know we try and do our best.”

Written by Gina Harvey, Pictures by Peter D. Simpson

Originally published in Tractor & Farming Heritage Magazine.