Lely UK and The Toro Company recently celebrated two very important milestones – the 40th anniversary of Lely in the UK and the 25th anniversary of Lely’s distributorship of Toro turf maintenance machinery.
Lely first arrived in the UK in the late 1960s when its founder, John Hawkins, started distributing specialist agricultural machinery from Dutch parent company, the Lely Group, from humble headquarters in the town of St Neots in Cambridgeshire.
But John quickly outgrew the building he rented from local agricultural machinery dealer Arthur Ibbett Limited, which is still in existence today, and moved from the Great Paxton premises to the Station Road site the company continues to operate from to this day.
Keen to build on its agricultural achievements by broadening its product portfolio, Lely UK’s burgeoning team went on to establish the company’s hugely successful partnership with The Toro Company in the States in the 1980s.
Already renowned in the US and UK for the quality of its professional turf maintenance machinery and irrigation systems, the Toro brand began its domination of the amenity turf market in the UK and now counts some of the country’s top golf clubs and sports venues among its countless satisfied customers.
Since then Lely UK has added other quality names for UK distribution, including Toro Irrigation and Toro Consumer lawnmowers and garden equipment for homeowners, Otterbine aerating fountains and Yanmar compact tractors as well as all the while growing its agricultural offering.
As a result, the Lely UK of today has grown to a staff of over 120 and occupies ever-expanding premises on the Station Road site, including extensive offices and warehouses. More impressive still, Toro Commercial alone is now an acknowledged UK market-leader in turf maintenance machinery, with an extensive dealer network and average annual turnover in excess of £21 million.
To celebrate this catalogue of successes, Lely UK held a lavish anniversary dinner and dance for its staff at the Wyboston Lakes Hotel in Bedfordshire. Special guest Alexander van der Lely, CEO of the Lely Group in Holland – which also celebrated 60 years in business in 2008 – joined the celebrations, giving a speech on the special relationship between the two companies.
Enjoyed by all, the event had a ‘family feel’ characteristic of Lely UK – unusually, a vast proportion of its employees have been with the company for 20 years or more and have witnessed its evolution first-hand.
“Lely UK and Toro have stood the test of time and it is with enormous pride that we as a company celebrate these significant milestones,” comments managing director Graham Dale. “Our success is testament to the strength of the Lely team, many of whom have been with us for several years, as well as the positive partnership we have forged with The Toro Company, and so I would like to take this opportunity to thank them for their considerable contribution.
“However, we pride ourselves on being a forward-thinking company and, having taken this brief pause to pat ourselves on the backs for the past 40 and 25 years’ work, we now look to the challenges of the tough times ahead for all UK businesses with the confidence that these considerable achievements bring and aim to build even further on our success.”