32 years ago, in 1987, a ground-breaking farmers co-operative was born in the Scottish Borders.
Borders Machinery Ring (BMR), which was the first machinery ring to be established anywhere on the British Isles has subsequently grown into a £7M turnover business with over 1050 members.
BMR was formed thanks to the ingenuity of Melrose farmer and contractor Alastair Cranston. Alastair had been intrigued by a conference presentation on the subject which focussed on Germany, where there were 260 machinery rings in operation at the time.
With the help of SAOS, Alastair brought the machinery ring idea to the borders, where although farmers were initially sceptical of the concept, BMR was established with 23 founder members.
Membership continues to grow, and the ring recently moved to new office premises in Earlston which were purchased in 2016, providing a comfortable, modern workplace for staff which is central to the membership.
The new building also has excellent meeting and training facilities, meaning most of BMR training courses can now be held in house.
32 years ago, most work involved matching the demands of farmers with for example a broken-down combine, with neighbours who had finished their own harvest and could lend a hand. Pooling and sharing of farm machinery is still a core function of BMR, however, other aspects of the business, including fuel supply, utilities, labour and training provision now increasingly provide a significant share of BMR turnover.
Nowadays BMR staff are just as likely to be taking calls from a hotelier, haulier or even a private house holder looking to purchase their fuel or other supplies through the Ring and take advantage of the pooled buying power.
An interesting example of a non-farming member benefiting from their BMR membership is a joiner who recently saved 35% on the purchase price of his new Toyota van thanks to the fleet discount deals BMR have negotiated directly with Toyota.
The work of BMR in the late 1980’s very quickly provided a blueprint for the formation of machinery rings in other areas of Scotland and indeed the UK. The 9 Scottish Machinery Rings now cover the majority of Scotland and between them benefit over 7,000 members – all thanks to the pioneering efforts of Borders Machinery Ring.