Hailing from a small beef holding in Castlerea, Co Roscommon, Kevin Igoe’s passion for agricultural engineering began in secondary school, with Kevin telling Irish Country Living, “Agricultural science and agricultural engineering were my two favourite subjects.”
Over the years in secondary school, the home farm and working for local contractors Kevin’s passion, interest and enthusiasm for agricultural engineering prospered, leading him to apply for the Level 8 four-year honours degree in agricultural engineering in IT Tralee, Co Kerry.
Beginning the degree in 2015 and finishing in 2019 with first class honours, Kevin enjoyed every minute of his education.
“I’d do it all again in a heartbeat,” he says.
The degree consisted of various modules with a work placement during year three of the course (which lasted approximately nine months). However, to help gain as much experience as possible, Kevin decided to complete an early placement during the summer of 2017 for three months with Tanco Autowrap Limited based in Bagenalstown, Co Carlow.
At this time, Tanco were in the midst of developing new 30ft mowing implements to be used around the country, and indeed worldwide, during silage season. Commenting on this Kevin adds: “I thought it would be a good opportunity to gain valuable industry experience and to set myself apart from other students.”
It was a satisfactory feeling to witness all changes, and seeing the end product going to market that season
Returning to Tanco again for placement in January of 2018, Kevin found himself working within the research and development side of the mowers project, where he was involved with modifying and testing the machines in various situations.
“It was a satisfactory feeling to witness all changes, and seeing the end product going to market that season,” he says.
In addition, Kevin got the experience of working within the service support department.
This role involved servicing, repairing and introducing new Tanco products to customers, and he felt extremely fortunate to be able to travel across Ireland, the UK, Spain and Austria.
“It was the highlight of my placement,” he comments. “However, my previous three months’ experience was crucial to obtaining the role.”
Gaining valuable contacts during placement
Working with Tanco, Kevin made vaulable contacts throughout the industry.
“I was communicating with a lot of different suppliers across Ireland – and indeed further afield – who I established great relationships with,” he explains. “I also developed great contacts during my time at college, which are proving invaluable to me now.”
Birth of a business
After finishing college in 2019, Kevin returned to work for Tanco on the machinery demonstrating side of the business.
“I have always enjoyed the to and fro of dealing with customers, getting to know new people every day, selling high-quality products and witnessing customers being satisfied with their purchases,” he says.
Kevin established Igoe Agri & Engineering Limited in February, 2020 – while still working full time with Tanco.
As the business began to rapidly grow, however, time became of the essence and Kevin left Tanco (in November of that same year) to focus on his business full time.
“It was now or never to make the business successful,” he says.
What does the business offer?
Igoe Agri & Engineering Limited offers a variety of products, including agricultural tools and equipment, lubricants for different types of machinery, small farm implements, hydraulic hose pipe repairs, light machinery repairs and valeting products, servicing kits, workwear, PPE and many other products are available.
The business offers local delivery along with an out of hours service and provides customers with the most competitive prices for the products available. All products can also be purchased online and delivered to your door the next day.
Looking to the future
Kevin has outline his business goals within a five-year plan. He plans to sell feed implements and bale handlers while expanding the parts, tools and machinery side of the business.
He hopes to employ two or three staff as his customer base increases.
What advice would you give to anyone coming out of college wanting to start their own business?
“Start off small,” he says. “Don’t invest huge capital at the beginning. Be patient, don’t rush into anything and think carefully before you commit to something.”
What has been the biggest obstacle you’ve encountered starting your business?
“Knowing who to call to source items – particularly on the retail side of things,” he explains.
“It took me a considerable amount of time to build up my contacts to enable me to source quality products at the right price to offer my customers the best value for money.
“I was lucky enough to have some good friends already in this area of retail and that helping me establish contacts- cut this part too if needed.
Would you have done anything differently during college?
“I would of gone searching for experience from the beginning of the degree – the more experience and contacts you have is the key to a successful career.”
“It’s not easy starting your own business, especially in rural parts of the country where there is limited infrastructure.
“There will always be days when you question the motive behind it all, but I always look back on the previous year to see how far the business has progressed to help keep me motivated.
“Not every day is plain sailing.”