1966: It was the year that England last won the World Cup, David Cameron was born and Nancy Sinatra’s ‘These Boots are Made for Walking’ was topping the charts. In the middle of Cornwall, Vincent Tractors was making the transition from a one-man-band tractor engineer in the back of a shed to a fully-fledged business. For Vincent Tractors, 2016 marks half a century at the heart of the Cornish farming community, as well as 50 years at the Royal Cornwall Show.
A family business if there ever was one, Vincent Tractors was initially established by a then twenty-something Ken Vincent from a tiny shed at Summercourt. Already an engineer with a strong reputation, his mixture of trade experience, instinct with an engine and natural charm quickly made him Cornwall’s go-to tractor engineer. Together with his wife, Esme, he was able to buy a site at Fraddon, where the company remains today.
In addition to hiring local mechanics to service machinery, Ken also chose to invest in new tractors. He approached the then largely unknown Zetor, buying up their two remaining tractors in Cornwall from a car forecourt in Camborne and moving them to his forecourt in Fraddon. It was the beginning of a partnership that was to last 35 years.
At the same time as taking on the Kubota range we also took on the Ifor Williams Trailer franchise. This partnership has continued for over 30 years, with large numbers and varieties of trailers being sold and serviced every year.
By the 1980s, Ken’s son, Paul, had returned to work with his father. It was during this time that Vincent’s took on the Deutz Fahr franchise, selling the machines in abundance, before temporarily switching to Massey Ferguson in 2000, due to supply problems with Zetor and Deutz. Within ten years, Deutz were back in their line up and after the extension of the showroom in 1999, Vincents were able to expand the Kubota ground care range.
Today, Paul, is behind the wheel at Vincent Tractors, guided by the same principle that the business was founded on: it doesn’t matter how many buttons a machine might have, it’s the quality of the service that keeps people coming back. For his part Ken shows few signs of slowing down. Now in his eighties, he is still working – although he now describes it as more of a hobby – he still holds a lorry driving licence and delivers machinery all over the county. He is philosophical about how the industry has changed over the years; “Our engineers grow with the technology, but they’re still going on courses, just like I used to do, in order to give the best service possible.”
With this in mind, and in the hope of making the next 50 years of Cornish engineering as successful as the last 50, Vincent Tractors are offering the Vincent Tractors Scholarship. It will be awarded to a student with a demonstrable passion for Land Based Engineering in order to allow them to pursue their studies at Duchy College. For more information on the Vincent Tractors Scholarship please visit www.vincenttractors.co.uk/scholarship
Paul acknowledges that none of this would have been possible without a very loyal team of employees, in particular Colin Freeman, Michael Wilton and Brian Cullis, who have cumulatively worked for Vincent Tractors for over 90 years.