Ben Burgess
Meet our team

Charlie Oldfield - Used & Export Machinery Salesman

I grew up in a small north Norfolk village. I’m not from a farming background and therefore hadn’t really considered a career in the agricultural industry throughout my school years.

I studied business and finance at Norwich City College and then decided to go travelling in Australia for a year. On my return, I needed to start thinking about the future and the direction I wanted to be heading in. There was a junior parts person role being advertised at Ben Burgess Aylsham. It was very local to me and I knew of the company, even if I didn’t know much about farming. I was fully trained and gained knowledge in the parts department for a large range of different equipment, including John Deere tractors and lawn mowers, and Grimme potato equipment.

After almost a year, a trainee sales person/hire assistant position became available at Ben Burgess Norwich. I felt I was ready to progress and was successful in gaining the role. Working in the hire department has helped me massively and my machinery knowledge is getting better and better, not just with tractors but also diggers, telehandlers and combine harvesters. Although I was part of the hire team, I was working within the sales office and after a short time, got to go out in the field on demonstrations and with the area salesmen to meet customers. When I was in the sales office, I began making a few UK and export sales, just from picking up the calls coming in. This made me realise how much I enjoyed selling and being part of this industry and I therefore knew this was the direction I wanted to head in. After two years training and shadowing other salesmen, I now work alongside the sales and export manager, learning second hand valuations and selling across the UK and worldwide.

Phil Debenham - Greencrop Service Engineer

Having grown up as the son of a large livestock haulier and grandson of a pig/arable farmer, my first thoughts of a career were to follow in the footsteps of my father or grandfather. They had other ideas, however, and wanted me to learn a trade! With my love of agriculture, working at Ben Burgess provided the ideal job.

After finishing school, I started work in July 2004 by beginning my apprenticeship and I attended Brooksby College for 3 years, studying for my NVQ Level 2 and 3 in Agricultural Engineering and Welding. During my time at Brooksby, I won Apprentice of the Year two years in a row. I served the majority of my apprenticeship working on combine harvesters, something I still work on today.

After being with Ben Burgess for around nine years, the company joined the Land Based Technician Accreditation scheme, allowing me to work my way up to LTA Level 3. This meant visiting John Deere UK for a verbal exam and attending John Deere training courses.

After being with the company for around 11 years, I was given my current role of Greencrop UK Service Engineer. Greencrop is a sister-company of Ben Burgess and we sell, hire, service and demonstrate a full range of slurry and irrigation equipment. This ranges from irrigators, water and slurry pumps, slurry tankers, mixers and anaerobic digester separators. In the future, I hope to progress higher within Greencrop, perhaps into more of a technical sales role, incorporating my engineering skills with sales.

Click here to listen to Phil talk about his journey from being an apprentice to becoming a fully qualified service engineer.

Justin Gooderson - Service Manager

I come from a farming background with the family farm, originally started by my late Grandad, run by my Uncles. Having grown up only a short distance from the farm, I was able to watch the activity of the tractors and machinery on a daily basis and grew an interest in agriculture from a very young age. This, together with a keen interest in engineering and ‘how do things work?’, I decided that a career in the agricultural machinery industry would be one that I would pursue.

In my final year of GCSEs, I wrote to all my local agricultural machinery dealers seeking an apprenticeship to begin when my exams were over. I received a letter back from my local John Deere dealer at the time, asking me to attend an interview and a few weeks later I accepted their offer of a 4 year apprenticeship scheme.

During my apprenticeship, I attended the Norfolk College of Arts and Technology in King’s Lynn on a block release basis, whilst also learning the basic skills and gaining valuable experience by working with trained technicians carrying out repairs and servicing back at the depot. After successfully gaining the qualification of a modern apprenticeship, I was given my own service van and began travelling out on my own to farms carrying out repairs, whilst also furthering my training at John Deere in Nottingham.

When my dealership announced it was closing, I applied for an Agricultural Service Technician role at Ben Burgess Aylsham and successfully gained the job. I enjoyed working at the Aylsham depot for a total of 14 years. During that time, I worked my way up the ladder in the workshop before becoming second-in-command to the Service Manager, which brought the responsibility of running the workshop whilst he was away. I gained the qualifications of LTA 4 Master Technician and AMS Specialist, and also became a member of both the Engineering Council and the Institute of Agricultural Engineers, which allows me to add the letters ‘Eng Tech MIAgrE’ after my name.

When the opportunity arose within Ben Burgess, I decided to apply for my current position, Service Manager, at our Beeston depot. I currently manage the service department and have recently just acquired the qualification of LTA Department Professional with John Deere.

Hollie Cruickshank - Group Marketing Manager

I have worked since the age of 13, helping out in the family hairdressing business. Having always been creative, I was a keen artist throughout high school. I studied Graphic Design for two years at Norwich City College and left with a BTEC Diploma. I then decided to take a break by travelling to Australia for three months.

On my return, I was fortunate enough to land a role in events organisation for an accountancy firm in the city centre. After 18 months, I took on the role of Marketing Assistant at the same firm and worked with the marketing team to increase brand awareness, organise business events, strengthen existing client relationships and ultimately, explore new ways to win more business.

After almost four years, I joined Ben Burgess as Marketing Assistant. I didn’t know much about agriculture, construction or grounds care but it was a challenge that I’d craved for some time. The first few months were spent learning about machinery, getting to know my colleagues and centralising marketing activity across the Ben Burgess Group.

Within 18 months of joining, I was part of the team that organised the Ben Burgess 80th Anniversary Show and the team that introduced a brand new website to the company. Keeping this up to date, advert design, press releases, CRM system support, demonstration photography and social media management were just a few of my day-to-day tasks.

Our audience is worldwide as we export used machinery to almost 30 different countries every year. I therefore deal with advertising platforms across Europe, America and the Middle East, and it’s a constant challenge to adapt our marketing and promotions to ensure they’re relevant to any audience.

With the different divisions of the company; agriculture, construction, grounds care, export, electric motors, crop storage, irrigation and sheet metal fabrication, there is never a dull moment and my job is as varied as one could possibly be! It’s also not just about sales; we have extensive parts, service and hire departments which all require marketing support throughout the year to ensure our customers and potential customers receive timely information and promotions.

I’ve been lucky enough to travel to Portugal and also accompanied 35 customers to the John Deere factories in Germany in 2015.

After four and a half years at Ben Burgess, I became Group Marketing Manager in May 2016. I manage the marketing strategy and support to all areas of the business.

Bradley Lawrence - Sales Assistant

Although I’ve lived in Norfolk my whole life, growing up, I never knew much about the agricultural industry. I studied media throughout high school and college and was very passionate about pursuing a career within that industry. Having left college, I intended to go to university but decided to take a year out and took a job in Canada as a ski instructor, working and travelling.

Upon my return, I’d changed my mind about university as I’d become used to earning money and being independent.

My Father has always worked within the sales industry and this was something I became interested in when searching for my future career path. I began looking for trainee sales roles and sent an application to Ben Burgess Aylsham.

I was lucky enough to be offered the job despite lacking any agriculture experience. My starting role involved a lot of administration work and learning how the business worked on a day-to-day basis. I worked closely with Martin Fuller, director and Aylsham depot manager, who helped train me.

Alongside this, I assisted the sales department with the delivery of new and demonstration machines. I also attended many courses at John Deere HQ in Nottingham which improved my knowledge on the machinery we provide, including specifications and optimisation.

In time, I had developed my product knowledge enough to be confident in carrying out tractor demonstrations in the field with customers. I continued training and began learning about John Deere’s precision farming technology; GreenStar, MyJohnDeere.com, data management and general technological products.

I now carry out an office and field-based role within the sales team. I sell used equipment across the UK and to our export customers worldwide. I continue to assist the area sales representatives, specialising in tractors and precision farming and help with quoting and machine specifications. I also support Martin with day-to-day tasks.

Coming from a non-agriculture background did not limited my prospects within the industry and having spent three years working at Ben Burgess, I hope to continue to develop my role within the company.

David English - Area Sales Representative

I was born in a small south Norfolk village on a tenanted farm. One of four brothers, we all helped out on the farm throughout our childhood, bedding down cows and the odd tractor driving when required. I had a natural tendency to help repair bits of farm machinery and was always pulling lawnmower engines apart.

On leaving school, I studied agricultural engineering at Kesteven Agricultural College in Lincolnshire for four years, gaining an HND. During the summer holidays, I worked on a local farm gaining experience of many farm operations as well as helping out with repairs on farm machinery.

After college, I went travelling; I visited many parts of Europe as well as Australia and the Far East. I worked with cattle, at car assembly plants and even tried my hand at property sales - all good life experience!

On my return to the UK, I decided to find a career in agricultural sales and I secured my first sales position with a small company near Swaffham. I sold and demonstrated a wide range of farm machinery and worked for this company for almost ten years.

In March 2002, I joined Ben Burgess Norwich as an area sales representative after seeing the position advertised. During my time here, I have been involved in all aspects of selling and demonstrating a wide range of farm machinery in the south Norfolk area. Over the last few years, I have specialised in combine sales and demonstrations, and recently passed accreditation as a John Deere combine specialist.

In my 25 year career in agricultural sales, the biggest change I’ve seen has been the introduction of automation; such as satellite steering, headland management control systems, data records and automatic spray shut off systems to name a few.

Over the years the basics of farming have changed very little, but the way we now perform and record these tasks has changed tremendously. Therefore the required knowledge, both of operators and retailers, is greater than ever and specialist roles in the future will bring excellent opportunities to those in the industry.

Looking to the future, farming efficiency needs to continue to increase in the way we grow crops and tend animals to be able to supply the world with enough food in a sustainable way. This will require ever more efficient machinery and systems to record inputs and help traceability. The next decade is sure to be as interesting and witness more change than the last two. One truth is that you never stop learning and this is the reason why I enjoy my role at Ben Burgess.

Adam Meek - Grounds Care Sales & Service Technician

I first became interested in grounds care equipment when I was asked as a teenager to help prepare my local cricket club’s wicket and outfield. I jumped on the club’s old John Deere 2653A and there was no looking back! As I couldn’t make a living from preparing the cricket pitch, my Grandfather suggested I contact Ben Burgess to see if they would take me on as an apprentice; he knew the firm as a good employer from his many years working on the farm.

I joined the team at Ben Burgess Aylsham in 2006 having completed my GCSE’s. I had just turned 16 and was sent to learn my new trade as an apprentice horticultural technician at Brooksby Melton College in Leicestershire. For the next 3 years, I attended Brooksby in 4 week blocks. I had the time of my life meeting new people from across the UK and learning about things I found interesting. I finished my time at college with a Level 3 City & Guilds qualification in Land-based Engineering.

10 years on, my role in the company is to sell, service and repair all types of grounds care equipment and I continue to attend technical courses held at John Deere HQ in Nottingham in order to keep up with product developments. Ben Burgess Aylsham didn’t offer horticultural services when I first joined, so an important part of my role has been to develop a grounds care department to meet local customer needs. I work with a range of suppliers including John Deere, Hayter, Stihl and Tanaka. My favourite part of the job is to meet new customers and build professional and loyal relationships.

Looking to the future is exciting. John Deere and our other franchises are always introducing top of the range grounds care equipment so I am always learning. I especially enjoy working on John Deere gators as they have become a popular vehicle, utilised in many aspects of working life within farming, gamekeeping, golf clubs and even surveying.

Jason Plummer - Grounds Care Hire Coordinator

I completed a week’s work experience at Ben Burgess in the grounds care workshop. I really enjoyed my week working alongside the team of technicians and decided to apply for a Saturday job. I worked Saturdays until I finished school, then began a grounds care apprenticeship with John Deere, attending Brooksby College for 3 years studying for my NVQ Level 2 and 3 as a grounds care technician and welder.

After completing my apprenticeship and four years in the workshop, I joined the parts department as a sales person. I received parts from manufacturers, sent parcels out to customers, dealt with telephone enquiries and served customers on a daily basis in our showroom. My experience as a technician gave me a great advantage as I had good machinery knowledge and I was able to identify parts needed.

As the grounds care hire department grew, I began to assist them alongside my parts role. This increased my knowledge of a different variety of equipment and I used my customer service skills to look after hire enquiries.

After being in the grounds care parts department for almost seven years, the grounds care hire coordinator position become available and I was given the opportunity to take on that role. I look after equipment including hedge cutters, ride-on lawnmowers, chippers, compact tractors and specialist arborist equipment. My role involves making sure our hire fleet is maintained, working with our customers, organising deliveries and taking care of hire contracts with local councils, golf clubs, football clubs and many others. I work alongside our grounds care workshop manager and assist him and his team when needed.

My role is full of variety with the different equipment we offer and is fulfilling and interesting. I continue to learn and enjoy developing relationships with new and existing customers.

Tom Fisher - Customer Support Representative

From a young age I always had my sights set on going into the agricultural sector, something encouraged during my time growing up on my Grandfather’s farm. I would spend any spare time I had sat with him on his tractor or driving around checking on the small flock of sheep he had. Having more of a practicable attitude, I was always tinkering with an engine or taking things apart.

After leaving school I decided that agricultural college would be the best path for me. I attended Shuttleworth College in Bedfordshire and gained a National Diploma in Agriculture. Whilst at college, I attended work experience on large arable farms. My plan was to complete a harvest in Australia when travelling, however I was fortunate enough to be offered a job with a large arable farming and contracting company when I finished college. I saw this as the opportunity I needed to begin my career in agriculture.

My duties on the farm included operating one of two combines and assisting running the harvest team. After combining, I would help with all aspects of cultivation work and once autumn drilling commenced, I would operate a drill. When all crops were established, I was responsible for crop care, spraying and fertilising to ensure the best quality crop and yields.

After gaining practical experience on the farm, I decided that I wanted a take on a more technical role and assist farmers and growers to progress within their business. This is where my career with Ben Burgess began.

My responsibilities at Ben Burgess vary which is why I enjoy my job and find it so interesting. I am part of the FarmSight team, offering FarmSight support to our customers, which consists of phone support and also visiting customers to optimise their AMS equipment. I spend a lot of my time demonstrating machinery, predominately when farming seasons are busiest. Demonstrations are key to our business and machines require optimising to ensure they provide maximum performance and efficiency. I also install all of the new agricultural equipment that is sold from Ben Burgess Newmarket. In order to stay up-to-date with changes and developments and provide the level of support that our customers require, I attend regular training at John Deere UK’s HQ in Nottingham.