Monday 18th December 2017
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Ransomes Jacobsen

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Ransomes has been associated with the town of Ipswich for over 220 years and for much of that time they have been producing commercial mowers.

Robert Ransome started the business in 1789 when he opened an iron foundry and by 1832 he had manufactured the world’s first lawn mower. This was built under licence from the inventor Edwin Budding, a weaver who patented a machine for shearing carpet and realised this could also be applied to cutting grass.

From these humble beginnings the company has grown to become one of the leading manufacturers of mowers and turf maintenance equipment across the globe and is known today as Ransomes Jacobsen.

Since 1998 the company has been owned by US-based Textron Inc, a multi-industry manufacturing conglomerate with major businesses units that include Bell Helicopter and Cessna Aircraft Company. Textron purchased Ransomes and merged it with their existing Jacobsen turf maintenance equipment manufacturing business based in Charlotte, North Carolina. The company became a subsidiary of Jacobsen, was renamed Ransomes Jacobsen and became the US company’s European manufacturing and administrative headquarters.

The two former competitors came together to form a united business and almost overnight became the major force in the grounds care industry. They brought decades, and in Ransomes case, centuries of innovation in mowing technology that continues to this day.

Ransomes Jacobsen operates in two distinct markets, the golf market where Jacobsen equipment is colour-coded in orange, and the municipal, landscape and contractor market which is dominated by the Ransomes green machines.  There is a slight overlap between some markets where machines are finished in both colours and branded accordingly.

l-r David Withers, President of Jacobsen; Rupert Price, Sales director, Ransomes Jacobsen; Jason King, Customer Care director, Ransomes Jacobsen; and Alan Prickett, Managing director, Ransomes Jacobsen Asia Pacific regionComplementing the mowing equipment, the company also supplies and distributes factored products such as Turfco top dressers and spreaders,  Smithco and Ryan bunker and turf maintenance machinery, E-Z-GO golf cars and, in the UK, the Iseki brand of ride-on mowers and compact tractors.

Today the UK division is responsible for sales and marketing across Europe, the Middle East, Africa and the countries of the Asia Pacific region including China and Australia. The US headquarters in Charlotte looks after the Americas and primarily supplies machines and equipment under the Jacobsen and Cushman brands for golf turf maintenance.

In 2011, Ransomes Jacobsen’s managing director David Withers was promoted to president of Jacobsen, a tremendous personal accolade for him, which now sees him managing the business across the globe.

He spent his early industry years as a product demonstrator before moving to Jacobsen as a machinery salesman in 1992.  In 1998, following the purchase of Ransomes by Textron, he moved to Ipswich to take on the new role of UK sales manager. He was subsequently promoted to international sales director and in 2004 he was appointed Managing Director for the UK.

Now after nearly 20 years with the company, his business philosophy is relatively simple and revolves around what he calls ‘the three Bs’ - build relationships; build products that exceed the customers’ needs and back up the product for life.

Speaking recently to UK and US journalists about the job ahead he said, “My goal is to try and keep the business simple, so everything flows from that. Groundscare, in all its forms, is a relationship industry. We’ve done the hard work on the product, parts and service side … now it’s a matter for us to be visible, meet more of our customers and build relationships with them. They want us to succeed because they like our products and they want a valid choice. I can guarantee that we will be out there every day in front of customers to give them that choice.”