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Stackyard News Dec 2011

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John Fox Celebrated at Institution of Agricultural Engineers Dinner

John Fox, who has been a stalwart supporter of the agricultural engineering industry for over 50 years was recently acknowledged for his exceptional contribution to the profession by trustees of the Douglas Bomford Trust and other senior members of the agricultural engineering industry.

John Fox (left) is presented with a plaque
from Jonathan Bomford.

John Fox (left) is presented with a plaque from Jonathan Bomford.

At a celebratory dinner, John was applauded for his dynamic leadership and technical contributions to engineering design and his outstanding service both to the Douglas Bomford Trust and the Institution of Agricultural Engineers. The dinner, attended by colleagues, family and friends also celebrated John’s 80th birthday and his retirement as Vice Chairman and Trustee of the Douglas Bomford Trust. He will though, continue working with the Trust as an Emeritus Trustee.

After gaining a National Diploma in Agricultural Engineering he was convinced it was a career he wanted to follow. Following a spell with the army (REME) based in Cyprus, John placed his name on a newly created Appointments listing introduced by IAgrE. He was spotted by IAgrE’s President at the time, Douglas Bomford and was offered the role of Technical and Production Manager with Bomford and Evershed. Recollecting those early days he had tremendous admiration for Douglas Bomford.

“Douglas was dedicated to the industry, an advocate of education and training and a splendid man to work with,” said John. And so it was to be the beginning of a more than 50 year association with the Bomford family – and the Bomford legacy as a Trustee and Vice-Chairman of the Trust. He reached the position of Company Chairman of Bomford and Evershed in 1982 and led the company to the forefront of agricultural engineering expertise.

Whereas Douglas was an ideas man John was an innovator with a keen understanding of commercial reality. During his first year with the company, he set about improving manufacturing capability and reducing the reliance on out-sourced products, which led to the rationalisation of the product line.

He soon realised the product offering was too narrow and soon spotted a gap in the market for a heavy duty cultivator that could be used by a 60 to 70 hp tractor.

“We had to produce a cultivator with much greater inter-tine, inter-row and under-frame clearance than anything else on the market, but it had to be light enough to be lifted and pulled by the relatively low-power tractors at the time,” said John.

And so the Superflow machine was born. It became Bomford’s ‘signature’ product over the 25 years it was in production, when more than 20,000 machines were sold, some in Massey Ferguson colours through a parallel marketing agreement.

Having broken into the soil engaging market Bomford turned its attention to hedges and edges. Through an adaptation of an earlier Bomford Hedgemaker, the first articulated mowing machine designed for highways and the forerunner of the flail verge mower was created. The company then went from strength to strength on a raft of innovative products following the achievement of the Superflow and went on to have success with other market leading machines such as the Highwayman, Bushwacker, Dynadrive and many others.

For these and many other products, in 1976 Bomford and Evershed was awarded the Gold Medal for outstanding contribution of agriculture by the Royal Agricultural Society.
Following Douglas Bomford’s death the Douglas Bomford Trust was established. Today the Trust manages funds worth over £3m which are used to recognise and uphold Douglas Bomford’s desire to assist in developing individual‘s knowledge and innovation to meet the contribution that engineering can make to agriculture and the rural environment.

At John’s home, on the edge of his sloping lawn there is a shed and John points out: “That is my workshop,” he says. “There is plenty of interesting stuff in there!” Once an innovator, always an innovator!

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