Redpath Tyres was founded in 1974 in Kelso by Neil Redpath’s father with the company celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. The business has grown with multiple depots across the country with Neil looking after the agricultural side and his brother Graham managing the commercial operation.

“Our roots as a business are very much in agriculture and my dad would be very proud of us getting recognised in this way,” he says. “We are still a family company and we, as a family, are very hands on.”

The Scottish Farmer: The business has firm roots in agriculture with Neil overseeing the agri side of the businessThe business has firm roots in agriculture with Neil overseeing the agri side of the business

Neil has been with Redpath since he was a boy helping out his dad after school and during the weekends. He did take a break for a couple of years when he worked in Australia on cotton and cattle farms. Says Neil: “It was a really good experience to learn all about how farms operate in Australia but as soon as they found out I was good with tyres, that was what a lot of my work became.”

When he returned to the business, standard tyres were mostly Crossply with the largest sizes being only 16 9-34. This changed to radial and over the years this has developed to cope with the higher horsepower and demands on tractors and increased productivity – the diameter of a radial tyre now reaches over two metres.

The Scottish Farmer: Redpaths started out supplying Crossply tyres but have moved on to radial products in recent yearsRedpaths started out supplying Crossply tyres but have moved on to radial products in recent years

“We have to keep up with Generation-2 technology so we have more focus with higher performance IF (increased flexion) and VF (very high flexion) tyres. The market is ever-changing so we have to stay on top of it. Crossply is still the most used tyre in the world but for agriculture in the UK it’s good to go for something more efficient which allows sustainability of the soil structure which works well with a radial tyre.”

Redpath still has its roots firmly in the Borders with its main depot based in Duns.

“Duns holds our biggest stock of large section and part-used tyres – it is also where we have our repair centre which has one of the largest autoclaves in Europe,” Neil points out. “We have offered a vulcanised repair service since the early 1980s and we have the only Michelin-accredited repair centre in Scotland. Currently we have 11 depots, from Northumberland to Inverness and Peterhead and everywhere in between. Our breakdown control centre handles in excess of 120 breakdowns per day.

“The wheels we source are designed to suit the individual purpose and manufactured in the UK. Most of the large section tyres are manufactured in Spain with the growing suppliers manufacturing in India.”

Neil stresses that many tyre problems can be solved with knowing the right size and the right type of tyre for the job. “I always find that one tyre might suit one customer but it won’t suit the next so it’s really important to keep the customer in mind,” he says. “We are always trying to get the right tyre that suits the end user. You have to be very careful about the right sizes to suit the tractor – most dealers don’t realise that tyres have limits in horsepower. Even giving out that kind of advice builds trust with our customers and we always try to ask what they are intending to do with the tractor so we can give them exactly what they need.”

The Scottish Farmer: All the tyre technicians at Redpaths are trained to a high standardAll the tyre technicians at Redpaths are trained to a high standard

When asked about customers doing their own research, Neil is wary, stating: “The internet is a phenomenal place but also a dangerous one in terms of misinformation. You get a lot of information that is US-based and they have a completely different soil type to us. We are so into getting as much out of our acreage as possible while in the US it’s all about speed.”

For tyres, Neil’s best advice is to always go wider. “Wider tyres do less damage to the ground because of the weight distribution. I think there was a moment the trend was favouring thinner tyres but I will always say big is beautiful.”

Neil also advises people to be careful with the speed their tyres will go. “A lot of people struggle with speed ratings,” he says. “If your trailer tyre is Crossply and you pull with a 50k tractor you are capable of breaking the law. It’s just something we also tell customers to be aware about and why it’s good to know how you might be using the tyres.”

Redpath works with both farmers and dealers but does roughly 85-90% of its sales directly with farmers.

“The thing about working with farmers is that you can get to exactly what they need and why they need it, but they don’t necessarily have the budget for the best products,” says Neil.

“One of the best things that happened was the grant system for VF ultra-flex tyres being made available so that farmers felt like they could opt to try them out when they maybe wouldn’t have before. Once they try them out it gives them a good scope of what’s out there and why it can be a good investment.”

The company also prides itself on its on-site repair services. However, it has been more challenging for on-field repairs due to the heavy rain causing the saturated ground to be too soft.

“We do a huge amount of puncture repairs but to get the tyre going again we need heavyweight vehicles with cranes due to the sheer size of these tyres.

“Punctures never happen in the shed so we need to get our guys out there in the field fixing the problem quickly. However, with this wet weather the ground surface has been very soft, making it difficult to get our repair vehicles in to the fields.

“We try to keep loyalty by looking after everyone and if there are ever any issues they can easily speak to us and get it sorted before it becomes a problem. Both myself and my brother are very transparent and easily accessible – we don’t see any point in hiding from anyone, we are part of the team.”

Redpath has around 88 employees across the depots including breakdown team members, admin, delivery drivers, yardmen, and tyre technicians who are trained to a very high standard. And they were delighted when they knew they had been nominated for the award.

“We attended the night with the core team and had a rather large full table,” says Neil. “This is most sought-after award we have ever won and it means the most to us because it’s pure farming. A lot of people don’t realise we are a supplier of product to farming – we are not just against another tyre company.

“It means the most to our fitters being against other non-tyre suppliers – it made us all feel very honoured to be considered.”

Meanwhile, the award has been touring around all the depots as well as the local community. “Everyone wants to get a picture with it, which makes me very proud to see.

It’s also been round at the local primary schools and the Probus Club – it’s on a bit of a grand tour at the moment. “It has been very touching – all the messages we have got from our customers and people in the community congratulating us over it. I was happy to share that experience.”

Looking to what the new year holds, Neil is optimistic.

“Certainly I’m looking forward to prices settling down and a little bit more stability,” he says. “The biggest thing is the conflicts in the world affecting the supply rates. I am looking forward to the challenge of the next year because I think it will give us a good foothold and the team is ready to handle that. I have a very good team behind me – bring it on.”

When it comes to the recognition from the award, Neil wishes his late father was alive to see it.

“Father would have been so proud, – the business was born in agriculture and we still keep that focus today. If he had been there you probably wouldn’t have been able to get him off the stage!

“We should be shouting from the treetops about the commitment and forward thinking in farming. You’ve got to have the right answers and keep up with technology.

“You are only good as your last sale. We are a family business – that’s what father hammered into us. Whether it’s one grey Fergie or a huge business that uses us everyday – they are treated the same way and his motto still stands ‘any tyre, anywhere, any time’.”