An 80% increase in sales to farmers and custom operators in North America is fuelling growth at JCB Agriculture, the farm equipment arm of Britain’s construction machinery giant.

Speaking at the launch of Tier 4i compliant JCB Loadall telescopic handlers and Agri wheeled loaders, managing director Richard Fox-Marrs revealed that having seen revenues grow 50% in 2011 over the prior year, JCB Agriculture sales are up 30% so far in 2012.

“North America is making a big contribution to that performance, with sales up 80% on 2011 so far,” he says. “JCB used to be an unknown brand in agriculture, but it’s becoming better known and we now have good product alignment with North American customer expectations.”

The introduction of a more comprehensive range of skid steer loaders has played a major part, he said, but so too have efforts to appoint more dedicated agricultural dealers.

“We’ve applied the same strategy that’s worked in Europe by appointing individual mixed franchise farm equipment dealers to increase coverage on the ground,” says Fox-Marrs.

“Farmers expect to do business with dealers who specialize in agriculture and they don’t want to travel too far to get to their nearest dealer.”

JCB Agriculture now has approximately 40 such outlets, mainly in the key dairy and livestock farming areas of the U.S., while continuing to supply units through its industrial and construction machinery dealers. “Linking our United States parts facility to the World Parts network has helped demonstrate to potential dealers that we’re serious about agriculture; it’s improved our parts coverage and response rates are much better,” says Fox-Marrs.

“The new skid steer loader range is also having an impact — with 18 wheeled and track models having capacities from 1,300-3,200 pounds, the range is now relevant to many more potential customers, particularly in the dairy sector.”

The unique single arm design of these machines gives them exceptional operator visibility while the side door cab access makes getting aboard easier and safer, Fox-Marrs points out.

Nor can it do JCB’s sales prospects any harm that the new machines were designed and engineered at the company’s North American headquarters in Savannah, Ga., where they are now in full-scale production.