MOUNTED awards are gradually taking over an office wall of Bryce Suma near Morebattle.
Innovator Jock Bryce of Linton Hill has added another, winning a gold for his latest one-man fencing machine at the Royal Welsh Show last month.
Mr Bryce said: “We were up against big international companies – Claas, JCB, New Holland. Stuart and Andrew (his sons) were jumping around like Usain Bolt when we won. When I went round the ring, I went with Andrew and Stuart on either side.”
The inventor of the classy Bryce fence post drivers has already scooped a top accolade at the leading agricultural machinery show, LAMMA, earlier this year for his latest unit, the Bryce Powershift HD180.
It’s a family operation: Jock is on sales and inventing, wife Jennifer runs the office and admin, Andrew “makes sure the show runs smoothly, he makes things happen”, said Jock, and Stuart runs the groundworks side of the business. Jock’s other son, Ian, has his own carpentry business.
The mounted certificates creeping along the wall of the office include three golds dating back to 2006 and a couple of silvers (1998, 2009) from leading agricultural shows across the country, along with the LAMMA earlier this year.
The company offers 12 different types of post driver, Jock has 10 patents so far and Bryce Suma exports to Russia, New Zealand, Australia and America, as well as supplying the home market.
Jock started out nearly 40 years ago with an old post office van which cost £78; he’s fenced the Cheviots, Tweedsmuir, the Lammermuirs – and one million metres of hill ground fencing later, he knows what’s needed in a fencing machine.
He said: “It’s 35 years since I started tinkering about with post drivers, just making changes. People say about mine that it’s easy to see it’s been designed by a man who does the work himself.”
The latest, which he brought out at the beginning of last year, he describes as “a very unique combination”, the unit rotating as it does through 180 degrees which means you can hammer posts left, right and anywhere in between. The skid machine has reverse drive on it and it can slew on the move so, for example, side on to a hill operators can slew the mast to the topside of the hill so it’s more stable and much safer. And instead of reversing up a hill looking over their shoulder, the post driver can be in front of you and you can drive up looking the way you’re going.
Also – particularly attractive this year – the machine has low ground pressure, meaning it can move about causing minimal damage on waterlogged ground.
And it can be operated by one man, which saves employing another to drive the tractor for the more conventional post drivers.
The farmer’s son from Hownam Mains says innovation is in the genes, his forebears being engineers and ship builders.
“My father used to describe me as very inventive. If you are a thinker you can’t help it. He (his father) was the first man to have a tractor up the Kalewater Valley and the first to introduce electric lighting – he had a pioneering spirit as well.
“I get ideas between 2am and 4am, I’m just lying there in bed and sometimes you have these eureka moments and you wish you had a pen and bit of paper. But that’s when I rehearse things in my mind and realise ‘that’s not going to work’ and you find a way round it. It’s like rehearsing your moves before playing the pipes or a dance: this is my backstage, in my bed at 2-4am, I work out how I’m going to do it, just lying there quietly thinking.”
How did he come to be this way? “Three things make you who you are,” he continued: “Your parents, the environment you were brought up in and the people around about you.”
He learned from parents to “treat others the way you like to be treated yourself and take time with people and be true to your word – that means a lot, especially in this day and age.”
The environment? He points to the peace of the countryside, working the soil, hearing birds and a creative childhood making catapults and bows, bogies from pram wheels, fishing: “It was just a very wholesome life”. And the people round about him: “My father sent me to Cessford (farm near Morebattle) aged 17 to get knocked into shape, like trying to bring a dog to heel. There were 17 tractors and 27 men. Even the most mundane job like mucking out the piggery was fun.
“I don’t take ‘no’ for an answer and I’m determined. I used to try and discipline myself: if you had half an hour at the end of the day to finish the job, I would finish it rather than say ‘I’ve done enough’ – it’s going that one step further.
“This for me is like these Blackie (Blackface sheep) men, they can’t help but next year want to do better, breed the show winner. I come from the same mold, but my slant has gone towards machinery, it’s just a thing that’s in you, I don’t do it for any other reason.”
For more information visit www.brycesuma.co.uk