Double anniversary celebrations for Rutherfords

Left to right on trailer is Sandy Mercer and Keith Robertson with John Wilson holding the sales ledger.
Left to right on trailer is Sandy Mercer and Keith Robertson with John Wilson holding the sales ledger.

An old sales ledger which records a snapshot of agricultural industry 100 years ago has been discovered by a Borders firm which is celebrating its centenary.

Earlston-based Rutherford Agricultural and Automotive Engineers, which started in 1911, is also marking another important anniversary this year.

The firm, which started life as millwrights and agricultural engineers, has now been a distributor for Ifor Williams Trailers, Europe’s biggest trailer maker, for a quarter of a century.

Rutherford is still doing business with later generations of the same families recorded in the fascinating ledger which lists the very first customers to use their services.

It contains a wealth of information, detailing the types of jobs carried out, the costs involved and the time taken to support farmers long before the days of tractors and combine harvesters.

The 20th customer listed is James Mercer, the grandfather of retired farmer Sandy Mercer who lives in Lauder and still buys Ifor Williams Trailers from Rutherford, which employs 50 people.

Mr Mercer uses his flatbed trailer to transport vintage farm equipment, which he restores himself, to agricultural shows and steam rallies.

John Wilson, managing director, who has been with Rutherford for 35 years, said he thought the same families were still using the firm ten decades later because they believe in the reputation of the company and associated it with a well run, family business which looks after its customers.

He said: “Rutherford has grown into a very, very well respected and strong brand which gives us credibility and customer confidence which is very important. It has been owned by the same family ever since it started and it is now in the hands of Ann Rutherford and her daughter Jane Millar, who is the chief executive.

“The good thing is that Jane’s son, Nick is now also involved in the business so just like our customers, the company has very much come down through the generations.”

The company has also retained long term links with a select number of other quality agricultural names including Ifor Williams Trailers.

Mr Wilson said: “Our 100th year in business is also our 25th year of supplying Ifor Williams trailers and I think there is a great synergy because like us they are still a family owned business, very responsive and like us operate in a totally professional manner. I quite like the idea of the Scottish and the Welsh sticking together too!”

Peter Nesbitt, business development manager for Ifor Williams Trailers, said: “Rutherford has been a loyal partner of ours and it is always reassuring to hear the customer service we pride ourselves on is replicated by the firms who sell and supply our trailers.”