Airports and municipal authorities across Europe and North America are increasingly turning to Irish company Multihog for solutions to their ongoing maintenance needs. Multihog’s highly adaptable range of multi-purpose tractors is used for a variety of applications, from snow and ice clearance in winter, to grass and hedge trimming in summer.
Founded in Dundalk in Ireland in 2008 by Managing Director Jim McAdam, Multihog is built on a rich engineering and innovation heritage. McAdam had previously been Managing Director of Moffett Engineering, where he was pivotal in the development of the very successful Moffett Mounty truck-mounted forklift, which has sold over 55,000 units worldwide to date.
Multihog has its genesis in a personal need identified by its founder. “We started out small with just an idea,” McAdam recalls. “My home is on a sloping site in Carlingford, County Louth. It was very difficult to cut grass on the slope. I looked around and there was no machine out there designed to do it, so I decided to design and manufacture one myself.”
From Agritechnica to the world
The initial idea of a dedicated grass-cutting machine quickly gave way to more ambitious plans. “We turned from that to making a multi-purpose tractor. We started out looking at what I wanted but then we saw other markets where we could provide better solutions. I took on two engineers straight out of college and we built a prototype. I took the prototype home with me in December 2008 and tested it over Christmas. I decided that it wasn’t really what I wanted, so we started again. By the following November we had another prototype and launched that at Agritechnica in Germany.”
Very importantly, Multihog’s tractor had received European Type Approval for agricultural applications, which gave the new product credibility with potential customers across Europe and beyond.
Winter maintenance is the main airport application for Multihog’s tractors. “They are used for clearing snow around the apron where the aircraft come in to park,” McAdam explains. “If you have a covering of snow, you need to clear pathways for passengers to walk on. It’s mainly for the areas around the plane where bigger vehicles can’t get to.”
Multihog’s all-season machines
They are also used mainly for winter operations by municipal authorities, for snow clearing and path clearing and so on. They are all-season machines and can be used for grass cutting, hedge trimming and other applications in summer as well.
The market response to this small, highly manoeuvrable and adaptable machine was very positive. “We are now selling into 27 different countries and the US will be our biggest market this year. Benelux, Germany, Switzerland and Austria are also very important to us. Quite a few airports in Eastern Europe are customers as well. We have 14 machines in Dublin Airport, and Donegal Airport is also a customer. We had five employees in 2009 and we have grown to 70 today.”
The range has also grown. “We have a number of different-sized machines. We started with the MH model, which was great in terms of physical size. We now have three different models – the MH, CX, and MX, which offer different options in terms of size, physical power, range and so on. Research, development and innovation are very important to us. We have nine engineers working on it. You have to do that if you want to become the market leader. You have to listen to your customers and react to what their needs are. Where we are very competitive is in our speed of reaction. We are very quick to develop what our customers need.”
The next product in the range is already at an advanced stage of development. “This will have enhanced multi-function capabilities, which will take us into new market areas,” says McAdam. “We are working on our next product at the moment and we know what the next product after that will be and the next product after that again. Of course, the market could change next year, and we will change with that. We also have some pretty big challenges to face. We have to deal with emissions, just the same as cars and other vehicles. Our overall strategy is to continue to develop our product range as well as our sales channel. We have just put a team of people into the US to support our network of 13 dealers there.”