Proud family firm celebrating 75 years – Coombridge & Alexander

“As the company enjoys its 75th anniversary year, its slogan of ‘Strong, Simple, Smart’ still rings true.”

General manager, Dave Meade

For 75 years Hamilton-based agricultural engineering company Coombridge & Alexander have been steadily building their iconic brand of farm equipment ‘SAM Machinery’.
Recognised by its distinctive yellow and green tones, SAM Spreaders, Feed Wagons, Hydraulic trailers and Quick Hitches have helped New Zealand and overseas farmers get the most from their land.
This year Coombridge & Alexander are extending into horticulture with their innovative new SAM Orchard Spreader.
“It means orchardists have the option to choose between spreading and banding from their tractor at just the push of a button,” says design engineer, Toby Stone.
The Orchard Spreader’s belt simply reverses – forward for banding/piling, and backwards for spreading. This capability means a really wide range of products can easily be spread. It even bands and piles notoriously tricky mulch.
General manager, Dave Meade says as the company enjoys its 75th anniversary year, its slogan of ‘Strong, Simple, Smart’ still rings true.
Founders, Wilf Coombridge and Johnny Alexander were farming when they began to make fence posts and farm gates for local farmers back in the 1940’s.
Fences evolved into hay elevators.
Then, in 1952, they purchased their first welder and began to produce a range of steel products.
The ‘SAM’ name that Coombridge & Alexander uses to market its products is an acronym from the names of ‘Arnold & Mervin Stokes’.
The pair helped invent one of the first products the company manufactured, the SAM Hay Stacker.
Wilf and Johnny had to overcome some major hurdles in the early days of the business.
In 1948 a tornado flattened their factory in Frankton and, in 1950, the business was damaged by fire.
Wilf’s son John, and his grandchildren Kate and Will are all part of the SAM team.
Kate Coombridge says the original drive for reliability, simplicity and great service began with the founders and now flows across three generations.
“We are a Kiwi company that likes to do things a little differently. We are not interested in huge growth or world domination.
“Our goal is to create a sustainable New Zealand business that will last well into the future. Our aim is to always be the farmer’s favourite.”
SAMs are easy to use, look great and perform consistently well on-farm.
“Long-term reliability for our customers is our goal. Our designs are all based on this principle.
The other element in the SAM slogan ‘Smart’, comes from the company’s drive to create a culture of improvement and common sense.”
And Kate says being family-owned and operated gives the team a unique perspective.
“We try to be practical, resourceful and agile. Having the right people in key roles long-term has also been essential. We have a passionate, loyal team.” Kate says.
As well as marking the year by launching their new Orchard Spreaders they have also added more smart technology. Weighing Apps and TOPCON computer controlled spreaders give their customers options for even greater accuracy, reporting and control if they need it.
“We feel very lucky to be delivering SAM’s to generation after generation of New Zealand farmers, we know Wilf & Johnny would get a kick out of it for sure.”

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