Frank Johnston (Tractors) Ltd.

Johnston (Tractors) Ltd, Cumbria and Dumfries & Galloway`s official John Deere Dealer for agricultural tractors and equipment. We are dealers of used and new John Deere tractors and farm machinery serving Northern England and Southern Scotland. We supply the full range of new John Deere Agriculutral equipment, the John Deere Gator utility vehicle and John Deere Residential lawnmowers from our three depots in Carlisle, Dumfries and Appleby and offer full after sales service. Our team of skilled and experienced individuals at these locations provided a high level of service and support to customers with a parts department that holds a large stock of John Deere parts or is able to order additional parts on overnight delivery. Along with John Deere tractors and farm machinery; we also supply, service and repair many other leading brands of new equipment including Caterpillar, Suzuki, Shelbourne Reynolds, Pottinger, NC Engineering, Lucas G, Lely, Dal-Bo, Sumo, Hudson Trailers and more.

Company details

4 Montgomery Way, Rosehill Estate Carlisle , Cumbria , CA1 2RW United Kingdom

Locations Served

Our Manufacturers

Business Type:
Distributor
Industry Type:
Agriculture
Market Focus:
Regionally (various states or provinces)

Welcome to the website of Frank Johnston (Tractors) Ltd, Cumbria and Dumfries & Galloway's official John Deere Dealer for agricultural tractors and equipment. We are dealers of used and new John Deere tractors and farm machinery serving Northern England and Southern Scotland. 

We supply the full range of new John Deere Agriculutral equipment, the John Deere Gator utility vehicle and John Deere Residential lawnmowers from our three depots in Carlisle, Dumfries and Appleby and offer full after sales service. Our team of skilled and experienced individuals at these locations provided a high level of service and support to customers with a parts department that holds a large stock of John Deere parts or is able to order additional parts on overnight delivery. Along with John Deere tractors and farm machinery; we also supply, service and repair many other leading brands of new equipment including Caterpillar, Suzuki, Shelbourne Reynolds, Pottinger, NC Engineering, Lucas G, Lely, Schuitemaker, Dal-Bo, Sumo, Hudson Trailers and more. We have a range of John Deere Merchandise including toys, clothing and accessories available instore and online.

We also specialise in used equipment with a wide range of used John Deere tractors and many other makes of tractors and farm machinery available for sale and export. Our Used Equipment section is updated regularily so please browse through our current stock or use the Used Stock Search function to find a specific model of equipment.

In 1962, seven miles east of Carlisle, agricultural engineer Frank Johnston began his fledgling business. Starting out dealing in used machinery and progressing later into a new equipment dealership. The family firm Frank Johnston Tractors Limited (aka FJT and laterly Johnston Tractors) moved to the Rosehill estate opposite Cumbria’s largest cattle market, Borderway Mart in 1975 - a powerful statement for the future. Forty years on son Howard and daughter Lorna now head up one of the north of England’s most progressive agricultural machinery enterprises. As well as representing the UKs leading tractor and machinery franchise John Deere, the company still has the security of its roots being firmly in the used equipment business.

FOUNDING OF THE BUSINESS

Frank, after having been a hired lad and then becoming a fully trained engineer, had been a salesman for the now defunct Massey Ferguson dealers County Motors. In 1962 he started off on his own dealing in used machinery and carrying out repairs at the family farm How Mill, seven miles from Carlisle. 

One of Frank’s earliest ventures was selling used combines to suit a growing market in the area with many Cumbrian’s buying combine harvesters for the first time. In 1967, FJT became the main dealer for the Danish Dronningborg combine. Now owned by AGCO, Dronningborg combines were rebadged as Massey Ferguson for many years after Massey sold off its original combine harvester division. 

BECOMING A MAIN DEALER

During the 1960s, Frank acquired several dealerships for machinery that have become market leading brands today. Most notably he pioneered the brands Lely, Krone, JF and Ifor Williams in the area. His company became a Massey Ferguson sub-dealer in the mid 60s but owing to supply difficulties Frank had to look elsewhere for a suitable alternative. As a result FJT became one of the first UK dealers of Universal Tractors in 1972. Universal tractors and engines made by Uzina Tractorul Brasov in Romania, were based heavily on licensed FIAT designs.

In 1974 FIAT began importing tractors in to the UK. Thus with limited models and some quality issues, the logical progression was to change from Universal and in so doing, FJT was appointed as a FIAT tractor dealer. This offered an opportunity to get ahead of the market with modern 4WD across the whole range at a time when 4WD was becoming more popular; required for additional traction and stability on varied terrain. 

In 1975 the local cattle market relocated from the town centre to a new Greenfield site on the periphery of Carlisle near the motorway. Borderway Mart was built and the choice was made to acquire the site directly opposite as it was felt it was better to be located near the market. The Carlisle head office was built on this site, largely by Frank and son Howard with the help of local tradesmen. This was a high profile move for FJT and represented a change from working in the back yard to one of the biggest investments by a UK FIAT dealer at the time.

In 1985 Case took control of International Harvester’s tractor division forming Case IH. As a result WCF lost the Case franchise and FJT lost its FIAT dealership to WCF. After being courted by several manufacturers the decision was made to go with French brand Renault who had a proven 4WD tractor.

DEALER OF A MAJOR BRAND

Towards the end of the 1980s, Frank took a back seat with son Howard taking care of the sales side of the business assisted by sister Lorna. Howard played a large part in taking the Renault tractor brand from relatively unknown in the area, to a position of market share greater than the UK average - making FJT the country’s top dealer for two consecutive years. These efforts did not go unnoticed in the trade and in 1990 the company was approached by John Deere who were looking for a dealer who could increase their market share in Cumbria and Dumfries. 

Renault worked well for the company alongside a thriving used tractor business. However, it was felt that in order for the business to grow further they had to take on one of the major brands. On November 16th 1990, Frank Johnston Tractors were appointed the new John Deere dealer for the area.

Looking to achieve sales growth they began to recruit sales staff outside of the family. During the first few years with John Deere, the company had some success selling the John Deere 50 series tractors which had a strong following although were not mainstream. John Deere launched the 6000 series in 1992, which were a radical improvement over the classic design of the previous 50 and 55 series, with a full-frame modular design and new cab which was welcomed customers. 

This 6000 series updated in 1997 with the 6010 series, had a completely new design concept for the industry which meant that the engine and transmission were not stressed components with all the stress of the tractor taken on the frame. Modern John Deere 6030 series are still based on the same design.  

For the remainder of the 1990s, FJT’s new tractor business became the focus of the company’s efforts and grew in-line with John Deere growth nationally. The company was also able to offer a broader range of machinery. However this did mean they had to give up the franchises Krone and JF because of conflict with John Deere own brand mowers and balers. 

PROGRESSION TO PRESENT DAY

In 2003, the company opened a dealership in Dumfries under the shortened name Johnston Tractors, to better serve that area. The staff levels of the company quickly doubled and in addition to agricultural equipment, the John Deere lawn care and utility vehicle range was made available at the Dumfries depot. This range of products came to the Carlisle branch the year after in 2004.

During the 2000's Johnston Tractors expanded its product range to fulfil different markets. This has culminated in a wide portfolio of products being made available today including: Caterpillar telehandlers, Suzuki ATVs, Pottinger cultivation equipment, Shelbourne Reynolds feeding equipment, Hudson livestock trailers and much more machinery from other leading brands. 

In 2010 the company celebrated 20 years as a John Deere dealer by creating a special edition John Deere tractor. Called the 'John Deere 6430 Platinum', this tractor had a 'top of the range' specification and was covered in a silver livery. Customers took part in a competition at the companies 20th Anniversary open day to win the use of the '6430 Platinum' for one full year.

The company has had to become ever more involved with new technologies with the products they sell (e.g. global positioning satellite receivers) and in the operations of the dealership (e.g. laptop access to information technology). In 2011, John Deere developed a new strategy for its dealer businesses, coined 'Dealer Of Tomorrow'. This concept recognised the need for dealers to have reasonable scale in order to remain profitable and reinvest in the technology and people skills needed to support modern farming equipment. As part of this process, Johnston Tractors' John Deere territory was expanded to cover the Upper Eden Valley of Cumbria. A team of experienced technicians, parts and sales staff were recruited to operate at a new outlet in Long Marton near Appleby-in-Westmorland. 

The company’s products, services and customers have evolved significantly over its 50 year history. A keen eye for market trends from Frank and son Howard, and their commitment to serving local farmers has lead the company to a market leading position and it is now well respected in the area, across the UK and Internationally.