Shropshire Star

From TV legends to Downing Street deliveries: The family business going from strength to strength

A family-run trailer firm which has catered for an iconic TV star, the London Olympics and once helped deliver the Christmas tree to Downing Street is celebrating a major milestone in business.


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Morris Bufton & Co Ltd, based in Ludlow, is toasting 70 years of operation this summer along with a long-held partnership with Europe’s top trailer maker, Ifor Williams Trailers.

The family-owned agricultural and horticultural machinery supplier has served Shropshire, Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Wales since 1954 and was founded by the late Sydney Bufton and Leslie Morris, before the reins were handed to Sydney’s sons, John and Raymond.

Now in its third generation, the business continues is going from strength to strength under John’s sons Steve and Dan Bufton.

Three Counties Show 1958 – Leslie Morris left, Sydney Bufton right

Steve’s wife Sadie works in accounts and son Max has also come in to the business as the fourth generation, servicing and repairing Ifor Williams Trailers.

The firm, which employs 11 staff, counted late TV actor John Challis, who played “Boycie” in Only Fools and Horses, among its most famous former customers.

Ten years ago, the firm also sprang into action to deliver the iconic Christmas tree that stands outside 10 Downing Street. John lent a sturdy 18ft flatbed Ifor Williams Trailer to transport the splendid 22-foot Nordmann Fir from its growers, Dinmore Hill Trees, to the Prime Minister’s official residence in London where it became an integral feature of Christmas news bulletins, standing guard alongside an on-duty police officer.

Director Dan says trust, loyalty and his father and grandfather’s enduring charm have been the secret to the firm’s lasting presence.

Three Counties Show 1958 – Morris Bufton

“My dad was quite the character and was a great salesman," said Dan, 49."He never retired – retirement to him was a dirty word!”

“He would take a chance on someone and always sealed a good deal. We often have customers coming in and sharing stories about my father and grandfather. That’s how we’ve built up trust over the years and why people keep coming back.

“We’re proud of the history of my granddad and the impression he left on people and how our own dad took over the reins.”

Steve, 52, added: “Dad was always looking for a deal, but it was his knowledge that was second to none. He had dealers themselves ringing him for advice on the value of secondhand trailers!

“He always worked on the principle of word of mouth. He had a big network of customers that just kept on coming back and it really worked for him as we’re still here today.”

The firm grew with Sydney buying additional parcels of land surrounding the original site in Gravel Hill to expand the operation. Operating in a post-war period, the business originally serviced the likes of farmers and small holders.

Back in 2014, Morris Bufton & Co provided the trailer to take a Christmas tree to 10 Downing Street – pictured are Colin Griffith of Dinmore Hill Christmas Trees and John Bufton.

John took the business in a new direction by supplying horticultural machinery, establishing links with international brands such as Stihl chainsaws, STIGA gardening tools and Ariens mowers, and building up the trailer side of the business with top trailer maker Ifor Williams Trailers.

Dan was living in the US working in pharmaceuticals when he came back in 2015 to get involved in the family business.

“We’re now carrying the torch," he said. "Obviously, you find your own way of doing things but it’s probably the same as dad would’ve done things anyway.”

Steve added: “People who come to us like the personal touch and that bodes well for us. Both my grandad and dad always sealed a deal with a gentleman’s handshake.

“Dad used to always say if someone comes into the shop looking for a trailer, they want to go home with one, they don’t want to wait around. That’s why he stocked so many. People like to come in and see and touch the physical product so they know exactly what they’re getting.

“John Challis was a regular customer of ours and used to come in for garden machinery and strimmers. When he was filming one of the specials in Bristol, he came into the shop and got all the autographs we wanted from the cast.

“We also supply IWT horseboxes to some of the trainers around here including Venetia Williams and Henry Daly and dad bought all 16 IWT trailers used in the 2012 London Olympics’ opening ceremony to carry props.”

The volume of trailers the firm sells and stocks has increased over the years as the IWT production line grew, making for a constant flow of customers.

Dan added: “IWT is a tried and tested product. You have a company that’s been going for 65 years so they are doing a lot right. The trailers hold their value well. The name is synonymous with quality.”

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