Profile of Ben Taylor – Bernhard’s International Training Manager

Posted on March 18, 2014 at 3:15 PM

Ben Taylor is a well-known face in the industry.

He has worked for Bernhard as International Training Manager for 7 years – but since leaving school he has been immersed in the world of turf cutting machinery, golf courses, and training greenkeepers and mechanics in the science of achieving healthy turf.

Born and bred in Eastborne, Sussex, Ben went straight from school into a 3-year apprenticeship with a John Deere Dealer in Sussex. As part of the training he attended Plumpton College and the John Deere Training School in Nottingham to learn about grounds care machinery.

“My older brother was a greenkeeper so as a young child I loved to help him on the local golf course and I knew that was the environment I enjoyed, even then. The apprenticeship gave me a really good grounding for the industry and I enjoyed the college experience. John Deere were only just breaking in to the UK at that time – so it was a good opportunity for me to work with an emerging and growing business.

In 1995 I worked at Hassocks Golf Club in Brighton attending Plumpton College again, this time to study greenkeeping up to level 3. I enjoyed the environment and the job very much, but I did miss working with machinery – so I left after 3 years to work for a Toro Dealer in Sussex. That got me out and about and back in workshops, and I travelled around Kent, East and West Sussex and bits of Hampshire and London.

I realised how much I enjoyed meeting new people – so when I was offered a training position at Bernhard, I knew it was right for me. I’d bought machines from Steve Nixon in the past and knew the company and products, so when he asked me if I was interested in joining the company I jumped at the opportunity.

I knew it would involve plenty of travel and within a few days of joining I was off to South Africa for 3 weeks.  As you can imagine, in the 7 years I have been with the firm, there are not many places I haven’t been.

I suppose on average I am away for 20 weeks of the year. One year I did 31 weeks away and with an average of one week in each country, you can imagine the number miles I travelled. That was gruelling, but I do love visiting new countries, and meeting people of different cultures.

Just occasionally the long flights, terrible delays and stopovers at anti-social times of the night do get to me. I have had delays of 24 hours, only to get on a plane for a 16-hour flight. I reckon I have on average, ten planes cancelled each year and the sheer waste of time gets to me, but it does gives me the chance to read a lot.

Mostly the people I spend time with compensate for this and I do get to visit some incredible places and amazing golf courses and sporting facilities.

Last year, on a hot summer day I climbed the Plaine-Morte glacier above Crans Montana in Switzerland, which is dramatic and spectacular and a bit of a bizarre feeling.

One place that sticks in my head was a visit to Sudan. I was there to do a demonstration. At the time there was only one golf course in Khartoum and this amazing green haven, built on a borehole looked very out of place in the dusty dry heat of the desert. I was dealing with such nice people who had not seen any of the equipment before. It was such a pleasure to introduce them to it and they were so appreciative.”

“What I like about my job with Bernhard is that we really do work as a team. Everyone knows everyone – from the guys who design and build the machines to the teams who sell and maintain them, and administer back at the office; and this industry is unique too. It is relatively small – so we all know one another – and greenkeepers and mechanics are just thoroughly nice people.

Since our new training facility opened in Suffolk last year I have been running sessions there for people from all over the world. The numbers are growing month by month. Alongside this I have the privilege of holding seminars and demonstrations at colleges to the next generation of student greenkeepers.

I gave a talk at Harrogate this month for BIGGA on Correct Cutting Unit Maintenance. BTME is something I have always enjoyed doing. It’s a great show and nice to see everyone under one roof.“

Although Ben spends much of his life travelling around the world, he loves to come home to Horam, a small village in East Sussex, “just around the corner (“but far enough!”) from his parents.”

Outside work Ben likes to keep fit and he runs every other day, usually around 7½ kilometres, which he generally completes in around 40 minutes.

“I ran my first half marathon last year and will be running in the Richmond half marathon in March.

I am working up to a full marathon because of my two brothers. They have both completed the London Marathon before they were 40 and now it’s down to me to do the same. I’ve got 4 years to get fit enough to do it.

Rugby has always been my passion, although now it’s only spectating and occasionally the odd friendly. I have had so many injuries and breaks and my shoulder is plated, so I do have to be careful.”

Aeroplane seats aren’t comfy at the best of times, let alone when the body aches as it does more and more now!”