In 1978 at the age of 19 Luke Furse went to his local bank and asked for a loan of £1,000. Luke had for the previous four years been involved with his father's farm and had become a dab hand at not only milking the cows but also carrying out farm machinery repairs. However, like many farmer's sons he fancied broadening his horizons into other areas.
The bank lent him the money to buy a County 1004 on the understanding that it would be used for local dump truck work. Luke's first County came from Bodmin and was a non-runner with no glass in the cab and no bonnet. He removed the cylinder head in situ and found quite a lot of wear – not a good start! Replacing the cylinder head, Luke filled up the fuel tank, checked the oil and turned the key. Remarkably, the County started and off he went, belching blue smoke as he drove it down the A30 main road.
After a few miles oil was running down the exhaust and starting to burn. Luke stopped four times on the side of the road to top up with engine oil. He didn't dare stop the engine and just kept filling it up. By the time he got home the tired six-cylinder engine had somehow drunk its way through five gallons of oil!
The engine was taken out soon after he arrived home revealing the first of many setbacks. The crankshaft had snapped in two, yet still he had managed to drive it home. Undeterred, Luke started work on the County as soon as he had some spare time. When he ran out of money he sold his van and scramble bike and borrowed £20 from his mother to do the paint work. Eventually it was brought back to a workmanlike state. Next, Luke placed an advert in the local paper, which did the trick as it brought in some business. The first job, worth £28, involved moving a quantity of soil from a local village.
Luke also purchased his first bulldozer, a Bristol 22, from Mr Rex Lincoln, a local farmer. This machine was the very first that Luke Furse Earthmoving actually hired out. The photograph opposite was taken in front of the first workshop – a £35 chicken shed!
Within 12 months Luke managed to pay back the initial £1000 bank loan and had another £1000 in the bank. He took on a part time worker, purchased a JCB Hydraulic Excavator and re-sprayed it. He's never looked back since...
Within 10 years Luke was running eight machines and employing a number of drivers.
After getting married to his wife Susanne in 1985, Luke branched out into Agricultural Contracting in 1989. The business has grown considerably over the years and now Luke and Susanne are ably assisted by their son Lloyd.
Now in its 43rd year of business Luke Furse Earthmoving Ltd undertake a wide range of earthmoving projects throughout the Devon/Cornwall borders and Countrywide to include, at present, works on the Brecon Beacons, road widening on the M4 and other large projects based in the London area.
Today's modern fleet of equipment is constantly being updated with new, due to our ongoing replacement plan. This enables the company to provide its customers with the latest technology in excavator and dump trucks. This policy also applies to the agricultural division of the business with state of the art harvesting technology in forager and combine design. The latest 4 wheel drive tractors are used to meet the vital harvest deadlines, covering large acreages at very high work rates.
Dedicated and highly skilled operatives play a large role in our second to none customer service. Personal attention is always given by our efficient office team, as they help to co-ordinate the work schedules, working together with our ground/field operatives to achieve outstanding results even in the busiest times.
First Excavator owned by Luke Furse – JCB 6C at work on local farm in Ashwater operated by Luke Furse, summer 1980
First Dump Truck owned by Luke Furse – County 1004 with a Goose Neck 12T Dump Trailer at work on local farm in Ashwater operated by Luke Furse, summer 1980
First Bulldozer owned by Luke Furse – Bristol 22 in front of first workshop, a £35 chicken shed