A SALESMAN who has clocked up a million miles across the Yorkshire Dales is retiring at the age of 82.

After 60 years working for Masham-based feed firm I'Anson Brothers, Tony Morris is renowned throughout the area, which has been his patch for the past 60 years.

At 22, Tony finished his National Service and joined the small, animal feed company working with three colleagues. The business then had less than 100 local farm customers on its books and generated sales of little more than £100,000 a year.

As he marks his formal retirement and one million miles around the roads of the Yorkshire Dales, I’Anson Bros is one of the leading, independent, family owned and managed animal feed producers in Britain, with annual sales in excess of £40m. They serve 2,000 farm and trade customers around the UK and export equine feed to more than 40 countries worldwide.

The staff has grown to 95, while production increased from 3,400 tons a year to more than 150,000. Tony has worked with three generations of the I’Anson family and is "uncle" to current family members after his father, who a sales rep, married into the family. Tony’s son Paul has also been with the company for more than 30 years.

Tony said: "I have enjoyed being part of the business. It has always focused on providing great products with excellent customer relationships and I believe that these attributes have been core to its growth and success.

"Because of the pandemic restrictions, I have not been able to see many long-standing customers to let them know just how much I have enjoyed working with them."

Tony has a wealth of anecdotes. One favourite is: "I was visiting a long-standing customer but when I pulled into the farmyard I saw a hearse outside the front door. My heart dropped. I thought I shouldn’t be trying for sales on such a sad day, so I started to turn around and leave them in peace. But the farmer’s son came dashing out asking why I was leaving.

"I explained I hadn’t realised there had been a death in the family and didn’t want to intrude on their grief. He burst out laughing and said 'no-one’s died. My dad has got a part-time job driving a hearse and he’s home for lunch'."

Tony also had a reputation for extracting the maximum mileage out of his company car, including clocking up more than 240,000 miles over 15 years in a VW Passat that he only agreed to replace when parts could no longer be secured to repair a broken windscreen wiper.

Managing director Chris I’Anson said: "Tony has been an integral part of the business for such a long time and was still visiting long-time clients until the pandemic meant he could no longer do so. He has witnessed many of the pivotal initiatives within the business, including the building of our current £20m mill in Masham, so it seems appropriate that he leaves as we begin the development of our new, advanced facility at Dalton New Bridge.

"We have a history of long-serving colleagues, but Tony’s stint is the longest and we all appreciate his contribution and wish him well in his retirement."